Homemade falafel fresh out of a fryer are amongst the most delicious things one can make with vegetables. Eaten across the middle east and frequently referred to as the National Dish of Israel, these little balls of joy can be found on street corners and supermarket shelves the world over. And such is their popularity that 12th June is designated as International Falafel Day – a day to celebrate all things fried chickpea!
Nobody knows exactly where in falafel originated, and it is a fiercely debated topic as to who claims ownership over these delicious fried balls, but the earliest written references to falafel come from 19th Century Egypt. Possibly based on similar split-pea snacks from India, Falafel were originally made from fava (broad) beans (known as ful in Arabic). As falafel spread across the levant, chickpeas replaced fava beans.
In the early 1950s, Yemeni Jews in Israel started serving falafel in pita, and the mishmash of cultures in the young Israel brought their own pickles, dressings and flavours, and so the popular street food we know and love today was born!
- 300 g (2 cups) dried chickpeas
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 40 g (1 bunch/about 1/2 cup) chopped fresh coriander
- 20 g (½ bunch/about 1/4 cup) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 5 tablespoons flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- About 2 litres vegetable oil
- Accompaniment: tahini sauce
- Special Equipment: A deep-fat thermometer, and a heavy bottom pot
- Soak chickpeas in cold water to cover by 2 inches in a bowl at room temperature at least 12 hours (max 24 hours). Drain well in a colander.
- Purée chickpeas with all remaining ingredients except oil in a food processor until smooth.
- Heat about 1 inch oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot (preferably cast-iron) until thermometer registers 340°F. Using a falafel shaper or two tablespoons, scoop the falafel mix into the falafel shaper or onto a spoon shaping into a ball or quenelle, and then gently drop patties into hot oil, then fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, and transfer to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 340°F between batches.
- Serve falafel warm or at room temperature.