These classic falafel balls are a delicious alternative to meat. The base ingredient is chickpeas, making them a satisfying option suitable for vegans.
One of my favorite Israeli street foods is falafel. There are many great spots for it—way too many to be honest—but none of them taste quite like my mom’s homemade falafel. The recipe I’m sharing today is one of her oldest ones, with its age showing just how good it is.
Since it’s a family favorite, she tends to surprise us when making it, and I can smell it long before reaching the doorstep. And when she does make it, it always comes with the full package: fresh pita from the bakery and homemade salads, French fries, and tahini.
Make sure to prepare ahead because you need to soak uncooked chickpeas in cold water for about 12 hours.
If the falafel falls apart during frying, that usually means the mixture is too wet (which is easy enough to fix with more flour) or too dry. Alternatively, your oil may not be hot enough.
A common way to eat falafel in Israel is to stuff it into a pita and add hummus or tahini, tomato cucumber salad, or French fries. It’s so freakin’ delicious!
- 1 cup chickpeas (uncooked), rinsed twice
- A slice of white bread , crust removed
- 1 small onion , chopped
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or more, as needed)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ - 1 teaspoon salt (or more, as needed)
- A few turns of black pepper
- Canola or vegetable oil , for frying
Place chickpeas in a large bowl and fill with cold water until they’re covered. Let soak overnight or for 12 hours, then drain well.
Move chickpeas to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until ground.
Take the slice of bread, soak it in water, then squeeze out the excess. Crumble it into pieces in the food processor. Add all remaining ingredients and process until mixture is combined but slightly granular.
Form mixture into balls, about the size of a walnut (they’ll expand during frying).
Frying: In a large, deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 2-3 in./5-7 cm of oil. To test if the oil is hot enough, insert a thermometer into the oil and see if it reaches 375F/190C. If you don’t have a thermometer to test, insert a wooden spoon into the oil; it’s ready for frying when bubbles appear around the stick. If it bubbles vigorously, it’s too hot. Carefully add falafel balls, a few at a time, depending on how large the saucepan is. If falafel falls apart, you may need to add more flour to a too-wet mixture, or turn up the heat. Fry until golden brown, a few minutes on each side. Drain and move to a paper towel-lined plate.
* Soaked bread is the secret to these amazing falafel because it acts as a binder and makes them soft and tender. Soak a slice of bread in water to soften it, then squeeze out the water, crumble into large pieces, and add to the mixture. Fresh or day-old bread is fine.