I am a big fan of falafel, and every once in a while I get a craving for a good falafel sandwich, either from our local Lebanese hole-in-the-wall, or from the ever-thronged l’As du Fallafel on rue des Rosiers.
Seduced by the idea of an easy, ready-made dinner item, I have on occasion bought falafel from the organic store, in little plastic trays of fifteen, and they were quite tasty. But they cost a small fortune — a little over 4€ ($5.5) for fifteen two-bite falafel — for something so cheap to produce, so I got it in my head to make my own baked falafel instead.
A more rewarding kitchen venture you’ll seldom encounter: the baked falafel turned out crisp and flavorful, and when assembled into pita sandwiches, they made for a wonderful treat of a weeknight dinner.
I certainly don’t object to fried foods on principle, but I do avoid frying anything in my own (open) kitchen, as I balk at the inherent prospect of scrubbing the stove, and having my entire apartment smell of hot grease. So frying wasn’t an option, but baking in the oven was.
Making baked falafel
As it turns out, making falafel couldn’t be easier: you’ll soak dried chickpeas overnight, then grind them with some onion, garlic, spices, and parsley if you like. You’ll shape this crumbly mixture into balls or patties, and fry or bake, as prefered.
I was also delighted that this gave me the perfect opportunity to use the grinder attachment a friend gave me for my KitchenAid mixer a few years ago, and which had been sitting untouched in one of my kitchen cabinets since then. But if that’s not part of your kitchen arsenal, fret not: a mixer or blender will do just fine.
And a more rewarding kitchen venture you’ll seldom encounter: the baked falafel turned out crisp and flavorful, and when assembled into pita sandwiches with my simple tahini sauce and lots of crudités, they made for a wonderful treat of a weeknight dinner.
And for the cost-conscious among us, I got forty falafel balls out of this recipe, at an (all-organic) ingredient cost of roughly 2€ ($2.75), which makes them out to be about five times cheaper than the store-bought option. Check my homemade hummus recipe for more chickpea money-saving tips.
Join the conversation!
Are you a falafel aficionado too? Who makes your favorite? And do you fry things at home, or do you leave it to the pros to do the frying and related scrubbing?
- 400 grams (2 cups) dried chickpeas
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose or chickpea flour (use chickpea flour to make this gluten-free)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to grease the baking sheet
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped (optional)
- simple tahini sauce, for serving
- pita bread, for serving
- assorted crudités, such as grated carrots and chopped cabbage, for serving
- The day before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with fresh water by 5 cm (2 inches).
- The next day, rinse, drain well, and place in the bowl of a food processor or blender with the onion, garlic, flour, olive oil (see note), salt, and spices. Process in pulses, stirring regularly, until you get an even consistency. (If you have a meat grinder, that's even better: use the finest grinding plate to grind the chickpeas along with the onion and garlic, then mix in the flour, oil, salt, and spices by hand.) Fold in the parsley, if using. (Pictured below at right is my Danish dough whisk.)
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until the next day.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and oil a rimmed baking sheet.
- Shape the falafel mixture into balls the size of a large walnut, and place them on the sheet.
- Insert into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping the falafel halfway through, until golden.
- Serve with tahini sauce, crudités, and pita bread, assembling sandwiches if you like.
- Once baked and cooled, the falafel can be frozen. After thawing, you can reheat them in the oven or in the skillet.
- If you prefer to fry the falafel, omit the olive oil from the mixture.