Truly Authentic Falafel
***Updated with new images 5/12/2017 ****
If you were to come to my house for dinner, chances are I would offer to make you an amazing falafel dinner. It’s one of my favorite meals to make! I would make homemade hummus with my own tahini, I would throw down a basket of gluten free naan, and we would slather it with tzatziki before loading it up with grilled veggies, and crispy falafel. We would eat our weight in falafel and probably want to take a nap afterwards…seriously, it happens.
Up until a few months ago I really thought I had falafel nailed down. That was of course until I read that real deal authentic falafel is made in a meat grinder. WHAT?! Honestly, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. With a primarily vegetarian household I tend to shy away from things like meat grinders, because seriously why would I ever buy one? Turns out after a lot of research that this $30 gadget is actually great for a lot of things other than making ground meat. Who knew?
You can grind soaked chickpeas, herbs, and spices for falafel, you can makes salsa, grind hominy for tamales, even make fruit purees. Since Christmas was around the corner I asked for one. I am pretty sure that Todd thought I had LOST my mind, but being the super supportive husband that he is he went along with my whim. I made falafel the first opportunity I had and all I can say is WHOA! It’s a whole new ballgame around here and my falafel making game is officially on point.
Now, I am not telling you that you have to have a meat grinder to make this falafel, but the texture is light and airy as opposed to being more dense and compact when you make falafel with a food processor. It is a world of difference in texture, both are amazing in flavor, and either way your family and friends will rave about your amazing falafel to everyone they know. However, if you are a true falfel snob like my family tends to be, a meat grinder is the way to go. It’s a super small investment for a lifetime of amazing falafel.
Also – an added bonus that works no matter how you choose to make your falafel: This recipe makes a lot of falafel, but it freezes great! Form the falafel into balls or patties, freeze it on a sheet pan before transferring to a plastic zip bag for long term storage. The falafel can go straight into the hot oil from the freezer without a problem. Just add another minute or so to the cook time. Perfect golden falafel!
Looking for a meaty main dish to turn your falafel fest into a full on feast? Check out our Rosemary Lamb Kofta recipe by clicking here.
- 2 cups dried chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
- Zest of 1 lemon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 1½ teaspoons Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning after cooking
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- grape seed oil for frying
- Place chickpeas in a large bowl and fill with water to cover them to a depth of 3 inches. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave on counter for 24 hours. The chickpeas will triple in size and absorb quite a bit of the water so check a few times during soaking to see if you need to add more water.Once the beans have soaked for 24 hours, drain and rinse well.
- Place the cumin and coriander seeds in an 8-inch cast-iron skillet and set over medium high heat. Cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the seeds give off an aroma and just begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the toasted spices to a spice grinder and process until finely ground. Set aside.
- Place the drained chickpeas, ground spices, garlic, onion, cilantro, and parsley into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine then feed through the meat grinder in small batches until everything has been ground.
- Mix the lemon zest, cayenne, salt, and black pepper into the ground chickpeas then roll a small amount of the mixture into a walnut sized ball or a small patty with your hands. The mixture should hold together nicely and not fall apart.
- Continue rolling the rest of the batter into uniform size balls or patties so that they will cook in the same amount of time. I used a small ice cream scoop and had falafels that were about the size of golf balls. Place the uncooked falafel on a large plate or baking sheet until ready to cook.
- Pour oil in a Dutch oven or a large, high-sided skillet to a depth of 2-3 inches, enough to cover the falafel. Place a thermometer into the oil and heat over med-high heat until the temperature reaches 360° - 375° F.
- While the oil is heating place a flattened paper grocery bag onto a baking sheet and cover with a few clean paper towels. This will help to collect the oil as it drains off of your falafel.
- When the oil is to temp fry a test falafel. The oil should bubble up and sizzle all around it. The falafel itself should stay together in one piece and not break apart at all. It should take 2 - 3 minutes to fry to a beautiful golden brown. If your falafel is not completely submerged flip and cook the other side until it’s nice and browned all over. Remove the cooked falafel from the oil and drain on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt while the falafel is still hot. Fry the remaining falafel in batches, being careful to not over crowd the pan and drop the temp of the oil.