June 15, 2011


I love falafel.   I have for years, since I first had it at a Lebanese restaurant while in graduate school, more than two decades ago.  I used to look forward to going to the Downtown Des Moines Farmer's Markets on Saturday mornings during the spring through the fall in large part to get some of the falafel served by a vendor who, sadly, eventually moved out of the area.  What I'd never done, until fairly recently, was made falafel myself.    It was about time, and I'm glad I did.

I started by looking up a bunch of falafel recipes.  I ended up utilizing elements from a number of different recipes, attempting to create falafel with just the right texture and mixture of flavors.  I ended up going a bit heavier on the garlic than is the case with many recipes, and I also went with a bit more in the way of herbs, in order to give the falafel both a nice, green color and a more pleasant and complex mix of flavors.  

My first try was a success.  The falafel ended up looking a bit overcooked, which I attribute to probably having the oil a bit too hot (the heat I list in the recipe below is a bit lower than the temperature at which I cooked my falafel, so it should be fine), but they tasted great!   We had ours with ample servings of Tahini Sauce and thin slices of cucumber and tomato.   This made for a really pleasant, filling meal with good leftovers (leftover falafel warms up great in the microwave if covered with a slightly-damp paper towel). 


yield =5 servings

1           cup dried chickpeas
1/2        cup chopped red onion
4           garlic cloves, chopped
1/3        cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/3        cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/4        cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3/4        teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2        teaspoon ground coriander
1/2        teaspoon ground cumin
1/2        teaspoon baking powder
1/2        teaspoon  table salt
1/8        teaspoon cayenne pepper
1           cup canola or vegetable oil
5           flatbreads or pita breads
1           recipe Tahini Sauce
             chopped tomatoes and thinly-sliced cucumbers
               or other garnishes to taste

Put the chickpeas in a medium bowl and add enough water to cover them with an inch of water.  Allow the chickpeas to soak at least overnight, but less than 24 hours.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to a food processor along with the onion and garlic.  Pulse to form a coarse puree, then add the mint, parsley, cilantro, pepper, coriander, cumin, baking powder, salt and cayenne and process into a thick, green paste.  Cover and let rest for at least 1/2 hour before cooking to allow the pase to firm up and the flavors to blend.

Form the chickpea mixture into small patties (approximately 16).  Heat oil to 365 degrees in a skillet or Dutch oven.  Add several falafel patties to the pan, making sure to not add so many that they touch.  Cook until golden-brown on one side, then flip and cook until browned on the other side.  Transfer cooked falafel to a paper-towel lined plate to drain, then repeat with the remaining patties.

Serve on pita or flatbread  along with Tahini Sauce, tomato and cucumber slices or other condiments and garnishes to taste.  Fold bread around the other ingredients to form a sandwich.

Other Serving Ideas:
If you're watching carbs, you might like an idea Juli came up with:  Skip the bread and simply spread a bit of the Tahini Sauce atop the cooked Falafel patties, then top with veggies.  These might make for a nice appetizer.


  1. This was my absolute favorite food at Des Moines farmers market. Does this taste anything like hers? I don't think they moved. They still show up every so often at smaller farmers markets.

  2. Which ones? Definitely worth checking out!