I’ve steered clear of homemade falafel my entire adult life, an aversion related to a botched boxed falafel mix, my parents tried when I was a kid. That’s not to say I haven’t eaten my fair share over the years. At McGill, there was this strange little basement café in the Architecture building that sold a weirdly delicious falafel pita (cold, even) I use to eat all the time. Then there’s Rami’s in Brookline, MA, with its bar-setting buttery, crisp, oh so delicious falafel all wrapped up in pillowy hot pita bread and smothered in tahini sauce and pickles. One of many little places I miss in Boston.
A couple weekends back, I spied a recipe on the lovely Food 52 that sparked my interest; faintly green with fresh herbs and shallow-fried, the recipe promised these were the “world’s easiest falafel.” Jen and I dragged out her mini-food processor, soaked some chickpeas, and made ourselves some pretty delicious little falafel.
There’s certainly nothing complicated here, but some forethought is required – soak your chickpeas the night before, drain them in the morning, and remember to lay them out to dry a couple of hours before you start. Then, everything gets blitzed in the food processor, formed into patties, and fried until golden crisp.
The results? Maybe not quite at Rami’s divine level, but these were some of the best falafel I’ve ever eaten. And better yet, they only improved as they sat in the fridge, becoming softer and smoother inside and even more crisply delicious outside.
Serve with lots of homemade tzatiki, tahini sauce, or even hummus and a big plate of warm pita – this is a great starter dish for any meat eaters in your life skeptical of legumes’ charm.
Adapted from Food 52. Makes about 30 small falafel and serves 8-12. (This is a huge recipe in my opinion – I would cut it in half unless you’re feeding a crowd.) The falafel keep well uncooked up to a week in the refrigerator – they can be fried when ready to serve. Already cooked falafel really don’t keep well at all – only cook what you can eat right away!
- 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 1/2 bunch parsley, washed and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 bunch cilantro or mint, washed and coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 piece of bread
- 1 tsp salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- jucie of one lemon
- canola oil for frying
- To serve: warm pita or flat bread, pickles, hot sauce, shredded cabbage, tzatiki, tahini sauce and/or hummus
Drain the chickpeas well and set them on 2 cookie sheets lined with paper towel to air dry for at least 2 hours.
Combine the dried chickpeas, the onion, herbs, garlic, egg, bread, salt, pepper, cumin, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and process until very finely ground – you don’t want any large chunks or your falafel will fall apart.
Once processed, form into small patties, about 2 inches across. Set on a cookie sheet to rest for 30 minutes.
Pour about 1 inch of canola oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Test the oil to see if it’s hot enough by dropping a small amount of the falafel mixure into the oil – it should sizzle. Once hot, carefully slide the falafel into the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan – you’ll have to cook in batches. Cook unitl golden brown on the underside (2-3 minutes) and then flip and cook an addional 1-2 minutes until golden brown on the other side. Remove from the oil and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
Serve hot in a warm pita topped with plenty of tzatiki and/or tahini sauce, pickles, shredded cabbage, and hot sauce.