The husband often visits the Middle East and surrounding regions on work. Much as he loves his rasam, rice and potato roast, he has been brought out of his comfort zone on such work trips. 🙂 Over time, life (and I!) has taught him to explore the local cuisine of wherever he is travelling. He has now gotten acquainted with falafel and kebobs, dolma and pita sandwiches, hummus and baba ganouj, various dips and hand-made Israeli cheeses. He reports it has been a happy change, considering the Middle Eastern cuisine has so much to offer vegetarians, and full of flavour at that. It was his ruminations about the food of the Middle East (still quite exotic, quite unexplored to me!) to try my hands at the cuisine. Today, I present to you the recipe for Easy Home-Made Falafel, one of the husband’s favourite snacks while on the aforementioned work trips.
‘Falafel‘ refers to deep-fried fritters made using chickpeas or fava beans or a mix of both, with a few herbs and spices added in. The origin of falafel has been linked to Egypt, though today, it is quite a common street food across most Middle-East countries, and is very popular even in India. With time, several versions of the falafel have come up the world over, including a healthier, baked version. Mine, however, is a Classic Falafel Recipe, where the snack is made the traditional, deep-fried way.
Making basic falafel from scratch isn’t a difficult task. Once you have the chickpeas soaked and ready, preparing it is a breeze. All the ingredients that one needs for falafel are easy to find in an average Indian kitchen, too. Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, they make for a delicious evening snack, especially on rainy, cold days. They are super versatile – lending themselves easily to make a more filling pita bread sandwich or wrap or burger, which would be just the right party snacks. They are deep-fried, yes, but full of protein, and better any day than snacking on junk food.
Enough said. Now, without any further delays, let us move on to the Classic Falafel Recipe!
Ingredients (makes 25-30 falafel):
- 1 cup chickpeas aka kabuli chana
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- 1 medium-sized onion
- 1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon roasted cumin (jeera) powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander (dhania) powder
- A dash of lemon juice
- 1-2 tablespoons maida or gram flour/besan (optional)
- Oil for deep frying
1. Soak the chickpeas for 8-10 hours or overnight, in just enough water to cover them.
2. When the chickpeas are done soaking, drain out all the water from them. Transfer the drained chickpeas to a mixer jar.
3. Add the chopped mint and coriander to the mixer jar, along with salt to taste.
4. Peel the garlic cloves. Add them to the mixer jar.
5. Chop the onion roughly. Add to the mixer jar.
6. Add red chilli powder, black pepper powder, roasted cumin powder, coriander powder and lemon juice to the mixer jar too.
7. Gently mix up the contents of the mixer jar. Pulse a couple of times, a couple of seconds each time. Stop in between to mix up the ingredients. Remember not to make a fine paste – just a coarse mixture. There’s no need to add water while grinding, but do add a spoonful or two if you are finding it absolutely impossible to dry grind.
8. Meanwhile, take the oil for deep frying in a pan. Place on high heat. Allow the oil to get nice and hot.
9. Try to shape small balls out of the mixture you ground earlier. If you are able to form balls that hold their shape, you can drop them – 3-4 at a time – into the hot oil straight away. Then, turn the flame down to medium and deep fry the balls evenly, till they turn brown on the outside. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. However, if the balls crumble when you try to shape them, you might need to mix in some maida or besan. This will help the balls get a bit firmer, post which you can deep fry them in the hot oil.
10. Serve the falafel piping hot, with a dip, sauce or chutney of your choice.
- Falafel can be made with either fava beans or kabuli chana, or a mix of both. The ancient, traditional versions of falafel were made using fava beans, however the more recent versions use kabuli chana. I have made these falafel using only chickpeas aka kabuli chana.
- Traditionally, parsley is used in falafel, for flavour. However, as parsley is not very commonly used in our house, I have used a mix of fresh mint leaves and coriander in the above recipe.
- I have served the above Easy Home-Made Falafel with a simple hung curd dip. Here’s how I made the dip – Grind together a handful of fresh mint leaves, 1 green chilly, salt to taste, 2 garlic cloves, a dash of lemon juice and some honey. Mix this into about 1/2 cup of hung curd (curd that has been hung for 2-3 hours to remove all the moisture from it). Mix in some finely chopped coriander, and the dip is ready to serve!
- Do not cook the chickpeas. They need to be used raw, in the above recipe, after soaking.
- Freshly soaked chickpeas work best in this recipe, rather than canned ones.
- Make sure you grind the falafel mixture coarsely. Do not make a fine paste. At the same time, you need to make sure that all the chickpeas have broken down completely – pick out any whole chickpeas that remain after grinding.
- Adding water while grinding the falafel mixture is purely optional. If you are able to make a coarse mixture without adding in any water, it’s completely fine. However, I typically add in a couple of spoonfuls of water while grinding – not only does it make the grinding easier, but also makes the falafel softer, I think.
- You can use either maida or besan (gram flour) to adjust the consistency of the falafel mixture, and enable you to shape the balls. If you are able to shape the balls as is, there is no need to add a binding agent like maida or besan.
- Make sure the oil is nice and hot, before dropping the falafel into it for deep-frying. Reduce the flame to medium while you fry them, which will help in even frying.
- The above is a Classic Falafel Recipe, meaning a recipe for the most basic version of deep-fried falafel. There are several variations to the classic falafel – baked versions, those with sesame or beetroot or herbs.
- This Easy Home-Made Falafel can be served on its own, with a sauce, dip or chutney of your choice. They can also be used in a sandwich, made using regular bread or pita bread. They can also be used in burgers or wraps, along with hummus, pickled vegetables, sour cream, chopped onions and tomatoes.
- The falafel mixture can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to a day, to be deep-fried and served later. I prefer grinding the mixture fresh, though, just before frying up and serving the falafel.
- Some people include a bit of baking powder/soda in the mixture, to make the falafel soft. I typically don’t use any. Even without the baking powder/soda, the above recipe does yield soft and delicious falafel.
This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is Levantine Cuisine, wherein members need to present dishes from the Levant region (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordon and Cyprus). This week’s theme was suggested by the very talented Sujata Shukla who blogs at PepperOnPizza – you have to check out her blog for various exotic and traditional recipes!