Today I feel like celebrating! I finally cracked the falafel code! After attempt after attempt and huge kitchen messes with chickpeas all over the place, I finally found the authentic falafel recipe that is as good as a restaurant!
I never thought I’d get here, but with a little patience, perseverance, and way TOO many chickpeas, I developed a recipe for some really awesome falafels.
My recipe uses canned chickpeas. Now, I know that many people say that it is necessary to use dried chickpeas that are soaked overnight, but I wanted to develop a recipe that is quicker and easier for everyday use because most people probably have canned chickpeas on hand at any given time. The key for me was to use a firmer canned chickpea and to drain and dry them really well. I’ve tried a couple of canned chickpea varieties and I’ve found that Goya brand has a little bit more firmness in it even in canned form, and this helps to hold the falafels together when you cook them. After rinsing, I drain them and pat well with a paper towel to remove excess water.
The rest of my ingredients are pretty standard falafel ingredients; cumin, coriander, onion, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper. The key to making great falafels is also in how much flour you add to the batter. Knowing when the falafel batter is too wet and won’t stay together is crucial to not making a green gooey mess in your kitchen. So I recommend making a “test” falafel in the saute pan or deep fryer to see how your falafel will hold its shape when cooked. Add a little flour at a time until you are easily able to scoop and form falafel balls.
My falafels were pan fried, as I am not a fan of deep frying anything when I cook at home. Deep fried falafels are a treat I reserve for restaurants in the name of “falafel research” 😉 Mine turned out soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, and my husband said they “melted in my mouth”. Win! That’s what a falafel enthusiast wants to hear. If you prefer a little more texture inside the falafel, I’d suggest not pulsing the chickpeas down to a paste in the food processor. However, falafels that are smooth inside stay softer in the fridge and don’t get too hard and dry after a few hours or days.
Some falafel recipes, such as Egyptian tamiya, call for the use of all or some fava beans to replace of chickpeas. I haven’t tried this yet but I am planning to develop a falafel recipe using fava beans soon. I am also planning to post a recipe using dried and soaked chickpeas for those who do not like using canned foods. I hope you enjoy these falafels! Stay tuned for more falafel goodness to come!!
Makes 25-30 falafel balls depending on how big you form them
• Two 15 oz. can chickpeas (equivalent to about 1 cup dried chickpeas)
• 3-4 medium cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
• 1.5 tsp. ground coriander
• 2.5 tsp. ground cumin
• 1 tsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more if you like things spicy)
• 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
• 1 tsp. salt
• ½ tsp. ground black pepper
• 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
• 2 packed cups roughly chopped fresh parsley
• ½ large white onion about 6 cm diameter (or 1 whole small onion), roughly chopped
• 5-6 tbsp. all-purpose flour (or more as needed, up to about ½ cup)
• Optional: 2-3 tsp. sesame seeds
1. Combine salt, ground black pepper, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, nutmeg, and coriander in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
2. Drain 2 cans of chickpeas in a colander under water. Rinse with water and dry chickpeas with a paper towel. Add in small batches in the food processor and pulse to a smooth paste (I have a small food processor, so this took me a few batches).
3. When chickpeas are finely pulsed in the food processor to paste form (not too mushy), leave about ¼ cup chickpea paste in bowl of food processor and remove remaining chickpea paste and place in a large bowl and set aside.
4. Add spice mixture to the food processor and pulse small amount of chickpea paste and spice mixture until thoroughly combined together. Remove this mixture from food processor and add it to the rest of the chickpea paste that was set aside in a bowl. Thoroughly mix all of the chickpea paste and spices together until uniform.
5. Add roughly chopped parsley to the food processor and pulse until parsley is very finely chopped into tiny leaf pieces. Add parsley to the chickpea mixture in the bowl and set aside.
6. Add chopped garlic and white onion to the bowl of a food processor. Chop mixture in food processor until vegetables are in very fine mince. Add 3 tbsp. flour to the food processor with vegetables and process mixture until all ingredients are well combined and fluffy.
7. In a large bowl, combine garlic/onion mixture with chickpea/spices/parsley mixture and mix everything thoroughly, evenly distributing parsley and vegetable mixture with chickpea paste. Don’t be afraid to use your hands! Add in 1 tsp. of baking powder and mix everything thoroughly again. Add additional flour as needed, until mixture reaches smooth consistency that enables you to form firm patties, not too wet or sticky but also not too dry and crumbly. Optional: add in 2-3 tsp. sesame seeds and distribute throughout falafel batter. Let falafel mixture sit for 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Roll falafel into balls or patties. Place them on a greased baking sheet for baking or on a plate if frying.
8. Cooking: I pan-fried my falafels in about 2-3 tbsp. light olive oil in batches of four at a time. You can go the traditional route and deep fry them in oil as well. For the healthiest option, bake falafels at 375°F for about 25 minutes, until golden-brown on bottom and firm on the outside, but not burned.