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Chickpea Falafel

Top your falafel with tahini sauces, fresh greens, tomato/cucumber salad, or whatever you wish (Kayte Young/WFIU)

Falafel is a vegetarian dish with origins in the Middle East. Israelis and Palestinians have been arguing over who gets to claim Falafel as their own, but the spicy, fried, bean-nuggets most likely originated in Egypt.

They are sometimes made with fava beans but chickpeas are also common.

This simple falafel preparation uses soaked chickpeas rather than cooked ones. They finish cooking in the hot oil.

These go great with Eric's Spelt Pita Bread, but if you don't have time for that, just warm up some store-bought pitas in the oven (wrap them in foil first).

Note: this recipe was inspired by one from Smitten Kitchen and one from Joy of Cooking.

Chickpea Falafel


  • 1/2 pound (1 1/4 cups) dried chickpeas
  • 1/2 a large onion, quartered
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • a handful of fresh parsley
  • a handful of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Peanut or vegetable oil for frying


  1. The night before: cover the chickpeas in water with a half tablespoon of salt added.
  2. Let chickpeas soak overnight.
  3. When ready to make the falafel, chop the onion, garlic and fresh herbs in the food processor.
  4. Pulse until finely chopped, but not a paste.
  5. Add the soaked chickpeas, salt and cumin.
  6. Pulse in the food processor until the mixture resembles the texture of bulgar (think "tabouli")
  7. Transfer to a bowl and cover.
  8. Let the mixture rest in the fridge for at least a half hour, longer if possible.
  9. Heat about an inch of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan.
  10. Use a thermometer, and when the temperature reaches between 350 degrees and 375F, you are ready to fry the falafel.
  11. Lay out some paper towels on a plate, and get out a slotted spoon.
  12. Form the falafel mixture into balls or small patties about 1-2 inches around. Squeeze them tightly so they hold together.
  13. Use the slotted spoon to drop them into the heated oil, about 4 at a time.
  14. Adjust heat to account for the drop in temperature when the falafel is added.
  15. Fry until golden brown all around, flipping as needed (about 3-5 minutes).
  16. Remove with slotted spoon, and place on paper towels.
  17. Adjust the heat, and repeat until all of the falafel pieces are cooked.
  18. Serve immediately with a lemon tahini sauce, cucumbers and tomatoes, lettuce, kale (or other toppings of your choice)-- all nestled inside a warm pita pocket.

Note: this recipe was inspired by one from Smitten Kitchen and one from Joy of Cooking.

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