What is Falafel?

Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish that incorporates mashed chickpeas and spices. The falafel are formed into balls or fritters, fried (substitution: can be baked) and usually pocketed in a pita. Toppings paired with falafel include: hummus, Israeli salad (chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions), pickled white/red cabbage, and tahini sauce (ground up sesame seeds).

Where Did it Originate?

There are a few countries associated with the ‘origin’ of the falafel; Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine, even India. However, it is one of the most popular, if not the dish of Israel! Falafel was brought upon by Yemeni Jews in the 1950s. They also introduced the idea of serving falafel in pita bread. Although there are many influences from surrounding countries, let’s get serious…falafel will always be an Israeli traditional dish!

Carmel Market:

While searching for a bite to eat, there are so many vendors at the Carmel Market that you can shop from. These are just a select few of different Middle Eastern spices featured at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. When walking around the market, the strong aromas of the spices entice you to check them out, an you can even taste some (before purchasing).

Rachel Sherman

 So, if you're in Tel Aviv, make sure to stop by the overwhelming market filled with spices, produce, clothing, jewelry, and so much more!

Another Israeli Delicacy:

Rachel Sherman

Become a "Kid in a Candy Store (or in this case, Market)!"

Rachel Sherman

Or try the fresh fruit, I mean look how red these strawberries are! The trip I went on in Israel is called Shorashim, which is a cultural trip: Tasting Israel Through a Lens.

Recipe for Traditional Falafel:


1 lb. dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans - you must start with dry, do NOT substitute canned, they will not work!

1 small onion, roughly chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

3-5 cloves garlic 

1 1/2 tbsp flour or chickpea flour

1 3/4 tsp salt

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Pinch of ground cardamom

Vegetable oil for frying - grapeseed, sunflower, avocado, canola, and peanut oils all work well


1. Pour the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover them by about 3 inches of cold water. Let them soak overnight. They will double in size as they soak – you will have between 4 and 5 cups of beans after soaking.

2. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans well. Pour them into your food processor along with the chopped onion, garlic cloves, parsley, flour or chickpea flour (use chickpea flour to make gluten free), salt, cumin, ground coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cardamom.

3. Pulse all ingredients together until a rough, coarse meal forms. Scrape the sides of the processor periodically and push the mixture down the sides. Process till the mixture is somewhere between the texture of couscous and a paste. You want the mixture to hold together, and a more paste-like consistency will help with that... but don't over-process  you don't want it turning into hummus.

4. Once the mixture reaches the desired consistency, pour it out into a bowl and use a fork to stir; this will make the texture more even throughout. Remove any large chickpea chunks that the processor missed.

5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

6. Note: Some people like to add baking soda to the mix to lighten up the texture inside of the falafel balls. I don’t usually add it, since the falafel is generally pretty fluffy on its own. If you would like to add it, dissolve 2 tsp of baking soda in 1 tbsp of water and mix it into the falafel mixture after it has been refrigerated.

7. Fill a skillet with vegetable oil to a depth of 1 ½ inches. I prefer to use cooking oil with a high smoke point, like grapeseed. Heat the oil slowly over medium heat. The ideal temperature to fry falafel is between 360 and 375 degrees F; the best way to monitor the temperature is to use a deep fry or candy thermometer. After making these a few times, you will start to get a feel for when the oil temperature is "right."

8. Meanwhile, form falafel mixture into round balls or slider-shaped patties using wet hands or a falafel scoop. I usually use about 2 tbsp of mixture per falafel. You can make them smaller or larger depending on your personal preference. The balls will stick together loosely at first, but will bind nicely once they begin to fry. 

9. If the balls won't hold together, place the mixture back in the processor again and continue processing to make it more paste-like. Keep in mind that the balls will be delicate at first; if you can get them into the hot oil, they will bind together and stick. If they still won't hold together, you can try adding 2-3 tbsp of flour or chickpea flour to the mixture. If they still won't hold, add 1-2 eggs to the mix. This should fix any issues you are having.

10. Before frying my first batch of falafel, I like to fry a test one in the center of the pan. If the oil is at the right temperature, it will take 2-3 minutes per side to brown (5-6 minutes total). If it browns faster than that, your oil is too hot and your falafels will not be fully cooked in the center. Cool the oil down slightly and try again. 

11. When the oil is at the right temperature, fry the falafels in batches of 5-6 at a time till golden brown on both sides. 

12. Once the falafels are fried, remove them from the oil using a slotted spoon.

13. Let them drain on paper towels. Serve the falafels fresh and hot; they go best with a plate of hummus and topped with creamy tahini sauce. You can also stuff them into a pita.

TRY!!! Healthier Substitution (Baked):




1. Preheat the oven to 375°F: Brush or rub a baking sheet with a thin layer of olive oil.

2. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor, except baking soda and flour: Add the chickpeas, onion, garlic, 1/4 cup parsley, and 1/4 cup cilantro to the bowl of a food processor. Sprinkle the olive oil, lemon juice, and spices over top.

3. Pulse until the ingredients are mixed: Pulse the food processor 10 or 12 times, until the chickpeas are chopped and all the ingredients are mixed

4. Add the baking powder: Sprinkle the baking powder and flour, if using, over the mixture.

5. Continue pulsing until the mixture forms a ball: Continue to mix the chickpeas in pulses, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mixture forms a ball when you squeeze it in your hand. You can completely puree the mixture if you like, but I prefer to leave it fairly chunk

6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping the falafel partway through: The falafel are fairly delicate (especially if you skipped the flour), so be gentle when flipping them. If one does fall apart, just press it back together with the back of your spatula. When finished cooking, the falafel should be golden brown on both sides and feel dry to the touch, but still give a little when you press the middle.

7. Eat warm or room temperature, or store for up to 5 days: Reheat cooked falafel for 30 seconds in the microwave before serving