Before I strarted making falafel from scratch, I’d say that I liked the falafel I’d had in Canada but I didn’t love it. Nothing compared to standing on a street in Tel Aviv having fresh falafel from a stand, loading it up with all of the sauces and toppings offered. When my family opened a vegetarian cafe years ago (now closed) I decided that we needed to develop our own falafel recipe and got to work.
After testing and testing and more testing, I thought I had a winner. When some of my Israeli customers told me that it was the best falafel they’d had since leaving Israel, I knew it was a winner. We used to make huge batches of falafel; soaking 10-15 kg of dried chickpeas overnight, then blending them with onions, garlic, fresh herbs and spices.
We found the best way to make them for the restaurant was to form the falafel patties, freeze them raw, then fry them to order. The recipe I’m sharing is much smaller but still produces about 4 dozen falafel. You can fry (or bake) them all at once, then freeze them if you don’t eat them all right away. Or you can do what we did and freeze the ones you won’t be using right away and fry them when you’re ready for them.
We offered a falafel platter, served with chummus, techina, Israel salad, warm pita, pickles and olives. We also served them in a salad with crisp lettuce, Israeli salad, a tahini dressing, pita croutons and olives. You can serve it with so many toppings and sauces: techina, chummus, Israeli salad, red cabbage salad, schug, matbucha, amba, pickled vegetables, fried eggplant and cauliflower, hot sauce, french fries and anything else you like!
Some of my other recipes that you can serve with your falafel:
- 500 grams / 1 lb. 1 1/2 oz. dry chickpeas (2 1/4 cups)
- 300 grams / 10 1/2 oz. yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped (1 large)
- 50 grams / 1 3/4 oz. garlic cloves (10 cloves)
- 40 grams / 1 1/2 oz. flat leaf parsley, leaves and stems (1 cup)
- 40 grams / 1 1/2 oz. cilantro, leaves and stems (1 cup)
- 2 1/2 tsp. table salt
- 2 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 4 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- Go through the dried chickpeas and check for any stones. Place the checked chickpeas in a large bowl or container and cover with plenty of water (make sure the water comes up at least 2 inches above the chickpeas. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for a minimum of 12 hours. I like to soak them overnight.
- Pour the chickpeas into a colander, rinse well and drain well.
- Place approximately one-third of the chickpeas, onion, garlic and fresh herbs in a food processor. Add all of the dry ingredients to a small bowl and mix together, then add one-third of the dry spices to the food processor.
- Process the mixture until there are no large chunks left and you have a coarse mixture. You don’t want to process it to a smooth paste but it has to be processed enought that the falafel holds together (you can test it by taking a little in your hands and forming it into a ball). Transfer the processed mixture to a mixing bowl, then process the rest of the ingredients in another 2 batches. Once it’s all done, mix all of the mixture well. Cover and chill for at least one hour. You can keep it in the fridge up to 24 hours.
- When you’re ready to cook the falafel, heat 2-3 inches of oil in a large pot or deep-fryer to 350°F / 175°C. Form the falafel with a falafel maker (pictures below), a one-ounce ice cream scoop or two spoons and gently drop into the hot oil. Fry, turning the falafel with a slotted spoon until they’re a deep golden brown on all sides. Fry the falafel in batches, being careful not to crowd the fryer. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the falafel to a tray lined with paper towel to absord any excess oil. Serve immediately or keep in a warm oven until you’re done cooking the whole batch.
- You can also bake the falafel. Form the falafel mixture into patties and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush both sides of the falafel with oil (I use canola) then bake in a preheated 400°F / 205°C oven for 20 minutes. Use a spatula to gently flip the falafel over and bake another 20 minutes or until both sides are golden brown
- Serve the falafel with warm pita and lots of toppings and sauces, letting your guests make it the way they like it.