Indulge in the delicious flavors of the Middle East with this easy falafel balls recipe. These crispy and flavorful chickpea patties are a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and can be enjoyed in various ways!
Made with simple ingredients like chickpeas, fresh herbs, and spices, these homemade falafel balls are a delightful vegetarian or vegan option for any meal, especially with our delicious Tahini Sauce!
This post is sponsored by Vibe Israel. All opinions are 100% my own.
I was invited by Vibe to experience the flavors of Israel for a weeklong food tour, and absolutely loved every delicious second in the country - Israel has some of the best food on earth - from traditional Arabic foods, to European Jewish classics, to dishes from America, Asia, South America - and even Australia and the South Pacific! Israel is truly a melting pot full of cuisine from all over.
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Fried Chickpea Falafel
Falafel is indeed a significant part of Israeli cuisine and has been adopted as a kind of national dish, though its origins trace back to various countries in the Middle East like Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt- which is where falafel first started, though Egyptian falafel often uses fava beans instead of chickpeas. Falafel has long been a common street food in Israel, available almost everywhere, from high-end restaurants to street vendors. It's considered a staple food item for many Israelis, being part of everyday food culture.
Falafel's popularity in Israel is partly due to its suitability for a variety of dietary requirements. Being plant-based, it's an excellent option for vegetarians and vegans. Also, because it contains no dairy or meat products, it aligns with kosher dietary laws, making it a universally acceptable choice in a country where many follow these dietary restrictions. Falafel is high in protein (thanks to the chickpeas) and fiber, making it a nutritious choice. When paired with fresh vegetables and tahini, it becomes a well-rounded meal.
In recent years, falafel has assumed an important role in the culinary identity of Israel. Despite its shared history with other Middle Eastern nations, Israelis have embraced falafel as a symbol of their national cuisine. As Israeli cuisine gains global recognition, falafel has become one of its most recognizable ambassadors. Its popularity worldwide is contributing to the international image of Israeli culinary culture.
While falafel is deeply embedded in the food culture of many Middle Eastern countries, and historically has origins in other cultures, each with its own unique version, in Israel, falafel has become a national icon and a beloved part of the culinary landscape!
To make the falafel, simply blend together the chickpeas, herbs, spices, and other ingredients in a food processor until a coarse mixture forms. Shape the mixture into small balls and fry them until golden and crispy. The result is a batch of falafel balls with a crispy exterior and a soft and flavorful interior.
Serve the falafel balls in warm pita bread or on a bed of fresh salad, accompanied by creamy tahini sauce or tzatziki for dipping. They can also be enjoyed as a protein-packed snack or added to bowls, wraps, or sandwiches for an extra burst of flavor.
This easy falafel balls recipe is perfect for those who want to explore the rich and diverse flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine. With its simple preparation and fantastic taste, it's a dish that will surely impress your family and friends. Whether you're a vegetarian, vegan, or simply a falafel enthusiast, these homemade falafel balls are a delicious and satisfying choice.
How to Make Falafel Balls
To make this recipe, we will need the following ingredients:
- 1 cup dried chickpeas: Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are the base of the falafel. They provide a dense texture and a slightly nutty flavor. They're also a good source of protein and fiber.
- ½ large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup): The onion provides a sweet, tangy flavor that balances the earthiness of the chickpeas. It also adds moisture to the mix.
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley: Parsley adds a fresh, herbal flavor that brightens up the falafel.
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro: Cilantro brings a distinct, citrusy flavor that complements the other ingredients.
- 1 teaspoon salt: Salt enhances the flavors of the other ingredients and makes the falafel more savory.
- ½-1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper (depending on taste): This adds a bit of heat to the falafel. You can adjust the amount based on how spicy you like your food.
- 4 cloves of garlic: Garlic gives the falafel a bold, savory flavor.
- 1 teaspoon cumin: Cumin adds a warm, earthy flavor and is a traditional spice used in Middle Eastern cuisine.
- 1 teaspoon baking powder: Baking powder helps lighten the texture of the falafel balls, making them slightly fluffy on the inside.
- 4-6 tablespoons flour (or as needed): Flour acts as a binder, helping the falafel mixture hold together when it's fried.
- Soybean or vegetable oil for frying: The oil cooks the falafel, giving them a crispy exterior while keeping the interior moist and flavorful. Soybean and vegetable oil are often used because they have a relatively high smoke point and a neutral flavor that doesn't interfere with the taste of the falafel.
Once you've gathered your ingredients, we will use the following process:
- Soak chickpeas: Place dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover with cold water. Allow them to soak overnight, or for at least 12 hours. They should double in size as they soak. You should have about 2 cups of soaked chickpeas after this step. Drain your soaked chickpeas and transfer them to your food processor.
- Mix falafel: Add chopped onions, parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin to the processor. Process until the mixture is blended but not pureed. Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough bulgur or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and does not stick to your hands. If it's too wet, add a little bit more flour.
- Chill: Transfer this mixture to a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
- Make falafel balls: Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts, or use a falafel scoop, available in Middle-Eastern markets. I also use a ¼ cup metal measuring scoop which is easy to pack and gives you a sort of hockey-puck circle shaped falafel ball.
- Fry: Heat 3 inches of oil in a deep pot or wok to 375 degrees. Fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour to the mixture. Then fry about six balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels.
Tips and Tricks to Perfect Falafel Balls
Use dried chickpeas: Dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight give the best texture and flavor. Using canned chickpeas can result in a mushy texture.
Don't overprocess: When processing the chickpeas and other ingredients, aim for a grainy paste, not a smooth puree. This will give your falafel a better texture.
Chill the mixture: After processing the ingredients, chill the mixture for a few hours. This helps firm it up and makes it easier to form into balls.
Get the right consistency: The mixture should hold together when squeezed. If it’s too dry, add a little water. If it’s too wet, add some more flour or bulgur.
Test a small piece first: Before frying the whole batch, fry a small piece to make sure the oil is at the right temperature (375 degrees F) and that the falafel doesn't fall apart. If it does, you might need to add more flour.
Use the right oil temperature: Too hot and the falafels will burn on the outside and be raw inside; too cool and they will absorb too much oil and become greasy. Use a thermometer to maintain the right temperature if you can.
Don't crowd the pan: When frying, don't add too many falafels at once. They should be able to float freely in the oil. Crowding the pan can drop the temperature of the oil and lead to greasy falafels.
Drain well: After frying, drain the falafel balls well on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
Serve fresh: Falafel is best served hot and fresh, right after frying for the crispiest experience.
While you technically can, the texture of falafels made from canned chickpeas tends to be mushier and less authentic. Dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight generally yield better results - when I use canned chickpeas, my falafel always falls apart when frying because it's far too mushy.
Yes, you can bake falafel if you're looking for a lower-fat version. However, the texture will be different: they won't be as crispy as when they are fried.
Yes, you can make falafel gluten-free by using gluten-free flour instead of regular flour.
Yes, you can freeze both the mixture and the uncooked falafel balls. If freezing the balls, place them on a tray in the freezer first so they don't stick together, then transfer them to a freezer bag once frozen. Thaw before frying.
Falafel is typically served in a pita bread with tahini sauce and salad. It also pairs well with hummus, pickles, or a side of couscous.
Traditional falafel is made with chickpeas. However, you can experiment with other types of beans like fava beans. The flavor and texture may be slightly different, but still enjoyable.
Your mixture might be too wet. Try adding a bit more flour to the mix. Also, be sure not to overcrowd the frying pan, which can lower the oil temperature and cause the falafel to fall apart.
Yes, you can make the falafel mixture a day in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to fry. This can actually help the flavors meld together.
What to Serve With Falafel Balls
For a delicious, fresh falafel pita we strongly recommend our simple and easy Tahini Sauce - it is the perfect creamy, nutty, rich sauce to serve with falafel!
We also love making falafel pitas stuffed with Easy Hummus and Zhoug (Skhug) Sauce as well as Israeli Salad and serving Tahini roasted cauliflower alongside!
You can see more from my trip with Vibe Israel in the following Instagram reels:
- Jerusalem tour
- Nazareth tour
- Farma Cultura, Bnei Zion
- Home cooking demo in Jaffa
- Market tour with Buka Tours
- Chickpea Pomegranate Salad
- Tahini Roasted Cauliflower
- Israeli Salad
- Roasted Tahini Pomegranate Eggplants
- Easy Hummus Recipe
- Easy Baba Ganoush Recipe
- Roasted Beet Hummus
- Israeli Cardamom Coffee
Easy Falafel Balls Recipe
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Easy Falafel Balls
Delicious Mediterranean falafel balls are delicious and packed with veggies!
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- ½ large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½-1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper (depending on taste)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4-6 tablespoons flour (or as needed)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Place dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover with cold water. Allow them to soak overnight, or for at least 12 hours. They should double in size as they soak. You should have about 2 cups of soaked chickpeas after this step.
- Drain your soaked chickpeas and transfer them to your food processor.
- Add chopped onions, parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin to the processor. Process until the mixture is blended but not pureed.
- Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough bulgur or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and does not stick to your hands. If it's too wet, add a little bit more flour.
- Transfer this mixture to a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
- Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts, or use a falafel scoop, available in Middle-Eastern markets.
- Heat 3 inches of oil in a deep pot or wok to 375 degrees. Fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour to the mixture. Then fry about six balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels.
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Ninja BN601 Professional Plus Food Processor, 1000 Peak Watts, 4 Functions for Chopping, Slicing, Purees & Dough with 9-Cup Processor Bowl, 3 Blades, Food Chute & Pusher, Silver
IBYX Falafel Scoop - Stainless Steel Professional Falafel Maker Scoop | Food Safe and Non-Sticky Stainless-Steel Falafel Baller Tool | Falafel Frozen Falafel Mix | Simple Scoop and Drop (Medium)
HexClad Hybrid Stainless Steel 10 Inch Wok Pan with Stay Cool Handle, Dishwasher and Oven Safe, Works with Induction, Ceramic, Non Stick, Electric, and Gas Cooktops
Serving Size5 falafel balls
Amount Per Serving Calories 126Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 0mgSodium 530mgCarbohydrates 19gFiber 4gSugar 2gProtein 4g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.
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