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9 March 2008

Mad About Chickpeas- Falafel

Bethany Kehdy Duncain Baird Cookbook 2013 Behind the scenes, photography by Sarka Babicka - Falafel

Mad About Chickpeas- Falafel
Prep time

Cook time

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It’s commonly believed that falafel (known as taamiya in Egypt) originated millennia ago in Egypt, where they were prepared using a mixture of broad beans and chickpeas. I prefer to stick to the Lebanese version which uses chickpeas only, but don’t be tempted to the tinned variety, as they will fall apart. A versatile food, falafel make for a satiating meal for breakfast (traditional in the Middle East), lunch or dinner.
Serves: 20-24

  • 250g/9oz/1 heaped cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed with the blade of a knife
  • 1?2 green pepper, deseeded
  • 1 handful of mint leaves
  • 1 handful of parsley leaves
  • 1 handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1?2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1?2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp plain flour (optional)
  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • 4–6 small loaves of Arabic Bread (see page 217 of The Jewelled Kitchen)
  • shredded lettuce
  • Tarator (see page 220 of The Jewelled Kitchen)
  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced (optional)
  • pickles, banana peppers, turnips and beets, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper

  1. Drain the chickpeas well and leave in a colander for 2 hours to remove as much moisture as possible, shaking the colander every once in a while. Alternatively, a faster approach would be to use a salad spinner, if you have one: add the chickpeas, close and spin 2–3 times to remove the excess moisture. Set aside.
  2. Puttheonion,garlic,pepper,herbs,saltandspicesintoafood processor and whiz for 1–2 minutes until blended into a rough paste
  3. (it should not be too smooth or the batter will fall apart during cooking). Squeeze out any excess water and discard it. Return the paste to the
  4. food processor and add the drained chickpeas and pulse a few times to incorporate until you have a smooth paste. The consistency of the paste should be grainy with a shade of pistachio green. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed, then add the bicarbonate of soda. Add the flour
  5. if you think the mixture needs help with binding. Mix well to combine. Using a tablespoon, form the chickpea mixture into 2.5cm/1in patties, handling the mixture as little as possible. You should make 20–24 patties. Place on a baking sheet and set aside to firm up.
  6. Preheat the oven to low. Pour the oil into a wide, deep pan or wok and place over a medium heat. Alternatively, use a deep-fat fryer, in whichcase you’ll need more oil. The oil is ready when it begins to bubble or reaches 180 ?C/350 ?F. If you don't have a thermometer, check the readiness of the oil by dropping a small piece of the falafel mixture into the oil: if it browns within 1 minute, the oil is ready.
  7. Gently transfer the patties into the hot oil in 2–3 batches and deep-fry for 1–2 minutes on each side until golden brown (or for 3–4 minutes
  8. in total if deep frying). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the patties to a plate lined with kitchen paper. Place in the oven while deep-frying the remaining patties. Once cooked, cut the patties in half, if you like. Add the Arabic Bread to the oven and warm for 1 minute.
  9. Lay a loaf of bread on a plate. Sprinkle a little lettuce in the centre
  10. of the loaf. Put some of the falafel patties on the lettuce, drizzle with some tarator, top with some accompaniments and sprinkle with parsley. Tightly roll up the bread, tucking in one end. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve using kitchen paper or napkins to soak up the juices.

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19 thoughts on “Mad About Chickpeas- Falafel

  1. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts, the beautiful photos, the text, it makes me so proud that you are Lebanese and honoring your country this way. Way to go!

  2. I’m eager to try this recipe out! You’re really cute, by the way 😉 Actually, cute isn’t strong enough a word. Gorgeous! Umm, erm, back to the recipe. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Making a perfect falafel is impossible – only god can achieve this!

    However, he would be proud of a very rustic interpretation of the crunchy croquette,,,bravo…this is what a falafel should look like!!!

  4. Do they call the sauce “Tarator” in Lebanon? In Bulgaria, Tarator is a lovely cold soup of yoghurt, garlic, cucumbers, salt, dill and (surprise) ground walnut meal. If made thick it goes well on bruschette…

  5. Do you need to cook a little bit chickpeas before graining them? I try to make them but they did not stay together. What would you recommend for that problem? Thanks a lot

  6. I try again to make falafel. This time I follow exact recipe. it was great. Taste delicious. Thanks again

    1. Great news! It’s a wonderful recipe and I’m glad it worked for you 🙂 Thanks for your feedback!

  7. This recipe is FANTASTIC! I am on a stupidly restricted diet by my nutritionist due to health issues and this recipe has all ingredients I love and should have! I replaced the allspice with garam masala which was probably naughty but it was tasty! I served it with your tarator sauce, (which I seriously adore), lettuce and tomato salad and gluten free flat bread which I just found ( It was so good. Thank you for your wonderful recipes. 🙂

  8. Hi Beth

    We had a mezze night and made a lot of the different recipes you have on your website. I’m glad to say that most of them turned out lovely. We did have a problem with the Falafels though , they did not stick together , have you got any suggestions ?


  9. Hello Amanda,

    Thanks a lot for the feedback. The only thing I can think of is that they were not well strained after the soaking period. I usually spin them in a salad spinner and you’ll see while they may look dry there is so much moisture. Also if you used wet herbs (rinsed but not dried well) that could be another factor.

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