Falafel are one of the great street foods of the Middle East. They are small patties of ground chickpeas or fava beans, well-seasoned and then deep-fried in oil. The small, protein-rich snacks are usually shaped into a slightly flattened ball, with a crisp golden exterior and soft, mealy interior. Falafel can be made with soaked, dry chickpeas or canned chickpeas, though the canned version has a higher moisture content and may require the addition of flour or breadcrumbs. The addition of flour or breadcrumbs and deep-frying them at the correct temperature will prevent them falling apart.
Things You'll Need
- Deep fryer, or a straight-sided pot and candy/deep fry thermometer
- Vegetable oil
- Prepared falafel
- Slotted spoon
- Dried paper
Fill your deep fryer to the level indicated by the manufacturer. If you do not have a deep fryer, fill a straight-sided pot no more than halfway with vegetable oil and attach a candy/deep fry thermometer to the side of the pot.
Heat the oil to a temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Slide the prepared falafel a few at a time into the hot oil. They should be completely submerged and should be moving freely in the hot oil.
Fry the first batch until they are a deep golden brown, usually three to four minutes. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with brown paper. Keep warm in your oven while you fry the remaining falafel.
Allow the oil to come back up to temperature before adding any more falafel. Continue until all the falafel are fried.
Serve hot with your choice of sauce and accompaniments.
Tips & Warnings
- Two traditional ways to serve falafel are with a dipping sauce of tahini (sesame paste), garlic and lemon, or wrapped in a pita with lettuce, tomato and plain yogurt.
- Preparation can be simplified by the use of a commercial falafel mix, but the best results are obtained with dry chickpeas, soaked overnight with a small amount of baking soda in the soaking water.
- Add a small pinch of baking powder when mixing the falafel for a fluffier texture.
- Chickpeas are also sold as garbanzo beans and in some areas are easier to find under that name.
- Always use caution when deep-frying in an open pot. Protect yourself from splatters by wearing an apron and a shirt with long sleeves and keep children out of the kitchen until the frying is finished.
- "A New Book of Middle Eastern Food"; Claudia Roden; 1985
- "Mediterranean Street Food"; Anissa Helou; 2002
- Syracuse.com; Feasting on Falafel: The Middle East's Famous Fried Patties Can Be Addictive; Don Cazentre; Oct. 2010
- Epicurious; Falafel With Hummus; March 2010
- Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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