Easy Homemade Falafel

Falafel fry up!
Falafel fry up!

Sometimes I just want a falafel sandwich.  I like the nutty, crispy, patties and they were  go to comfort food for me in New Orleans (read, hangover food!).  I’ve yet to find a really good spot in Knoxville for falafel – with the exception of a really good place downtown that is ALWAYS closed, or sold out of falafel.  In fact, I can only offer hearsay that they’e good, because I’ve never managed to have them.  So I’m left with an at home version if I’m going to have falafel.  But most of the recipes I’ve tried at home disappointed.  Of course, once it disappointed because I tried to make them healthier, by oven baking them.  Which pretty much takes away what I like best about them – their crunchy crispy FRIEDNESS.  But like a lot of veggie burgers I’ve made, the batter tended to be too wet, too crumbly, or too bland.

But scrolling through my Pinterest feed last weekend, looking for inspiration (what, you don’t do this before you go grocery shopping every week?) I found a recipe for falafel and the craving for them was suddenly THAT INTENSE that I had to make them.  Baby is apparently a fan of falafel.  I decided to try this recipe, and thought it was great, but could use a bit more of most of the spices. I adjusted it and as very happy with the results of the falafel itself.  The accompanying tahini sauce recipe was less satisfying, though, as I found it over thick, so I will be tweaking that.  I’ll post about the tahini sauce that we liked best later in the week – because I am hoping to get it right today!

But the recipe below worked pretty damn good for falafel, and I am definitely putting it in regular rotation in our house.  The batter made enough for us to have three meals of falafel stuffed pitas, and I didn’t get a bit tired of them.  And its a very affordable meal to make and have on hand – we ate all the batter up within about four days, but I think it would safely keep for about a week.  It was, in fact, better every day as the flavors married together better and better.  If anyone freezes it with success, let me know.

I am going to keep tweaking here and there, and am open to any brilliant falafel making suggestion you have – seriously, I am sure someone out there has a suggestion that will take this from good to extraordinary.  And I’m having company in a few weeks and would like to include a falafel meal.  So send them away!

Homemade Falafel
Gratefully Adapted from Just a Taste

  • 2 cups roughly chopped white onion
  • 1 head of garlic – if it is a large head I would use 8-10 cloves.  But I like garlic and felt the recipe needed a bit more- the original recipe calls for 6 cloves.
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained.  I used canned, well drained, because I had them in the house and I had to have the falafel.  I had to – it was for the baby, right? 😉  They worked just fine.  Do be careful not to over process the mix, though.
  • 1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 small pepper – I’ve used both jalapeno and serrano, and I prefer the serrano – this is an optional step though.  Its fine as is, we just like heat, and found that this really helps give the falafel a flavor boost.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more if needed to absorb moisture
  • Oil, for sauteing – I used sunflower, which worked very well I think
  • Pita bread, for serving.  You an also use a tortilla or wrap if you prefer your falafel that way.

    My mixture just before frying.  It's moist, but holds together well.
    My mixture just before frying. It’s moist, but holds together well.

    Add the onion, garlic cloves, and pepper if using to the bowl of a food processor and pulse just until they are finely minced. Scrape the mixture into a prep bowl and set to the side, while you add the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, salt, chili powder, and cumin to the bowl of the food processor and run it until they are blended but not pureed.

    Return the onion, pepper, and garlic mixture to the food processor, along with the baking powder and just enough flour so that when you run the processor, the mixture begins to form a small ball and is not sticky. For me, this required more than 1/2 cup of flour, in total, but not much more.  This is where those cooking instincts come in – eyeball it!

    The original recipe calls for chilling the mixture at this point for an hour.  I confess I did not do this for our first round of falafel.  I used an ice cream scoop to fry a few patties for dinner right away, but then, because falafel is best served piping hot, i refrigerated the batter and whenever we wanted falafel over the next few days, just friend up a quick few patties.  So its definitely an easy make ahead meal.

    We served this on pita, with slices of fresh crunchy onion, tahini sauce, and tomatoes.  We marinated our tomatoes for a while in vinegar and herbs, and added some diced onion to that mixture.  I’ll share that recipe on Wednesday when I post about our improved version of tahini sauce, because I felt this tomato mixture really elevated and complimented the falafel sandwich.

    So that’s how I made them.  How do you make yours?  What suggestions for improvement do you have?  

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