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Sunday, January 10, 2021

My Favorite Perfect Falafel Balls Recipe

This time when my son was visiting us for Christmas, he made a special request for having homemade falafel. I am so proud of myself for making everything from homemade Pita bread to falafel balls, tahini sauce, hot garlic sauce,  hummus and even turnip pickle all from scratch.  So far I have been making the Falalfel balls out of chick peas, them come out okay but  I have been looking for a perfect recipe for the Falafel balls. My neighbor who is from Lebanon gave me some verbal tips and told me to make these ball not only with chickpeas but with Fava beans. She told me that these are available in two forms one is with skin and other without skin, she told me to use the one without skin. Then I followed my recipe for the the Falafel and these came out really good and close to what you get at local Middle Eastern restaurants.  I thought I will share this recipe for making falafel balls with you. I have recipe for pita bread already on the this blog.

So what are falafel balls: Falafel is a deep fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans or both. Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food commonly served in a pita which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread. Falafel" also frequently refers to a wrapped sandwich that is prepared in this way. The falafel balls are topped with salads,pickled vegetables, hot sauce and  and drizzled with tahini based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a  tray (assortment of appetizers).

The word falāfil   is of Arabic origin and is the plural of filfil  pepper',  borrowed from persian pilpil   from the Sanskrit  word pippalī long pepper'; or an earlier *filfal, from Aramaic pilpāl 'small round thing, peppercorn', derived from palpēl 'to be round, roll'.

Falafel is known as taʿmiya  in Egypt and Sudan. The word is derived from a diminutive form of the Arabic word ṭaʿām ( "food"); the particular form indicates "a unit" of the given root in this case  having to do with taste and food), thus meaning "a little piece of food" or "small tasty thing"

The word falafel can refer to the fritters themselves or to sandwiches filled with them.

In North America, prior to the 1970s, falafel was found only in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Jewish neighborhoods and restaurants. Today, the dish is a common and popular street food in many cities throughout North America.

Falafel has become popular among vegetarians and  vegans as an alternative to meat-based street foods,  and is now sold in packaged mixes in health-food stores While traditionally thought of as being used to make veggie burgers its use has expanded as more and more people have adopted it as a source of protein. 

Ingredients: (to soak overnight)

  • 1 lb split shelled fava beans
  • 1 cup of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Water enough to submerge the both the beans

Method to soak beans:

  • Wash both beans and place them in a large bowl filled with water so the beans and submerged in water 3-4 inches. 
  • Add baking soda and soak overnight.

Ingredients to add to ground beans: 

  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1-2 leaks with greens
  • 4-5 spring onions with greens
  • 1 small bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves stem removed
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill
  • 7-8 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 1 or one half fresh jalapeno pepper or Serrano pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon  crushed red pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon of ground dry  coriander
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin powder (I used roasted and plain both)
  • 1 teaspoon of Sumac  (middle eastern spice, see below)
  • 1/4 cup of bread crumb to be added in side the batter
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda * to be added last min before frying
  • 1/4 cup of sesame seeds * to be added last min before frying 
  • 1 and half  cup of Panko bread crumbs to roll the balls in before frying
  • Vegetable Oil for frying at 375 degree F at medium high heat)


  • Drain the soaked beans completely and pat dry.
  • In a food processor grind all the onions, leaks, garlic, pepper and greens to fine paste. Set aside.
  • In the same food processor bowl grind the beans to fine paste.
  • Add the green paste and grind it again.
  • Add all the spices except baking soda and sesame seeds.
  • Transfer the fella mix in bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least and hour or until ready to cook even until next day.

Sumac comes from the fruit of a bush indigenous to the Middle East. The bush is actually a member of the cashew family and the fruit is used widely in Turkey and other Arabic countries. Sumac is a main ingredient in the Middle Eastern spice blend Za'atar.

Flavor of Sumac

These dried ground berries are tart and lemony and pair well with allspice, cumin, garlic, paprika, and thyme.

  • Just before frying add baking soda, bread crumb and sesame seeds.
  • Mix well.
  • Heat the oil at 375 degree F in deep fryer. (I used NuWave induction stove with its flat bottom copper frying pan and set the temp at 375 F this way there is no guessing game about keeping the temp constant for frying)
  • Scoop the mixture with ice cream scoop or with tablespoon and make small sized patties or walnut or golf ball size balls.
  • Roll them on to Panko crumbs.

  • Carefully drop the falafel balls /patties in the oil let them fry for about 3 min then turn them over and fry for additional 2 min until crispy and medium brown on outside.
  • I usually fry one patty first, and see how it comes out, then you can fry few at at time together but do not overcrowd the frying pan.
  • Place the fried balls on plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.
  • Serve hot or assemble in pita pocket bread  with hummus, tahini, tomatoes, cucumber,  lettuce, turnip pickle.

Enjoy !! 

You can bake them instead of frying but I don't recommend it s they come out very dry.  You can try it if you like, you have to give a patty shape and not the ball:  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and lightly oil a baking sheet. Give each patty a quick brush of  generous coat  olive oil before baking; bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, turning the falafel.

Falafel information source:

Recipe  adapted by Surekha from a verbal recipe given to her by her neighbor.

Photographs by Surekhapatties over halfway through baking.
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