If you’ve ever lived in a city like Philadelphia, you’re familiar with falafel. The vendors on practically every corner have mastered the art of turning chickpeas into a delicious savory meal. In June, celebrate this dish found across the Middle East (and on the street corners of Philly) with us! Falafel can be enjoyed as an everyday savory staple, and to celebrate auspicious events such as Eid al-Fitr on June 3 and International Falafel Day on June 12.
Falafel has a fascinating history – likely invented in Egypt about 1,000 years ago, but some theories place its origin in India in the 6th century, or in British Egypt in the late 19th century. Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and Yemen all claim falafel as one of their national dishes, making it quite universal and unquestionably delicious.
Follow this recipe from Cooking the Middle Eastern Way by Alison Behnke and Vartkes Ehramjian to make your own falafel at home, and judge it for yourself!
Falafel (Chickpea Patties) Recipe
- 1/2 cup dried chickpeas
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tbsp. tahini
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- olive or vegetable oil for frying
- 3 large pita pieces, cut in half
- 2 small tomatoes, chopped
- Place chickpeas in a large bowl or baking dish with 1 tsp. of the baking soda and cover with water. Refrigerate and leave to soal for 24 hours.
- Drain chickpeas in a colander. Rub them lightly between your hands to remove skins. Rinse well.
- Combine chickpeas, half the chopped onions, 2 cloves of garlic, and all of the cumin, coriander, parsley, salt, pepper, and cayenne (if using) in a food processor or blender. Process until the mixture becomes a thick, smooth paste.
- Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add remaining tsp. of baking soda. Cover and let sit, unrefrigerated, for 30 minutes.
- To make tahini sauce, combine yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, and 1 clove garlic. Stir with a whisk until well blended. Cover and chill.
- Use your hands to form chickpea mixture into patties about 2 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick.
- Pour about 2 inches of oil into a saucepan or deep frying pan. Heat over medium heat, until oil bubbles slightly when you dip a corner of a falafel patty into it. Carefully use a slotted spoon to place as many patties in the pan as fit comfortably. Fry 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain.
- To serve, fill the pocket of each pita half with 2 or 3 patties, some chopped onion and tomato, and a bit of tahini sauce.
Preparation time: 30 minutes (plus overnight soaking and 30 minutes sitting time)
Cooking time: 30 to 45 minutes
Serves 4 to 6