What is Falafel?

Felafel Balls

Photo: Crispy Felafel Balls
Photo: Crispy Felafel Balls | Source

Popular in the Middle East, Falafel is Now Turning up in North America

In recent years, falafel has made an appearance in North America. Falafel mixes are turning up in health food stores and markets, while fried falafel balls and patties are served in trendy restaurants.

Falafel has long been used in Indian cooking and is eaten in Pakistan. In Israel, falafel is considered a tasty snack. Chick pea falafel is served in the Middle East while fava bean falafel is prepared in Egypt and Sudan. Falafel is considered a fast food in some places and is sold by street vendors.

As can be seen, falafel has seen wide use and for those who are vegetarian or vegan, it offers another food item to add to the menu.

You may have wondered, though, what exactly is falafel? What ingredients go into it?

Falafel + Dipping Sauce = Delicious!

Fried falafel balls are delicious served with a dipping sauce.

What is Falafel?

Falafel is a vegetarian food made from either ground field beans, ground chick peas, or a mixture of the two. Prior to use, the beans are soaked, then they are ground and mixed with other herbs and spices. Unlike other recipes, which use cooked beans, falafel is made from uncooked or lightly cooked beans.

Common ingredients in falafel include: onions, garlic, parsley, mint, coriander and cumin. These ingredients are added to the falafel mixture and impart color and flavor.

Sesame seeds are sometimes added to falafel, especially if falafel is to be used as a stand-alone dish.

How is Falafel prepared?

Falafel can be purchased in a convenient falafel mix, which is moistened with water and allowed to sit. The falafel is usually shaped into balls and deep fried or shaped into patties and cooked in a frying pan.

Falafel scoops aid in making perfectly shaped falafel balls. Falafel makers usually have a lever so that falafel nuggets can be released into hot oil.

Some people choose to make their own falafel. This takes more time but making homemade falafel allows for greater choice of which herbs and spices go into a falafel recipe.

Baked or Fried Falafel?

For those who want to cut down on fat, falafel balls and patties can be baked in the oven.

Balls or Patties?

How will you have your falafel, in balls or patties?

Why not toss some falafel nuggets into a salad or try a tasty and crispy falafel pattie instead of meat, for a satisfying vegetarian meal?

How is Falafel Served?

Falafel can be served alone or as a side dish. Tasty falafel balls are used as an ingredient in pita bread and in salads. Falafel patties can be used to make falafel burgers. Falafel is often served with a variety of pickled vegetables and sauces such as tahini or yogurt are used to top falafel.

Recent inventions have involved use of filled falafel. The falafel is used as a savory coating around other ingredients such as ground meat or onions.

Falafel bars are popular eating places and falafel has caught on to the extent that there is now a McFalafel burger offered via McDonalds in certain areas.

Pita Stuffed With Felafel

Photo: Pitas Bread Stuffed With Felafel
Photo: Pitas Bread Stuffed With Felafel | Source

Nutritious and Tasty Falafel is a Great Item to Add to the Vegetarian Menu!

Falafel is a nutritious, high-protein, high fiber food, offering health-conscious consumers another way to add beans or chickpeas to a meatless diet. Falafel is a satisfying vegetarian food.

Have You Tried Falafel?

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© 2013 Athlyn Green

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Comments 3 comments

Tuatha profile image

Tuatha 3 years ago from Fayetteville, NC

My friend has been after me for a year to try this. Every so often he will ask me if I know what one is. I would say no and he would give me the short version of the origins of a falafel. Now I can give him the run down. Thanks!


creativelycc profile image

creativelycc 3 years ago from Maine

Falafel is one of my favorite middle eastern dishes. It is full of protein and other nutrients. A great substitution to meat. Excellent hub!


heidithorne profile image

heidithorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

Well, that answered my question! There's a new falafel restaurant in our area and I was wondering what it was all about. Thanks for clarifying!

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