All hail the mighty falafel!
Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and bursting with zingy flavors, falafel is something that I can eat on repeat. Chickpeas, parsley and cilantro are a stellar combination, and when you add spices and garlic, it’s heavenly. Seriously, what’s not to love about this Middle Eastern staple? Budget-friendly, delicious, filling — falafel hits all the notes!
While in Israel this summer, I had falafel every single day. Pretty sure that eating deep fried anything is not sustainable in the long term, but wow did it make me happy! You can use my recipe below to pan fry or air fry falafel; no deep frying necessary. I’ve tried these baked, but I find them too dry, so there are no baking instructions included.
The key to great falafel - as I discovered in my recipe testing extravaganza - is to use raw chickpeas from dried beans that have soaked at least 12 hours. I’ve soaked them for fewer hours, and the recipe works, but I find them tastier when they’re soaked longer. This recipe is perfect for family dinner, lunchbox packing, entertaining, and for feeding folks who are vegan, dairy free and nut free.
I tried making falafel from canned beans and while I really wanted it to work, the texture was off. To me, falafel should have a slightly grainy texture, and that wasn’t coming through with canned beans. Dried, uncooked beans have the starchy quality that helps to hold the shape of the balls.
While falafel are tastiest when hot and freshly cooked, I pack these in lunchboxes for my kids and eat them cold myself. My preference is to eat them with tahini mixed with water, lemon juice, garlic and salt, tucked inside of a pita with pickled red onion, hot sauce, lettuce and tomato. That said, I’ve been known to eat them happily with just tahini sauce and pita or lettuce. Anything goes! If you make this recipe, let me know by tagging me on Instagram!
1 cup dried chickpeas (soaked at least 12 hours)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
Neutral oil for pan frying or for brushing on top in the airfryer
Place the dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover with water. Let soak for at least 12 hours. If you soak for longer than 12 hours, replace the water. The chickpeas will have grown substantially.
Place chickpeas into a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped, taking care not to over process.
Add the garlic and spices and pulse again.
Next, add the cilantro and parsley. The mixture will have a lovely green color when pulsed.
Scrape down the sides and add the lemon zest, lemon juice, water and baking powder and pulse again.
Finally, add the flour and combine using a spatula.
Let this mixture rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Form into 2 inch balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
To air fry: place in the air fryer at 360 F for 15 minutes.
To pan fry: heat neutral oil (I used avocado oil) in a dutch oven on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, place falafel in and pan fry (turning occasionally) until golden brown all around. Cooking time is approximately 6-8 minutes per batch, but time may vary according to the size of the balls. If the falafel are burning, turn the heat down.
Makes approximately 20 balls.
Frankly, I prefer these pan fried to air fried, but I realize that air fried makes them healthier. Still, these are simply chickpeas, herbs and spices, so either way I feel good about what I’m eating.