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Travel Photo of the Day: Falafel

Travel Photo of the Day: Falafel

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There are many variations of this simple street food throughout the Middle East

A Middle Eastern snack that many of us are familiar with in the States is falafel. The warm, crispy, and fried hush puppy look-alike is essentially "a fried ball of seasoned chickpeas" (and/or fava beans) that’s oftentimes served with pita bread and tahini sauce. The seasoning may vary depending on who the cook is, but generally includes garlic, onion, parsley, and coriander.

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Although some might claim it as Israel’s national snack, the cheap street food is popular throughout many Middle Eastern countries. To be expected, to recipe varies throughout, with Egypt exclusively using fava beans, while many other strictly use chickpeas, or even a mix of both. When traveling through this part of the world, falafel is certainly the iconic street food that every visitor should sample.

Looking for a simple falafel recipe to make at home? Check out ours!

Do you have a travel photo that you would like to share? Send it on over to lwilson[at]

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Ramadan recipe: homemade falafel

Join The National and Table Tales on a culinary journey around the Middle East to savour the quintessential dishes that embody the spirit of Ramadan. From table staples to family favourites, this series of recipes – one for each day of Ramadan – pays homage to the holy month and the home cook alike.

Alongside shawarmas, these well-loved, deep-fried fritters are synonymous with Middle Eastern street food. Hanan Sayed Worrell of Table Tales says: “Traditionally, falafel is a favourite starter at our Ramadan table. My husband, Steve, usually picks up a dozen or so from the street food shop in our neighbourhood, during the last hour before breaking the fast. At that time, the restaurants are bustling with last-minute orders and the falafel is freshly fried.

“When we stayed at home last year during the most unusual Ramadan, I decided to finally attempt to make falafel. I called our dear friend Ramzi for his recipe, which he generously shared. Ramzi, is a passionate cook and falafel ranks high among his favourites – he refers to it as ‘food for kings’. This recipe is easy to make and also to personalise.”

Recipe contributor Ramzi Ghannoum. Courtesy Ramzi Ghannoum / Table Tales

Recipe contributor Ramzi Ghannoum says: “I got hooked on falafel during military service in Jordan. Falafel with mortadella, cucumber and tomato sandwiches were my daily meals for almost two years. Since then, I have had a strong relationship with falafel, experimenting with many variations over the years, including stuffed ones.”

Lilly Higgins: Great balls of hot and crunchy falafel

I love making a chopped salad to go with this

There are many variations on falafel, the Middle Eastern deep-fried chickpea snack. I’ve been making them with recipes from Honey & Co, Ottolenghi and many more over the years. However the basic ingredients for traditional falafel are always the same: soaked chickpeas, onion, cumin and baking powder.

The amount and variety of spices can be different, depending on which recipe you look to. I love plenty of fresh parsley and coriander in mine, along with the warmth of cumin and fragrant cinnamon. The herbs give a beautiful green colour.

These are divine when eaten piping hot and crunchy, with the sesame seeds adding an extra layer of flavour and texture. The cooling creamy tahini sauce provides a perfect balance and is essential when eating falafel. I love to spread it on a warm flatbread then crumble the hot falafel over, or spread the sauce on a plate and place the falafel on top.

I make a big jar of this tahini sauce at the start of the week and sometimes swirl it through yogurt or drizzle pomegranate molasses over it. It’s perfect for roasted or barbecued vegetables and meats. It also makes a great creamy dressing for kale salads.

I’ve made falafel with cooked chickpeas in the past and, although they do still taste nice, it’s just not the same. It’s very easy to simply soak the chickpeas the night before or the morning of the day you need them. Falafel is an incredibly economical dish to make, especially if you’re buying dried chickpeas. Always pick over them and discard any that are dark and too shrivelled.

I love making a chopped salad to go with this: crunchy cubes of cucumber, tomato, radish and pomegranate seeds all dressed with a little olive oil and lemon juice. It’s simple, satisfying, nutritious food that’s full of flavour.

Shaping the falafel with wet hands makes it easier to do, but if you find yourself making them regularly, invest in an aleb falafel, the traditional falafel mould, to scoop and shape each little patty before it gets fried.

Pita Sliders:

  • 1/4 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 (1-oz.) miniature whole-wheat pita rounds (such as Toufayan)
  • 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups loosely packed baby arugula (about 2 oz.)
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced

Nutritional Information

  • Calories 379
  • Fat 8.5g
  • Satfat 0.7g
  • Monofat 3.1g
  • Polyfat 3.2g
  • Protein 17g
  • Carbohydrate 63g
  • Fiber 14g
  • Cholesterol 1mg
  • Iron 6mg
  • Sodium 642mg
  • Calcium 132mg
  • Sugars 10g
  • Est. added sugars 0g

Crispy Baked Falafel

Packed with herbs & spices, this crispy baked falafel recipe is bursting with delicious flavor. Stuff it into pitas, top it with your favorite fixings & enjoy!

Falafel was the food that first convinced me that a vegetarian diet could be filled with bold, exciting flavors. It’s crispy, rich, and satisfying, packed with fresh herbs and aromatic spices. Stuffed into pita bread with veggies, tahini sauce, and a pop of pickled onions, it’s insanely flavorful, making it one of my all-time favorite foods.

I included a recipe for red lentil falafel in Love and Lemons Every Day (one of my favorites in the book!), but never before have I shared a classic chickpea-based falafel recipe. Without a doubt, it was worth the wait. I’m picky about my falafel, but these little guys check all the boxes: they’re crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle, and loaded with herbs and spices.

What is Falafel?

If you’re thinking, “Wait. What is falafel?”, you’re in for a treat. A traditional Middle Eastern dish, falafel are fried balls of ground chickpeas, which often include parsley, cilantro, and spices such as cumin and coriander. It’s a popular street food throughout the Middle East and Europe (if you’re ever in Paris, make a stop at L’As du Fallafel), where you can find it stuffed into pitas brimming with fresh veggies, herbs, sauces, and pickles.

I’m not a fan of working with a big vat of hot oil at home, so instead of deep frying my falafel, I bake it. It comes out deliciously crisp just the same, and it’s a little lighter than the traditional version. This one is my favorite falafel recipe to date, and I hope you fall for it too!

My Falafel Recipe Ingredients

To make my baked falafel recipe, you need these key ingredients:

  • Uncooked dried chickpeas. I use soaked dried chickpeas, not canned chickpeas, in this recipe. Soak your dried chickpeas overnight before beginning the recipe, and then blend the soaked chickpeas into the herby falafel mixture.
  • Shallot and garlic. Together, they add a delicious bite! You can also use yellow onion in place of the shallot.
  • Lemon zest. It’s not traditional, but I love the lemon’s zesty brightness in these patties.
  • Cumin, coriander, and cayenne. This spice blend is warm and aromatic, and the cayenne adds a little heat.
  • Sea salt. It punches up the rich flavor of the herbs and spices.
  • Baking powder. Just a pinch makes these balls nice and puffy in the oven.
  • Cilantro and parsley. I use a good amount to make my falafel bright green and flavorful. There’s no need to toss the herb stems for this recipe – blend them straight into the falafel mixture along with the leaves!
  • Extra-virgin olive oil. I add a tablespoon to the chickpea mixture for richness. In addition, I drizzle the patties with oil before baking so they become nice and crisp in the oven.

How to Make Falafel

Once you’ve soaked your chickpeas, this recipe is easy to make! Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Blend the ingredients. Add the falafel ingredients to a food processor, and pulse until well combined, but not pureed.
  2. Form the falafel balls. Use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop and your hands to gently form the mixture into 12 to 15 thick patties.
  3. Bake! Drizzle the little cakes with olive oil, and bake, flipping halfway, until they’re golden brown and crisp.
  4. Serve, and enjoy! Stuff the cooked falafel into pitas with your favorite fixings, top them onto a salad, or serve them over a bowl. Then, dig in!

Best Baked Falafel Tips

  1. Used dried, NOT canned chickpeas. The perfect cakey, crumbly texture comes from dried chickpeas that have been soaked, but not cooked, before being blended into patties. Make sure to soak dried chickpeas ahead of time to make this recipe. Substituting cooked, canned chickpeas does not work here – your falafel will turn out wet and mushy.
  2. Drizzle the patties generously with oil before baking. Because this falafel recipe is baked, not fried, it automatically uses much less oil than traditional falafel. In order to get your patties nicely crisp and golden brown in the oven, don’t hesitate give them a generous drizzle of oil before baking. They’ll come out delicious and still be lighter than classic falafel.
  3. Don’t pack your patties too tightly. It’s tempting to really pack the patties together tightly, but doing so will make them tough and dense. Form the falafel balls gently, and if your mixture isn’t holding together, pulse it a bit more in the food processor until the mixture sticks together. If it’s still too crumbly, pop it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes before shaping and baking the patties.
  4. Make a double batch, and freeze the extras. These guys keep well in the freezer, so go ahead and make a double batch to have on hand for salads, bowls, or wraps. To reheat frozen falafel, pop them in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes, until they’re crisp and heated through. Check out this post for more freezer-friendly dinner ideas and this post for some great meal prep tips.

Falafel Serving Suggestions

I love stuffing these into a pita sandwich loaded with chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, fresh herbs, hummus, pickled onions, and generous drizzles of tahini sauce. To customize your pita sandwich, you could easily swap another Middle Eastern sauce like tzatziki or baba ganoush for the hummus, or drizzle it with cilantro lime dressing instead of (or in addition to) the tahini.

If you’re not in the mood for pita, top your patties onto a big salad along with some crispy roasted chickpeas, or serve it over a bed of quinoa, cilantro lime rice, or cauliflower rice with lots of fresh veggies.

And if you’re in the market for a side dish, any of these recipes would be excellent with this baked falafel:

If you love this falafel recipe…

Check out this post for more healthy dinner ideas, or this post for 85 more vegan recipes!

I love falafel. Is it actually healthy?

This article was published more than 9 years ago. Some information in it may no longer be current.


I love falafel! I’m a vegetarian and eat falafel pitas at least once a week. I know they’re deep fried, but they’re frequently touted as healthy.. What’s the real deal?


I really like falafel too and it’s a good source of vegetarian protein. But depending on where you buy your falafel pita from – and how many toppings you add – you might be getting more calories, fat and sodium than you think.

What is falafel made of?

For anyone reading this who is not familiar with falafel, they are deep fried balls – or fritters – made from ground chickpeas and/or fava beans seasoned with onion, parsley, cumin and coriander. The falafel balls are stuffed in a pita or wrapped in a flatbread and topped with tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, pickled vegetables, hot sauce and tahini sauce.

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What are the health benefits of falafel?

A 3.5 ounce serving of deep-fried falafel – no pita or toppings – has roughly 330 calories, 31 grams of carbohydrate, 17.5 grams of fat, 13 grams of protein and 294 milligrams of sodium. Falafel is also a good source of soluble fibre, the type that helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

This meal is high in fat with almost half its calories (47 per cent) coming from fat. However, if it's fried in a healthy oil (such olive, canola or grape seed oil) and you limit your intake of fat for the rest of the day, falafel definitely fits into a healthy diet.

Now, here comes the bad news. Some falafel pitas can have as many as 750 calories, 30 grams of fat and 1,500 milligrams of sodium – a full day's worth of salt. To minimize the damage, consider sharing a falafel pita, or eating only half and saving the remainder for lunch the next day.

To cut back on sodium, go easy on the toppings. Choose only one of the pickled vegetables and ask that only a little sauce be added.

If you make falafel at home, you can save calories and fat by pan frying it in a little olive oil or baking it in the oven.

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water and drained**
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh flat parsley leaves
  • 5 cups safflower or other neutral oil, for frying
  • kosher salt
  • one (10-ounce) container of Sabra Lemon Twist Hummus
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, for garnishing
  • twisted lemon slices, for garnishing
  1. Prepare the night before serving: Place the dried chickpeas in a medium saucepan, and cover them with a generous amount of cold water. Allow the chickpeas to soak for 8 to 12 hours (overnight). They will plump up substantially.
  2. Make the falafel bites: Drain the chickpeas well. Place them in the bowl of a large food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Add the red onion, garlic, flour, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, cilantro, and parsley leaves. Pulse the mixture several times until it just begins to come together&ndashif it is too coarse, it will not hold. Place mixture in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.
  3. Remove mixture from the fridge. Set aside a large plate lined with a paper towel. Pour the oil in a large deep skillet (you want the oil to be at least 1.5-inches deep), and place over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, shape the falafel mixture with your hands into 1-inch diameter balls. The falafel should come together when shaped, but be relatively delicate.
  4. Carefully place each falafel ball into the hot oil. Fry the falafel in small batches to avoid over-crowding the pan. Fry the falafel balls (flipping them continuously throughout the frying process) for 2 to 3 minutes, or until evenly browned on all sides. Carefully transfer them to the paper-towel lined plate, and sprinkle them lightly with salt.
  5. Spoon the lemon twist hummus onto a serving platter, and use the back of a large spoon to create a thin, even (elegant) layer. Serve the hot falafel on toothpicks, and place them directly on top of the hummus. Garnish the platter with chopped parsley and a lemon wedge twist, and serve immediately.

A quick recipe to make delicious FALAFEL in 5 steps

Falafel is basically a Middle Eastern food that is made with chickpeas or fava beans. It is a deep-fried ball and is often served with hummus and tahini sauce. It is rich in micronutrients and is also a good source of protein and fiber. It is a great source of protein for vegans, who have excluded meat from their diet.

It is low in fat, free of cholesterol, and can become nutritious when filled with vegetables. So if you want to make this famous dish at home, then simply follow these 5 steps to indulge in some Middle Eastern goodness!

Take 2 cups of dried chickpeas and soak them in a bowl filled with water and a pinch of baking soda overnight. Drain the water the next day and pat them dry.

Transfer the chickpeas to a bowl and add 1 medium-sized onion finely chopped, 5-6 cloves of garlic, 1 cup of parsley, ½ tbsp salt, 1 tbsp cumin powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tbsp pepper, and 1 tbsp ground coriander. Mix well and then put this mixture in a food processor. Run it for 30 seconds.

Transfer this mixture to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. Wet your hands a little and then take 2-3 tbsp of the mixture and make patties out of the falafel mixture.

Heat some vegetable oil in a pan and carefully put the patties in the oil. Fry for 3-5 minutes till they become brown and crispy. Fry them in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.

Once fried, take them out on a paper towel to let the towel soak the excess oil. You can serve them with some tahini sauce or hummus or assemble the patties into pita bread, by cutting the bread into two halves and placing the patties inside the pita pockets.

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This vegan falafel recipe

Falafel is one of my favorite foods (get some here if you’re even in Paris). But I had resigned to only eating it at restaurants. Alex and I have spent years trying to perfect baked falafel, and finally, we created a recipe that works! (Want to try the classic way? Here’s how to make Classic Falafel (fried!) and an Epic Falafel Sandwich.)

Of the many variables, we found dried, soaked chickpeas for the dough holds together much better than canned. It requires soaking the chickpeas for 1 hour, but it if well worth it. For this falafel we’ve shaped the falafel into patties instead of balls, which is easier for the baking process. While the baked falafel doesn’t taste exactly like the decadence of fried falafel, the flavor and texture work well in this falafel salad!

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 2 cups packed flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion plus 1/4 cup thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 5 tablespoons tahini
  • 5 tablespoons warm water
  • 6 cups sliced romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups sliced cucumbers and/or radishes
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered

Soak chickpeas in cold water for 12 to 24 hours.

Drain the chickpeas and transfer to a food processor. Add 1 cup parsley, chopped onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt process until finely and evenly ground. Shape into 12 patties (1 1/2 inches wide), using a generous 2 tablespoons each.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Cook the falafel until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn, swirl in 1 tablespoon oil and cook until golden on the other side, 3 to 5 minutes more.

Meanwhile, whisk tahini, water and the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Transfer 1/4 cup to a small bowl. Add romaine and the remaining 1 cup parsley to the large bowl and toss to coat. Top with cucumbers and/or radishes, tomatoes, the sliced onion and the falafel. Drizzle with the reserved 1/4 cup dressing.


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