5 Ways to Bake and Fry Your Favorite Falafel at Home

Falafel is a favorite street food choice, and its popularity is only growing. The fried balls of chickpeas are perfect in pitas, on salads, or on their own, and they satiate both vegetarians and meat-eaters. Many people think they can only indulge their falafel craving when they visit their faithful street vendor, but what they don’t recognize is that they can actually perfect the Middle Eastern dish themselves, and even healthify the fried balls.

Here is a roundup of 5 recipes that highlight how you can make falafel at home and different ways you can serve it. Some of these formulas are healthier than others, but they’re all easy and delicious.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

1. Fried Falafel

Here’s a recipe for fried falafel balls highlighted on Epicurious, featured in Joan Nathan’s cookbookThe Foods of Israel Today. This recipe yields 20 balls, and requires you to get down with deep-frying. Luckily, the directions are intuitive, and the ingredient list isn’t intimidating. Follow Nathan’s directions and learn how to make the traditional Middle Eastern balls yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • ½ large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½-1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons flour
  • Soybean or vegetable oil for frying
  • Chopped tomato for garnish
  • Diced onion for garnish
  • Diced green bell pepper for garnish
  • Tahina sauce
  • Pita bread

Directions: Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.

Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed. Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. Add enough bulgur or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and doesn’t stick to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.

Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts. Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, onion, green pepper, and pickled turnips. Drizzle with tahina thinned with water.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

2. Baked Falafel

A healthier version of falafel comes in the baked variety with a recipe from Cookie and Kate. Rather than frying her balls of ground chickpeas, Kate bakes them, and then tops them with a tahini and dill dressing. To make the falafel, you only need olive oil, chickpeas, red onions, and a handful of seasonings, and both the balls and falafel can be made in the food processor. Next time you are craving a light (gluten-free) dinner, try this falafel and explore how good the fried food can taste baked.

Ingredients:

Falafel

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, rinsed, picked over and soaked for at least one hour and up to overnight
  • ⅓ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground sea salt or kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Tahini and Dill Dressing

  • ¼ cup tahini
  • Zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • pinch of cayenne
  • ⅓ cup water

Directions: With an oven rack in the middle position, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a large cast iron skillet with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil. In a food processor, combine the soaked and drained chickpeas, red onion, parsley, cilantro, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Using your hands, scoop out about 2 tablespoons of the mixture at a time. Shape the falafel into small patties, about 2 inches wide and ½ inch thick. Place each falafel on your oiled skillet or pan. Bake for 13 minutes, then remove the falafel from the oven and carefully flip each one. Return the pans to the oven for another 13 to 15 minutes, until the falafels are lightly browned on both sides.

In a small food processor, combine all of the ingredients and blend well. You can also whisk the ingredients together by hand in a small bowl, just note that you’ll need to chop the fresh herbs and zest more finely than you would if you were using a food processor.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

3. Falafel in Pita with Yogurt Sauce

When you get falafel off the street, you usually get the fried balls of chickpeas nestled in a warm pita. With this recipe from Guy Fieri, featured on Food.com, you can make that exact treat at home. You’ll fry the balls of ground chickpeas, and then also put together a yogurt sauce that will get drizzled over the falafel and pita. Yielding 4 servings, if you make these for your next family dinner, it’s safe to say you’ll be giving your favorite street vendor a run for his or her money.

Ingredients:

Falafel

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, plus extra for frying
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans chick peas, drained
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • ¾ cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • Pitas

Yogurt Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ½ tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt

Directions: In medium skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil and sweat onion and peppers 2 to 3 minutes then garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse together chick peas, red chili flakes, ground cumin, the egg, salt, and black pepper to form a coarse consistency. Then add flour, parsley, and cilantro. Pulse until mixture starts pulling from the sides of the food processor.Remove mixture to a large bowl and mix in the onion mixture. Chill falafel until ready to cook.

Roll falafel dough into 1-inch rounds.In a thick-bottomed skillet heat ½ inch of canola oil over medium heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook falafel balls a few at a time, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Be sure to turn them so they do not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt while still hot.

Open the pita bread to make pockets. Place 3 to 4 falafels inside. Stuff with lettuce tomato and cucumbers and drizzle sauce generously on the inside. Serve immediately.

For dipping sauce: Mix the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, cilantro, parsley and cumin together in a small bowl. Add salt to taste. Chill until ready to use.

Falafel, vegetables, salad

Source: iStock

4. Baked Red Lentil Falafel Salad

As mentioned before, you can also have your falafel on a salad and in the baked form. This recipe from The Kitchn shows you how to have your falafel and eat healthy, too. These baked falafel balls are made primarily out of red lentils and chickpeas, meaning they’re packed with protein and fiber. Put them on a salad, drizzle them with tahini dressing, and you’re good to go. A healthy, Middle Eastern-inspired dinner is the way to go.

Ingredients:

Falafel

  • 1 cup dry split red lentils
  • 2 cups loosely-packed Italian parsley leaves, stems removed
  • 2 cups loosely-packed cilantro leaves, stems removed
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 to 2 serrano peppers, to taste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons whole sesame seed tahini paste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-3 tablespoons chickpea flour
  • Olive oil spray

Tahini dressing

  • ⅓ cup whole sesame seed tahini paste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • ¼ cup minced Italian parsley
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Salad

  • 3 cups shredded lacinato (tuscan) kale
  • 3 carrots, shaved into ribbons
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions: Soak the lentils in fresh water overnight. When ready to make the falafels, strain and rinse the soaked lentils. Make sure to pick through the batch and discard any stones or debris.

In a food processor, pulse the lentils until they are coarsely ground, 3 to 5 times. Add the parsley, cilantro, garlic, onion, and serrano pepper to the bowl, and pulse another few times. Drizzle in the tahini paste, olive oil, spices, salt and pepper, and blend until almost smooth. Make sure not to over blend the mixture; you still want some crumb. Taste the mixture, and adjust the seasoning according to your liking. Add the baking soda and the chickpea flour. Start by adding 1 tablespoon of chickpea flour at a time. If the mixture is still too liquidy add another. Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

To make the tahini dressing, whisk the tahini paste, lemon juice, and water together until creamy. Mix in the grated garlic clove, minced parsley, paprika, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss the salad ingredients together. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out 2 tablespoons of the refrigerated falafel mixture into the palm of your hand. Roll into a ball and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Generously coat the falafels with olive oil spray and bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

5. Falafel Pie

Last but not least: Falafel Pie from Heat Oven to 350. If you don’t feel like forming your ground chickpeas into balls, take a shortcut and instead bake them in a pie pan as a falafel base. Then, top your “pie” with your favorite toppings and you have yourself a healthy, Middle Eastern-spin on traditional pizza. Follow this recipe from Heat Oven to 350 and see for yourself. This is one pie you’ll never forget or regret.

Directions:

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • ½ large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried hot red pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped tomato
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives
  • ¾ cup Hummus

Directions: Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. You can skip this step if using canned chickpeas.

Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onion half in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.  Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough can form a small ball. Add extra flour if necessary.

Oil the bottom of one or two 9-inch pie pans. Add the falafel mix into the pie pan(s) and pat it down until it is uniformly flat. Brush the top of the falafel with more oil. Bake just until the top appears dry and the falafel is firm to the touch, about 15 to 17 minutes if using 2 pie pans and 20 to 23 min if using one. Top falafel with hummus, cucumbers and tomatoes.

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