Israeli Chickpea Balls (Falafel)

Israelis who argue falafel is their own invention face strong objections from Egyptians, Palestinians, and the Lebanese, who claim to be the sole owners. After one bite of these warm, crunchy outside, soft inside balls of goodness, where they originated from seems pretty irrelevant as long as you can get your hands on them at any hour.

The dish most likely originated in Egypt, possibly influenced by similar Indian dishes. Falafel is a common form of street food in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. They are often served as part of a meze. Falafel is been considered a national dish of Egypt, Palestine, and Israel.

Falafel actually plays an outsized role in Israeli cuisine. While falafel is not a specifically a Jewish dish, it was adopted by Israeli’s as it is plant based and allowed to be eaten with both meat and dairy meals in a Kosher diet.

Falafel – Fried Herb-Laced Chickpea Balls

Disks or balls of spiced chickpeas are fairly easy to make. Although not necessary, the trick to making exceptional falafels is to use dried chickpeas soaked overnight. These crispy-soft warm falafel go to another level when served in a warm pita bread pocket with shredded cabbage, tomato, cucumber, pickles, and covered in Tahini Sauce and Schug hot sauce. They also make a great meze and are good enough to be served alone with a tahini dip and some hot sauce or on top of a salad.
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Course: Lunch, Meze, Snack, Street Food
Cuisine: Israel, Middle Eastern
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Soaking: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 35 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Food Processor or blender
  • Large heavy skillet, wok or deep fryer
  • Large baking pan lined with parchment paper
  • Slotted spoon

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup Fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup Fresh parsley
  • 10 stalk Scallions, white and pale green parts only, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Ground cumin
  • ½ tsp Ground coriander seed
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 cups Vegetable oil

Instructions

  • Soak dried chickpeas overnight in cold water. If using canned, drain and rinse well.
  • Process chickpeas, garlic, cilantro, parsley, salt, pepper, coriander, and cumin until smooth, around a minute. Scrape down sides as necessary. Scrape mixture into a bowl and refrigerate uncovered for 20 minutes.
  • Scoop out a heaping tbsp chickpea mixture into your hand and form a rough 1½-inch round by 1-inch thick disk. Place disks on the parchment lined baking pan. Remove pan to refrigerator until ready to cook.
  • To cook, fill a deep 12-inch cast iron skillet or wok with ¾-inch of oil. Heat over high heat until oil registered 375°F (190°C) on a instant-read thermometer. Cooking in batches, lower disks into oil without them touching. Once the bottoms are well browned, about 2 minutes, turn them over. Brown thoroughly another 2-3 minutes. Transfer to paper lined plates and lightly salt. When oil temperature goes back up to 375°, repeat until done. Serve hot with tahini or in pita with all the fixings.

Notes

  • Canned chickpeas may be used but won’t be as crispy. Use one 15 oz can of chickpeas and rinse them thoroughly with cold water before using. 
  • Falafel are traditionally round balls that are either pan fried or deep fried. The disks in this recipe require less oil.

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