Authentic Middle Eastern Falafel Recipe

Home in the Middle East, falafel has become an absolute crowdpleaser across the globe. Authentic falafel are made of just a few simple ingredients. The truth is that it’s much easier to make than you’d probably think! Once you know the secret behind the best falafel, you’ll surely never stop making them.

Learn how to make authentic Middle Eastern falafel with this step-by-step falafel recipe.

What is Falafel?

Falafel is a hugely popular snack originating in the Middle East. They are made of chickpeas, lots of fresh herbs and a few seasonings. They are most commonly shaped as balls and deep-fried.

Traditionally, falafel are part of any good Middle Eastern breakfast platter, mostly in combination with hummus, fresh vegetables, and other warm and cold mezze. Additionally, they make a great snack on-the-go, be it in a delicious falafel sandwich or as part of a salad.

Falafel Ingredients

Authentic falafel only need a few simple ingredients. They are naturally vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. There are some recipes out there that suggest adding flour but I let me assure you that the best falafel recipe won’t any flour to become so crispy and delicious!

You’ll need the following ingredients for this falafel recipe.

  • Dry chickpeas
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh parsley
  • Garlic cloves
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground coriander
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Oil for frying

Note: The exact quantities (according to the amount of servings) can be found in the recipe card at the end of this recipe.

Chickpeas

I cannot repeat this enough: for the best falafel recipe you have to use dry chickpeas! These need to be soaked overnight, ideally for 20-24 hours. After soaking the chickpeas, you can directly use them (no need to cook them). Please don’t use canned chickpeas. The latest are precooked and too soft. The falafel balls won’t hold together (unless you use flour, which spoils the taste) and won’t be crispy.

Fresh Cilantro and Parsley

Ideally, you’ll use a combination of fresh cilantro and fresh parsley. Although they look similar, they taste differently and will give your falafel a great flavour. However, if you don’t like cilantro, just double the amount of parsley instead.

Garlic

Use garlic cloves instead of powered garlic. Simply peel, cut off the ends and add to the food processor. If you follow the quantities mentioned in this recipe, your falafel will have a subtile garlic taste. You can add more or less garlic according to your likings.

Ground Cumin and Coriander

Ground cumin and ground coriander hugely popular spices in the Middle Eastern cuisine. Make sure to use ground cumin instead of cumin seeds to get the full flavour. You can find both spices online as well as in most Middle Eastern grocery stores.

Baking Soda

The baking soda will give the falafel mixture a final touch to their irristible tender and slightly fluffy texture. Baking soda is added to the mixture (mixture of crumbled chickpeas and herbs), together with the ground coriander and cumin.

Salt

Most falafel recipes contain a pinch of salt. Don’t worry, the amount of salt in this recipe is quite low. However, if you’ve cut salt from your diet, you can omit the salt.

Oil for Frying

Falafel are traditionally fried in vegetable oil. The most popular oil is sunflower oil. If you’re looking for a low-calorie recipe, you can also airfry or bake them instead. Carry on reading to learn more about how to make falafel.

3 Methods to Make Falafel

There are multiple ways of making falafel. Firstly, the traditional method suggesting deep-frying in oil (in a pan, pot or fryer). Additionally, you can also airfry them or bake them in the oven.

1# Method: Deep-Fry

Deep frying will undoubtly make the best falafel, ultra crispy on the outside and irrestibly tender on the inside. You can shape the falafel into balls when following this method as they will easily cook all the way through. To reduce the calories from the oil, transfer onto a double layer of kitchen paper after frying (the kitchen paper will absorb any excess oil).

2# Method: Air-Fry

Air fryers are (relatively) new method of making falafel (our grandmum’s didn’t have one). When airfrying, it’s best to shape them into flat patties, not balls. Spray the bottom of the airfryer with olive oil (to avoid sticking). Afterwards, place the patties into the airfryer, and spray with a thin layer of olive oil as well. Air fryer falafel will be lower in calories compared to frying in oil. Actually, air fried falafel are my second preferred option (sorry, nothing beats the authentic falafel). Air fried falafel have a better texture than oven-baked falafel.

3# Method: Oven-Bake

If you’d like a low-calorie recipe and don’t have an airfryer, you can also bake them in the oven. Oven-baked falafel are best when shaped into flat patties (not balls). Place on a tray covered with baking paper and spray with a thin layer of olive oil. Bake at 190 °C (375 °F) for 15 minutes, flip around and bake for another 15 minutes. The falafel will be golden brown on both sides and slightly crispy when baking in the oven.

Step-by-Step Falafel Recipe

1. Soak the chickpeas: Same as with hummus or any other Arabic chickpea dish, dry chickpeas work a lot better than canned options. Place the dry chickpeas in a bowl and add at least triple the quantity in cold water. Soak overnight (at least 12 hours, better 20-24 hours).

2. Drain and rinse: The chickpeas will double in size by the next day. Drain them in a colander and rinse well. Add to the blender. Don’t boil the chickpeas! Just add them to the blender after soaking and draining.

3. Peel a garlic clove: Peel a garlic clove, cut off the ends, chop and add to the blender.

4. Prepare cilantro and parsley: Fresh cilantro and parsley are key ingredients to flavorful falafel. They taste best when you use only the leaves, not the long stems. Cut the stems off and add only the leaves to the blender along with the chickpeas and garlic.

5. Blend: Blend all ingredients for about 4-5 minutes. Since the chickpeas weren’t boiled, blending them won’t result in a uniform, creamy purée but rather a blended mix with small bits of chickpeas throughout. If you have a small blender, it’s best to blend in multiple batches (always include chickpeas with some cilantro/parsley). Make sure that all the ingredients are finely blended (without large chunks of chickpeas or cilantro/parsley left).

6. Add spices: Transfer the chickpeas mixture into a mixing bowl. Add ground cumin, ground coriander, salt and baking soda and stir well (using your hands or a spoon). Cover the mixture and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

7. Shape the falafel: Now starts the fun part, making the falafels! The most common method is to shape them into round patties or circular balls. If you are making them in a pan, the best shape is round patties as this requires less oil compared to balls. For each patty, use about 1 tablespoon of the mixture. Use a falafel scooper or your hands to form balls.

8. Fry: Heat oil in a deep fryer or a frying pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.

9. Serve: Remove the falafels from the oil and transfer onto a serving plate. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley leaves and tahini sauce (optional).

Serve with fresh pita bread, hummus or as part of a colorful salad.

Authentic Middle Eastern Falafel Recipe

Authentic Falafel Recipe

Kitty
An easy-to-follow recipe for Middle Eastern falafel. This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, homemade falafel are an absolute delight!
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 7 mins
Resting Time 20 hrs
Total Time 20 hrs 37 mins
Course Breakfast, Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup dry chickpeas (250 grams)
  • 0.5 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 0.5 bunch fresh parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • Oil for frying

Instructions
 

  • Soak the chickpeas in water (1:3) for at least 20-24 hours.
  • Drain the soaked chickpeas in a colander and rinse with cold water.
  • Peel a garlic clove. Roughly chop. Add to the blender.
  • Roughly chop fresh cilantro and parsley and add to the blender. Dispose of the stems.
  • Blend for about 4-5 minutes until all the ingredients are finely blended.
  • Transfer into a mixing bowl. Add cumin, coriander powder, salt and baking soda. Mix well with your hands. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Take about 1 tablespoon of the mixture and shape into a round ball (when deep-frying). Check out my tips above for information on oven-baked falafel!
  • Heat oil in a pan. Add the falafel and fry for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove from the oil. Serve with fresh pita bread, hummus or as part of a colorful salad.
Keyword Falafel, Falafel Recipe, Mezze
When is falafel day?

Did you know that there is an international falafel day to celebrate the world’s best chickpea dish? Falafel day is celebrated on June 12th each year.

Where do falafel originate from?

Falafel originate in the Middle East, most likely in Egypt. It’s said that the history of falafel dates back to Pharaonic Egypt. Today, falafel is a hugely popular food across the world.

Why is falafel green inside?

Authentic falafel are made of a blend of chickpeas and fresh herbs (coriander and parsley) which are blend together. For this reason, good falafel are slighly green inside.

Why do falafel balls fall apart when frying?

Falafel frying apart is one of the most common problems when making falafel. The most common reason why this happens to you is because you used canned chickpeas, and not dry ones (you’ll find more information on dry chickpeas in this recipe). Another reason is that you didn’t allow the mixture enough time prior to use. After blending the ingredients, cool the falafel mixture in the fridge for about 2-3 hours.

Is falafel healthy?

Thanks to the main ingredients, chickpeas, falafel are very healthy. They are naturally high in protein and low in carbs. You’ll get extra healthy falafel (low fat) when airfrying or oven-baking them.

Which oil for falafel?

Falafel can be fried in vegetable oil. The most common oil is sunflower oil. It’s also possible to use olive oil, canola oil or corn oil, for instance.

How to make falafel?

There are multiple ways of making falafel. They are traditionally deep-fried in oil (in a pan, pot or fryer). Additionally, you can also airfry them or bake them in the oven.