Today, I’m sharing one of my favorite all-time recipes for falafel. One of the best things to come of my Vegetarian Times subscription, this falafel recipe is a no-brainer when I want a hearty meal or a crowd-pleaser for a potluck. Served with smoky tahini sauce and a ton of fixings, it makes for a satisfying and nutritious meal.
The secret to perfect falafel
I’m the first to admit that not all falafels are created equal. You may have heard me wax poetic before about food truck falafel (truly one of my faves), but I believe this recipe can rival even the best roadside bite.
Here’s what I love in a falafel patty: First, the outside must be crispy, and the inside must be airy and light. When I open a falafel patty, I want it to release steam, AND I want to feel a nice bite when I crunch it. I’m not a fan of over-fried falafel, with a tough shell, nor am I a fan of gummy falafel made of chickpea mash. And, of course, I want to taste more than beans! Is this up your alley? If so, here’s the 411:
Tip 1: Dry chickpeas, not cooked chickpeas
You begin this recipe by soaking dry chickpeas, but you don’t have to cook the beans before making the falafel dough. Not only does this save a massive amount of time, it also makes for airy bites and crispy coatings.
Tip 2: Baking soda
First, add some baking soda to the soaking water for your chickpeas. It will help them absorb more water by softening their skins. Later, add some baking soda to your falafel dough. It will react with the lemon juice to help create bubbles in your patties, ensuring they don’t get too dense.
Tip 3: Fresh herbs
This recipe calls for a whole cup of packed parsley, three cloves of garlic, a tablespoon lemon juice, and the light parts of a leek. Can I just give a shoutout to leeks for a moment? They’ve got such a pungent, earthy taste!
Tip 4: Pan fry, don’t deep fry
I shaped these patties into 1 tablespoon balls before pressing them flat: 1/4-1/2 inch thickness worked perfectly. That way, I could brown them on both sides while cooking them thoroughly in the middle. Pan frying isn’t a necessity, but I find it’s easier and less wasteful than deep frying. I used coconut oil for its high smoke-point, but any light oil will do.
Tip 5: The fixings
There are loads of options here, but I’ll mention a few of my favorites:
- Wrap it: Use a lettuce leaf, a pita half, or a tortilla as a wrap.
- Rice: Serve it over a big bed of white or yellow rice.
- Pickles: I used homemade pickles, but I see pickled red onions or beets going especially well.
- Greenery: I loved this with chopped parsley, but spring mix, lettuce, or microgreens could be tasty.
- Vegetables: I’m a radish fanatic, but I can also see this going with cucumber or tomato.
- Yogurt Dips: Plain yogurt works great. To take it up a notch, try a raita, maast-o khiar, or tzatziki.
- Smoky tahini sauce: Check out the recipe below!
- Hot sauce: natch.
Tip 6: Smoky tahini sauce
It seems like everyone and their mother are making a tahini sauce these days, and I have happily joined those numbers. It’s oh-so-good and easy-peasy. Just whisk these things together:
- lemon juice
- smoked paprika
- finely minced garlic
- kosher salt
Can’t go wrong! Enjoy your falafel platter, friends!Print
A falafel that’s crispy on the outside and airy on the inside–all topped with a smoky tahini sauce.
- 1 cup dry chickpeas
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 leek, white and light green parts roughly chopped
- 1 cup parsley, packed and roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
- black pepper, to taste
- dash hot sauce (optional)
- coconut oil, for frying
Smoky Tahini Sauce
- 6 tablespoons tahini
- 4 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Falafel
- In a large bowl, add the chickpeas and the 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Cover with 1-2 inches of water and let sit overnight (12-24 hours).
- The next day, drain the chickpeas and add to a large food processor, along with the leek, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, salt, 1/3 teaspoon baking soda, black pepper, and hot sauce. Process for about a minute or until it forms a nice dough.
- To create the falafel patties, scoop an even 1 tablespoon of chickpea mixture and form into a ball. Then, pat the ball into a disk 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Heat 1/4 inch layer of oil in a ceramic frying pan over medium heat. To test if the oil is hot enough, dip a wooden spoon into it. If it forms bubbles immediately, you’re ready to fry.
- Fill the pan with as many falafel patties as can fit. Fry until dark brown underneath (about 2 minutes), then flip and fry until dark brown on the other side (about 2 minutes). Remove the falafel to a plate or cooling rack lined with paper towels to absorb the extra oil. This will keep your falafel crispy.
- Repeat step 5 until all the falafel are cooked. You may need to occasionally adjust the heat to ensure your oil stays at just the right temperature. You also will need to add a little extra coconut oil after each batch.
- Serve over greens or rice, on a sandwich, and with any fixings you want!
For the Smoky Tahini Sauce
- To a small bowl, add the tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, and salt. Whisk until smooth.
- The sauce should be creamy but not scoopable, pourable but not watery. Depending on the consistency of your tahini, you may need more or less water. If you’ve added too much tahini, just add some more water. If you’ve added too much water, just add some more tahini.
Adapted from the recipe for “Traditional Falafel” from Vegetarian Times.
Keywords: falafel, tahini, tahini sauce, tahini dressing, falafel platter, vegetarian, comfort food, vegan