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  • Writer's pictureEmily Yeo

Easy Baked Falafel

One thing that I love about Middle Eastern cuisine is how recipe ingredients are so simple (and affordable!), but everything is still packed with flavour. And this falafel recipe is certainly no exception to that rule!

Are you a falafel fan? If you haven’t tried this delicious Middle Eastern food, you are missing out! Falafel is a Middle Eastern fast food, basically made of chickpeas, garlic, fresh herbs and spices. They are usually deep fried so they get super crispy on the outside, and remain tender on the inside. My falafel recipe is not totally traditional, but it is delicious and easy to make at home!

Every chickpea dreams of being transformed into a falafel! Ultra crispy on the outside, moist and fluffy on the inside, everybody loves them but few know how easy they are to make. The best part is breaking open the golden brown balls to reveal the dazzling green insides!

! Falafel is a ubiquitous Middle Eastern “fast food.” In Egypt, it’s the people’s daily grub. In fact, there is a falafel shop or street vendor in almost every Egyptian neighborhood. Why? Because, to Egyptians, a day that does not include a little freshly fried falafel is simply not a productive day. Falafels are vegan patties where the main ingredient is dried chickpeas that have been soaked in water until they are easily ground. The falafel mixture also includes a healthy dose of fresh herbs and warm spices like ground cumin and coriander.

Falafel recipes can be broadly divided into two categories: those that start with dried chickpeas and those that start with canned. In the past, I'd leaned toward the canned-chickpea recipes, since the extra steps of soaking and precooking dried chickpeas felt like too much of a pain on top of the required deep-frying. Boy, what a mistake that was.

Turns out that dried chickpeas are essential to good falafel. See, canned chickpeas have already been cooked. Starch molecules within them have already burst and released their sticky contents, much of which get washed away in the cooking liquid, leaving the remaining chickpeas with very little clinging power.

World, meet falafel. Falafel, meet your eaters. This recipe really threw me for a loop! But after multiple rounds of testing, I believe it’s perfected and ready to be enjoyed by all of you. I have been wanting to share a falafel recipe for soooooo long now. These little nuggets are not only super healthy, they are also protein-packed and tasty. Oh, and easy to make at home.

I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t love falafel and it is pretty much the standard restaurant vegetarian option for uncreative chefs. I like to call falafel, hummus and baba ganoush “vegan 101”, since they are so simple to make and ubiquitous on the menus of practically every vegetarian restaurant in the city I live in. Despite that, none of those restaurants make it better than this homemade vegan falafel recipe. It’s seriously the best falafel I’ve ever had, no joke. This trick is to plan ahead and use dried chickpeas soaked overnight. That’s what’s gonna give you the super crispy texture that’s light and not pasty on the inside.

I’m sure that one or many of you are going to ask me if you can substitute cooked/canned chickpeas for this recipe. The answer is no so don’t bother asking. Dried chickpeas are essential to the texture of this vegan falafel recipe. Yes, you can make falafel with canned chickpeas but please go find yourself another recipe for that!

Starting with dried chickpeas is an automatic improvement in flavour. Just like with making hummus, I've found that dried chickpeas have a cleaner, more straightforward chickpea flavour, while canned chickpeas can get a tinny, skunky taste to them. If you cook those dried chickpeas before making falafel, you run into the same issues you find with canned—they just don't bind.

The key to great falafel is to soak the dried chickpeas, but grind them while they're still completely raw. I start by soaking chickpeas overnight in water, carefully draining them, then putting them into the food processor along with a ton of herbs, some onions and garlic, some salt, and some dried spices. I pulse them until they turn into a coarse meal that just holds its shape.

There are many things I do not know, but I do know this: falafels are the highest and best use of chickpeas. Perhaps not the most commonly use – hard to beat a batch of creamy hummus whipped up in mere minutes using a can of chickpeas. But if you’re after the best use of chickpeas, falafels win every time. And if you’re a falafel fiend like me, you’re going to be blown away by how easy it is to make falafels at home!


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