Falafel heaven


I think we may be going through the moon’s Falafel phase, because a couple other Vegan Mofo bloggers have made and blogged about falafels in the last couple of days. (Hi, Jeni!)

Falafel sandwich

If you’ve never had a homemade falafel sandwich, you are really missing out on something Very Delicious and Very Delectable. While bought ones CAN be good… even really very yummy and tasty… they can also be not very good at all.

Make falafels yourself and you can be guaranteed of making a lip-smacking good meal. (The kind that makes you wish you’d made more, even when you’re stuffed full of falafel goodness and couldn’t possibly eat any more.)

A warning to the fried-food-phobics out there! These are fried, specifically deep-fried. But they are soooo good.

Some falafels are made with dried chickpeas which have been soaked overnight but not cooked (I think this is the “authentic” way). The first time Mr Thrifty and I attempted homemade falafels this way, the pesky little balls fell apart in the fryer. Falafel crumbs! We rescued the batch by mixing the remainder with a tin of pureed chickpeas to hold them together. Success! Though perhaps not completely authentic.

We always make enough of these to do three meals of four sandwiches (yes, Mr Thrifty and I have two sandwiches each… they are that good!)

Tahini paste is like peanut butter, but made with sesame seeds. It has recently almost doubled in price at some places in these parts, so shop around.

Instead of the tin of chickpeas, you can use home-cooked chickpeas (which is what I usually do), and use a bit of cooking liquid instead of the reserved liquid from the tin. Start with 110g (1/2 cup) dry chickpeas and let Stanley cook ’em!

Heavenly falafel sandwiches

British American
For the falafels
(makes 24, enough for 12 sandwiches)
250g dried chickpeas, soaked in water for 24 hours 1-1/8 cups
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon
1 small onion, very finely chopped 1
handful fresh coriander (cilantro), very finely chopped handful
1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon
4 cloves garlic, minced 4
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted in a dry skillet and ground 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds 1 teaspoon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/8 teaspoon
freshly ground pepper to taste
400g tin chickpeas, drained & rinsed (reserve liquid) 14 ounce can
2-3 tablespoons reserved chickpea liquid 2-3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon tahini paste 1 tablespoon
lemon juice & salt for sprinkling over hot falafels
For the salad (enough for four sandwiches)
300g finely diced cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion 2 cups
2 tablespoons minced fresh coriander (cilantro) 2 tablespoons
salt to taste
For the tahini sauce
(enough for four sandwiches)
4 tablespoons tahini paste 4 tablespoons
4 tablespoons water 4 tablespoons
4 teaspoons lemon juice 4 teaspoons
1 clove garlic, minced 1
1/8 teaspoon cayenne 1/8 teaspoon
  salt to taste  
And finally…        
4 pita breads 4

1. Drain soaked chickpeas and put them in a food processor. Add bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and salt. Turn machine on and blend until you have the texture of coarse breadcrumbs. (I do this in two batches as I have a small food processor.)

2. Empty the chickpeas crumbs into a large bowl. Add the onion, fresh coriander (cilantro), lemon juice, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne and pepper. Mix gently.

3. In a food processor or blender, combine tinned chickpeas with 1 tablespoon tahini and 2 tablespoons chickpea liquid. Process until smooth. Scrape down sides and add more chickpea liquid if necessary to make a smooth paste.

3. Add the chickpea puree to the chickpea crumb mixture and mix thoroughly. Form into small patties and deep-fry in batches at 180C until golden (about 3 minutes). Don’t do more than one layer at a time.

4. Remove from fryer and drain on a tray lined with kitchen paper. Sprinkle hot falafels with lemon juice & salt. Repeat with remaining falafels.

5. To make salad, combine diced vegetables with fresh coriander (cilantro) and salt.

6. Warm pita breads and slit one side open. Use about 1/2 cup salad and two falafels per pita, and spoon tahini sauce over top.

Remaining falafels can be frozen. Reheat in a 160C (320F) oven for 20 minutes, until hot.


  1. Falafel phase – hee hee hee.
    I used tinned Chickpeas because they are easier to bind. Incidentally I fried our ones we had for dinner and then there were some left over which I baked out of curiosity whilst something else was in the oven – and the baked ones came out BRILLIANT!!
    I will bake them from now on ‘cos then you can eat twice as many!!

  2. Hmmm, TWICE as many falafels, you say. Now THAT is a very very appealing idea…

  3. Thanks Jeni for the tip on baking. I’m trying to avoid deep-frying, so will give that a go…

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