Dried chickpeas: AVOID using canned chickpeas! Dried chickpeas (that have been soaked in water for 24 hours) are an important ingredient that will give your falafel the right consistency and taste. (Tip: I usually add about ½ tsp of baking soda to the soaking water to help soften the dry chickpeas.)
– Fresh herbs: fresh parsley, cilantro, and dill are key to this authentic recipe.
– Onion: I typically use yellow onions, but white or red onions would work.
– Garlic: for best flavor, use fresh garlic cloves.
– Kosher salt and pepper: to taste.
– Spices: cumin, coriander, and a little cayenne pepper. Along with the fresh herbs, this trio of spices is what gives falafel it’s bold authentic taste.
– Baking powder: this is what gives falafel an airy, fluffy texture (many recipes skip this, causing the falafel to come out too dense.)
– Sesame seeds: these are optional here, but I do like the added nuttiness.
1. Soak chickpeas for 24 hours. Cover them in plenty of water and add baking soda to help soften them as they soak. The chickpeas will at least double in size as they soak. Drain very well.
2. Make mixture. Add chickpeas, fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, and dill), garlic, onion, and spices to food processor and pulse a little bit at a time until the mixture is finely ground. You’ll know it’s ready when the texture is more like coarse meal.
& Refrigerate (important.) Transfer the falafel mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. The chilled mixture will hold together better, making it easier to form the falafel patties.
3. Form patties or balls. Once the falafel mixture has been plenty chilled, stir in baking powder and toasted sesame seeds, then scoop golf ball-sized balls and form into balls or patties (if you go the patties route, do not flatten them too much, you want them to still be nice and fluffy when they’re cooked.)
4. Fry. Frying is the traditional way to cook falafel and yields the most authentic and best result. Heat the oil on medium-high until it bubbles softly (your oil should be hot enough around 375 degrees F, but not too hot that it causes the falafel to fall apart.)
Carefully drop the falafel in the oil, using a slotted spoon, and fry for 3-5 minutes until medium brown on the outside. Avoid over-crowding the falafel; fry them in batches if necessary.
Tip: it’s always a good idea to fry one falafel first to make sure the oil temperature does not need to be adjusted.
You can serve falafel for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Most Egyptians, and others throughout the Middle East actually start their day with falafel, much like many here in the States start with a bowl of cereal.
I shared some of these earlier in the post, but just in case you missed them:
1. Always use dry chickpeas. Dry chickpeas, that have been soaked in water for 24 hours, will give you the best texture and flavor. Dry chickpeas are naturally starchy and will help your falafels to stay well formed. If you use canned chickpeas, your falafel will disintegrate in the frying oil.
2. Chill the falafel mixture. Chilling for at least 1 hour helps with the shaping. And good news is, you can make the falafel mixture one night in advance and chill overnight.
3. Add baking powder to the falafel mixture before forming into balls/patties. As a raising agent, baking powder here helps make the falafel on the fluffy side.
4. Fry in bubbling oil, and do not crowd the saucepan. For perfectly crispy falafel, sadly, the best option is deep frying. The cooking oil should be hot and gently bubbling, but not too hot that the falafel disintegrate. If you need to, use a deep fry-safe thermometer (affiliate link); it should read around 375 degrees F (for my stove, that is medium-high heat.)
5- Once cooked, falafel should be crispy and medium brown on the outside, fluffy and light green on the inside.