Food is deeply personal and becomes rooted in us at a very young age. For most of us, our comfort food is what we grew up eating – the special meals our parents made for us in celebration, but especially the simple daily meals we ate together as a family. After I moved away from home, this was one meal I missed the most and looked forward every time I went back to home.
This falafel recipe is tried and true. It is simple, delicious and authentic. There are several tips to making good falafels that are light and yet won’t fall apart when frying:
How to make the BEST falafels:
- Use dry chickpeas that have been soaked overnight, not cooked, not canned. Drain them well! Key!
- Don’t over blend. The falafel “dough” must be granular rather than smooth.
- Add a little baking soda to keep them light.
- Let them “rest” at least 20 minutes before frying to allow them to bind.
- Fry in a cast-iron skillet, allowing them to form a deeply golden crust, before moving or flipping. This ensures they will naturally release from the pan. If done this way, you will not need to add flour or bread crumbs….keeping them gluten-free.
Place the well-drained, soaked chickpeas in a food processor, add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until combined, scraping down sides as necessary. Don’t over blend. It still needs to be granular, not smooth like hummus… and should look something like this. To achieve this you must pulse, scrape sides, repeat.
Making homemade pita bread is a fun easy project – and doing this with your kids is especially fun. Of course, store-bought pita bread is always a great option if pressed for time. But if you feel like making them, they really are easy!
I remember making pita bread with my mom when I was little, and I’ll never forget the feeling of complete surprise, seeing the flat dough, magically puff up in the hot oven. With the rising time, it’s about a 3-hour commitment, so plan accordingly.
What to Serve with Falafels!
- Creamy Tahini Sauce (aka Falafel Sauce),
- Pita Bread
- pickled turnips
- Tzatziki Sauce
- Baba Ganoush
How to make authentic Falafel from scratch using soaked chickpeas (not canned) with Homemade Pita, Creamy Tahini Sauce, Pickled Turnips, Cucumber Yogurt Sauce *Chickpeas need 10-24 hours of soaking time. Makes 10 Falafels (I highly recommend making a double batch of the falafels!)
- 3/4 cup dry chickpeas ( yields 2 cups soaked)
- 1 cup Cilantro ( stems ok)
- ½ cup white or yellow onion, rough chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 a jalapeno, seeds ok ( add the entire thing if you want a little kick)
- 1 tablespoon Coriander
- 1 tablespoon Cumin
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (add more to taste)
- high heat oil for frying, or spray oil for baking
Pita Bread Recipe ( makes 12 pita) ( or store-bought pita)
Middle Eastern Pickled Turnips
- 2 medium turnips, peeled and thinly sliced.
- 2– 3 slices of a small red beet, ( optional, for color)
- ½ thinly sliced onion
- 2 sliced garlic cloves
- 3/4 C red wine vinegar
- 3/4 C water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- Additions: peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dill ( all optional)
Creamy Tahini Sauce: ( Or try this vegan Everyday Tahini Sauce!)
- 3/4 Cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 Cup tahini paste
- 1–2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- cracked pepper
- Juice of one medium lemon
Tzatziki Sauce Recipe
- Soak 3/4 cup dry chickpeas in a bowl of cold water on the counter for 10- 12 hours or up to 24 hours hours. They will swell into 2 cups. Place in a strainer, letting them drain WELL, and pat dry with a towel for extra dryness. (Wet chickpeas will be more difficult to fry.)
- Measure 2 cups of the soaked, uncooked chickpeas and place in a food processor and pulse repeatedly along with the onion, garlic, cilantro, chili, salt spices and baking soda, scraping down sides, until it is well blended but still coarse like sand. Don’t overwork it- this should not be smooth, but rather quite coarse and granular. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven ( or toaster oven) to 400F.
- Form round, slightly smaller than golf ball sized balls in your hands. If it feels very wet, feel free to lightly dredge in flour if you like. (I usually don’t, even when wet!).
- In a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet, heat a ¼ inch of “high-heat” oil on med-high heat until it sizzles when a pea sized portion of falafel is dropped in.
- Turn heat to medium. Start with one tester falafel. Place it carefully in the hot oil, do not move it or mess with it until a deeply golden crust forms (this crust will ensure it naturally releases from the pan). Using a metal spatula, carefully turn it over. Sear the other side. Each side will take about 3-4 minutes. Cook in batches, not crowding. Place falafels in the oven while you cook remaining falafels to cook them through. Keep them in warm oven until ready to serve.
Middle Eastern Pickled Turnips
- Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium-sized pot, remove from heat, and refrigerate until ready to eat.
Creamy Tahini Sauce:
- Blend all in the food processor, until smooth. This may seem slightly salty, but trust me it works in the big picture when all the components are combined.
These can be cooled and frozen.
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