What is falafel?
Falafel is a popular Middle Eastern fried chickpea ball flavoured with herbs and spices.
Ideal for vegans and vegetarians, mainly because it’s delicious, versatile and easy to prepare… what’s not to love? The Middle Eastern snack is a great source of protein, carbohydrates and fibre with all-natural ingredients and zero-waste.
It’s believed that falafel originated in Egypt where it is still popular today at street food stalls throughout the country, as well as in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.
Vendors sell falafel as ‘fast food’ and each will have their own secret blend of herbs and spices which makes their recipe unique.
Our easy vegan falafel recipe uses authentic ingredients which can be a base for your own experimentation, the recipe can be spiced up with the addition of ingredients such as chilli, dill, mint, cilantro, sesame seeds, sun-dried tomato or harissa.
Which chickpeas should I use to make falafel?
When it comes to making falafel there are two options for the main ingredient of the dish, both with separate advantages. The question is whether to use canned chickpeas or dried chickpeas?
Canned chickpeas are convenient, affordable and consistent. The chickpeas which are purchased in a can are pre-cooked which provides both their advantages and disadvantages for when making falafel. The pre-cooked option allows the process to be hassle-free and quick to make however some feel canned chickpeas make a falafel mixture too wet and don’t provide enough starch. Luckily this isn’t an issue I’ve ever experienced with my falafel still turning out light and fluffy on the inside.
Dried chickpeas in comparison are possibly more difficult to find depending on where you live, take a little more time to prepare but do allow for control on how cooked your chickpeas are. Traditional recipes generally instruct to soak dried chickpeas in cold water overnight. After soaking, wash and drain, then grind the chickpeas in a food processor without cooking.
Our recipe uses canned chickpeas but can easily be substituted if you’d rather use dried chickpeas using the exact same ratio of other ingredients.
How to cook falafel?
Traditionally falafel is fried and we’ve chosen to follow the classic method in our recipe. However if you’re looking for a healthier alternative these delicious chickpea balls can also be created with simple baking. Follow our easy vegan falafel recipe below until Step 6 then:
For baking, preheat an oven to 180C. Lightly oil the falafels and the baking tray to prevent sticking and encourage a crunchy exterior. Place the tray of falafel into the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Then flip the falafel to cook the other side and bake for a further 10 minutes.
How to serve falafel?
Falafel is extremely versatile, it’s amazing in so many ways, served hot or cold, at breakfast, lunch or dinner, as a snack or a side. Below are a few suggestions for how we love to serve easy vegan falafel.
A healthy dinner can be created with the easy combination of crunchy vegetables alongside falafel, the contrast of textures works amazingly. Classically eaten with red onion, tomato, cucumber and lettuce, also try radish, peppers, red cabbage and pickles!
With A Dip
Serve falafel as a light lunch or snack on its own with a dip. Middle Eastern dips which pair perfectly include hummus, baba ganoush or a smooth nutty tahini sauce, our favourite is a homemade version by Cookie+kate, https://cookieandkate.com/best-tahini-sauce-recipe.
Pitta bread or Flatbread
For the complete experience feature the falafel in a combination of the other suggested servings. Either wrapped in a toasted flatbread or stuffed into a pitta combine a generous helping of tahini sauce, a couple of falafel and a crunchy salad layered together for a hearty Middle Eastern meal.
Step-by-Step Guide on how to make Easy Vegan Falafel Recipe
Step 1: Drain the canned chickpeas into a strainer and rinse with cold water.
Step 2: Into a food processor add the chickpeas, onion, garlic and parsley. Blitz to form a rough paste.
Step 3: Then add the cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and flour. Blitz again to bring the ingredients together, the mixture should be well combined but still coarse to provide texture to the falafel.
Step 4: Transfer the falafel mix into a mixing bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The chilling allows the mix to set which will prevent the falafel from falling apart when they are fried.
Step 5: After chilling, remove the falafel mix from the refrigerator and shape into balls or patties. To shape you can use an ice cream scoop or your hands to form golf ball sized falafel.
Step 6: Roll the mix in the palm of your hand till tightly formed and smooth, then place the falafel onto a lined baking tray.
Step 7: Place a medium saucepan on a medium heat and add sunflower oil to fill 1/3 of the pan.
Step 8: Heat the oil till approximately 170C, add one falafel to test the temperature, it should lightly sizzle and gradually brown. If the oil is not hot enough the falafel will fall apart and if it is too hot then it will burn.
Step 9: Fry the falafel in the saucepan of oil in batches for around 7 minutes. Cook till light brown, the falafel should be crispy on the outside with a light fully flavoured center.
Step 10: Serve hot or cold with toasted flatbread, a crisp salad or a tahini dressing.
I hope you enjoyed my Easy Vegan Falafel Recipe!
Give this recipe a try and leave a comment with photos of your delicious falafel balls!