Lebanese fried falafel is a delicious crunchy street food that's made up of pulsed chickpea beans, herbs, and spices. If you've ever set foot in the Middle East, you must have come across falafel. One of the most loved versions of fried falafel can be found in Lebanon and its recipe is quite unique.
What I Love About This Recipe
Fried falafel is versatile. It's the perfect appetizer, breakfast, vegan salad topping, or pita sandwich.
- Dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans): This recipes uses dried chickpeas not canned chickpeas or cooked chickpeas. I recommend using medium sized dried chickpeas, or garbanzo beans.
- Parsley: Fresh parsley adds a punch of flavor to the patties. You can use coriander instead or use a mix of both herbs but I personally recommend that you make falafel with parsley.
- Flour: A few tablespoons of flour are a must to bind the patties together during the frying process. This ingredient is also essential if you choose to bake the dish.
- Onions: These work as a binding agent and also add flavor to the patties.
- Garlic: A little goes a long way here. Some people like to skip this ingredient. However, I recommend that you add it and it's essential in most Lebanese versions of this dish.
- Baking powder: Super important to help the falafel patties fry up well.
- Allspice: A dash of allspice take this dish up a notch.
- Cumin: A little bit of dried, powdered cumin is also highly recommended but you can skip it if you don't have it on hand.
- Sesame seeds: This is an optional ingredient but I highly recommend that you sprinkle some sesame seeds on your patties before you fry them.
How To Make Fried Falafel
Soak the dried chickpeas for 24 hours. Drain the chickpeas and pat dry. Add the chickpeas, quarters onions, fresh parsley, garlic, flour, cumin, allspice, salt, and pepper to the food processor. Pulse until well blended. Put the dough in the fridge for one hour. After an hour, add the baking powder and mix. Using a falafel scoop (or ice cream scoop), form falafel patties.
Heat up the vegetable oil on the stovetop. When the oil is hot, add the falafel balls. Once they brown on the bottom, flip.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the falafel from the oil. Place on a paper-lined plate. Serve immediately.
Tips and Tricks
- Never use boiled or cooked chickpeas to make the falafel paste if you're planning to fry your patties. Why? Because the boiling process means the beans will retain moisture causing the patties to crumble apart once you place them in the fryer.
- Soak the dried chickpeas for 24 hours to soften. Don't use canned chickpeas for this fried falafel recipe.
- Put the falafel balls in the fridge for at least an hour before you fry them up.
Variations and Substitutions
Some people also like to use broad beans (fava beans) in this dish. If you want to use them, half the amount of chickpeas that our recipe calls for and add these instead (similar to this Egyptian falafel recipe also known as Ta'ameya).
Different kinds of fresh green herbs and mint can be added to this recipe but the original Lebanese way to make the patties only involves parsley or coriander.
Is It Possible To Lighten Up Falafel?
The answer is an absolute yes. While nothing tops crunchy, deep-fried falafel patties, there are other options if you're watching your waistline.
One way of lightening up this dish is by baking the falafel patties instead of frying them. Follow the exact recipe instructions but simply pop these in the oven instead of frying them.
Another way of lightening up this dish is by going light on the sauces that can make this dish heavier. Instead, opt for fresh, crunchy vegetables that also pair well here. Veggies that go amazingly well with falafel include tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, green peppers, green onions, and radishes.
- A good food processor to pulse blend the ingredients
- A falafel scooper (You can use an ice cream scooper instead or any ladle-style spoon)
- Baking sheets (to set the falafel patties on before frying/baking)
Ways To Serve
You can serve the patties on a bed of lettuce alongside a plate of pickles and veggies. Many of us (including myself) like to use the patties in wraps made up of pita bread, tarator sauce, veggies, and pickles. Other options for serving falafel:
- Big bowls of fattoush or tabbouleh go amazingly well with the falafel patties.
- In Lebanon, the dish is always drizzled with a tahini-based sauce called tarator.
- People also serve them alongside popular Levantine mezze dishes including hummus, foul medames and balila.
- In some Lebanese villages, falafel is often served with other plant-based dishes like loubye b zeit and moujadara.
- Homemade pita bread
Traditional Lebanese falafel is not gluten-free because it uses flour to bind the ingredients together. However, the Egyptian version of falafel, also known as Tamiya, is gluten-free.
The best oil to fry the falafel in is vegetable oil or canola oil.
Yes. Bake falafel instead of frying by placing the falafel patties on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Pat the falafel patties with olive oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil. Bake at 450 ℉ (232 ℃) on the bottom rack for 4 to 5 minutes.