Friday, March 6, 2015

Falafel – The Opposite of How These Will Make You Feel

Unlike most of America’s other favorite fast foods, falafel is rarely attempted at home, which is a shame, since it’s very simple to do, and even a relative novice like me can get some very decent results. One word of warning: you do need to know you’re going to have a craving for this a full day before you actually want to eat it.

Whipping up a batch of these after a late night at the bar is not going to work, since soaking the dry beans overnight is a crucial step. While you can use canned beans for this, word on the street is not to do it. Those are cooked, and apparently just aren’t as good.

As you’ll see, you don’t really need a deep fryer to do this, as they pan-fry quite nicely, but the model you see me using has some advantages. In addition to being less messy, a small fryer lets you achieve the precise temperature, which means your food crisps up perfectly, while absorbing virtually none of the fat. People have done studies, measuring the oil before-and-after frying, and when done properly, it’s remarkable how little oil is used.

No matter what method you use to cook yours, I think you’ll be surprised how close this is to your favorite falafel stand, assuming they used the exact ingredients and amounts I did, which may not be the case. So, be sure to taste and adjust until you get it just right. I really hope you get this try very soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 12 falafel balls:
1 cup dried garbanzo beans aka chickpeas
1/2 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 rounded tablespoon flour
2 tsp lemon juice
- Fry at 350°F for about 5 minutes or until browned and crispy

63 comments:

Manan Patel said...

Hi Chef, can we use canned chickpeas for this?

MDeStefano said...

What is your feeling on canned beans?

Azi said...

Hi Chef,
I see you went with an adaptation of the more modern Israli version. The Palestenian, or traditional versions, have no greens in them. Also, they are usually drier.
Btw, I almost never use flower, nor do I add baking soda nor lemon to activate it.
Regardless of these minor (or crucial if you're a purist) points, the real idea is to get the basics and then develop you're own recipe. This is a good step in the right direction. When you feel like experimenting I suggest trying it with a mixture of chickpeas and fava beans, and cilantro instead of half the parsly.
Enjoy!

Michael Diaz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fortuna said...

Ha! What a coincidence, I just made a bowl of mixture yesterday, before the feed popped in my reader. As you are my most trustworthy source, I made the necessary additions before frying them. Pired with some tahini sauce and a salad, they are a perfect lenten meal.

Chris said...

There is always garbonzo flour for extra flavor ;). Great video as always, thanks!!

Vicente said...

Thank you for making this video, chef John. I was very anxious to see your version of this wonderful dish.
Nonetheless, I have a few questions/conundrums in my mind. According to severeral so called traditional recipes I've found that they use the burghul kind of wheat instead of regular all-purpose flour. Having made them the two ways myself, I have come to the conclusion that the texture and the flavor (but mostly the texture) were way better with the former. So, is there any other reason, besides accessibility, to use plain flour instead of the burghul?
The other infpgredient that I thought you were going use to prepare the battter was some olive oil; though in I havent made falafels without it. I dont know for sure, but I think it adds some lightness and silkiness to the interior. Tell me what do you think.
Thats all chef. Sorry if I sound arrogant or as to appear knowledgeable. These are just genuine doubts, or, who knows, something that ends up being a tiny retribution to all the things I have learned from you.

The very best wishes to you,
Vicente

Sharon Ho said...

What's the dip featured in the video?

Angela said...

I didn't realize these were so easy to make. Can you use canned beans?

Connie Go said...

Hi Chef John! Can I use canned garbanzo beans for this?

Connie Go said...

Hi Chef John! Can I used canned garbanzo beans for this?

Yardog59 said...

I'm willing to try making this, if only to see if the Falafel Pita I had last month was their fault. I'm one of those people that likes pretty much everything set in front of me and I like trying new things (I had never had it before), but I thought it was pretty bad.

Chef John said...

People asking about canned beans, also know as people who didn't read the post, please see 2nd paragraph.

Chef John said...

The sauce you saw was tahini sauce, it was our previous video.

Muhannad Rifaat said...

hi Chief, great video as always, you should try amba sauce instead of tahini with it, that's the way we eat it back home

fluffy said...

I've had really good luck with broiling falafels, personally. Just flatten them out and spray with cooking spray, and broil for a few minutes on each side. Works just as well as pan-frying, and less cleanup afterwards. :)

Scott Barber said...

A pun a day keeps the appetite in play.

Bear said...

This looks amazing! I, apparently, have never had good falafel as I've always found them to be dry and tasteless, and pretty much awful (no pun intended). As a lover of chick peas, I must try this out for myself.

Blue Arc said...

Let's say you make a double batch of the mix and you cook half. Do you think the remainder would keep in the fridge for 2 or 3 days to fry some up later? Or would it mess up the texture and or recipe. I live alone in the man cave and some days it's late when I get home from work. It would be great to get home and fry some up and sit down and fantasize about me and J Lo as I watch American Idol.

Jef Willemsen said...

"Falafel"...feel-aw-ful! Man, that might have been your best, subtle word pun yet, Chef John. Congrats!

Chef John said...

I've kept for a full day and it was fine, but not sure how much longer than that it will last.

PeterF said...

Hey Chef John, how much flour do you think this recipe can take before it turns into a fala fail? Thanks!

Azi said...

Canned bean == cooked beans. You can't grind them to a meal, they will always turn o a paste - even in a grinder (which is better for falafel than a food processor)'
You can make humus from canned beans, but nit falafel.

Chef John said...

Sorry, but I'm not sure, since I've never added more than the spoonful you see in the clip. Why? Are you trying to work more white flour into your diet? ;)

Mark said...

Another great recipe, Chef John. I must give this a try.

I'm not sure where I'm supposed to request this but I have a food wish for you. Here in Ireland Wheaten bread is eaten - I'm not sure whether this is also possibly a Scottish/English thing. Maybe it's American too! But could you do something on either making Wheaten bread or combining it with something.

I think I've had it toasted with cream cheese and smoked salmon. But I can't remember.

Thanks,
Mark

Jeremy said...

What kind of oil should I use in my deep fryer for these?

Thank you sir.

rancholyn said...

I don't own a sorbet scooper...what else do you suggest for perfect size?

Leamark Bishop said...

I have done a ton of your recipes and always recommend your wedsite to people who tell me they don't really know how to cook and would like to learn. Made these falafels last night and was really pleased. I made your tahini sauce as well and even used homemade pita bread from the Artisan Bread In Five cookbook. I was so happy with how simple everything came together. Keep up the great work, you really are fun to watch and learn from.

Leamark Bishop said...

I have done a ton of your recipes and always recommend your wedsite to people who tell me they don't really know how to cook and would like to learn. Made these falafels last night and was really pleased. I made your tahini sauce as well and even used homemade pita bread from the Artisan Bread In Five cookbook. I was so happy with how simple everything came together. Keep up the great work, you really are fun to watch and learn from.

Jhex said...

Can you complete the Mediterranean trifecta and fulfill my foodwish with Tabbouleh?!?!?!

PS: I know you have posted your friend's version back in 2012 but I want the real Chef John's recipe!

Azi said...

@Jeremy - any vegetable oil will do.

@rancholyb - just make balks that are relatively uniform in size. Whwn I don't have my "authentic" falafel scooper (which is impossible to get in the US) I use a regular tablespoon to both measure and shape. Just dip it in cold water After each ball.

Ema said...

What type of oil did you use to pan fry them? Thanks!! Can't wait to try!

Chef John said...

I used canola oil, but peanut, or other neutral-flavored, high-temp oil is fine!

Chef John said...

Yes, what Azi said! ;)

Ginny said...

Would this hold up in a waffle iron? I make a non-fried falafel waffle with store bought mix and a little extra water added. Holds the hummus better, 1/4 fits perfectly in a pita, and falafel waffle is fun to say. But I've failed before with a bad mix, and that falafel waffle was awful!

Ginny said...

Would this hold up in a waffle iron? I make a non-fried falafel waffle with store bought mix and a little extra water added. Holds the hummus better, 1/4 fits perfectly in a pita, and falafel waffle is fun to say. But I've failed before with a bad mix, and that falafel waffle was awful!

Chef John said...

Sorry, but I have to admit I don't even own a waffle iron! I imagine it work work though since it panfried quite well. Give it a try!

Azi said...

I must admit a falafel waffle is such an intriguing idea (especially when considering the crisp to sauce ratio) that it might be the idea that will make me buy an iron.

ספירו גהשאן said...

Hi chef
I recomend to add a fresh coriander
it will upgrade the flafel.
Flafel is an oriental arab food, it happens to be i'm one of them and also one of your fans.
God bless you

ScienceSusan said...

Last time I made this I used dried 'banzos, but I used to use canned. They tasted fine with canned, but always fell apart. Better with dried.

Jerome said...

Thanks !
I have never dared to make these, this is the occasion ! I probably would add fresh cilantro...

Jo Cassesi said...

Hi Chef John! Just tried your falafel recipe and, although I've been making falafel for many years, this is by far the best recipe yet.

But why am I surprised? Every one of your recipes that I've tried has come out perfect on the first attempt. Your videos make your recipes almost foolproof.

Whenever I'm looking for a specific recipe I always search your blog first because I know if I use you've made it, it will come out delicious and without any problems.

Your humor is great and some of my friends who don't even cook enjoy watching your videos. A few have even been inspired to attempt your recipes with great success. You take the intimidation out of cooking, even to the novice.

Love you, keep up the great work!

Chef John said...

Thank you!!

Simon Holmberg said...

Mine ended up disintegrating while frying, possibly because I didn't use enough flour or threw them all in at once and lowered the temperature enough to end up cooking them instead. The cleanup was still delicious, though!

Gail Chang said...

Chef John, thanks for this. I have really tried to incorporate some meatless dinners. My boys (14,12,10) were watching your video with me. Watching it made them say, "I want to eat that." And I made it, and they ate it.

Holly Kujawski said...

I don't have a food processor. Guess now is the right time to buy. What size do you have, Chef John?

jerri handy said...

For those of you asking for canned beans alterations, I made them both ways. Canned chickpeas have so much liquid in them! So if you follow the recipe exactly you end up with mush that is crispy on the outside. I added more flour which gave you a denser gummy falafel. To counter the more flour added in I put just a tad bit of baking powder to get a more bread like consistency. Just don't go overboard. I say if you want to do a bit more work go with canned chickpeas. When I followed the recipe exactly from chef John it turned out ok. Just remember the recipe said a rounded tbl of flour.

Zatoichi444 said...

Can this recipe be adapted to make a Samurai sword?

Matthias Hoffmann said...

Hi Chef John!
I'm a big fan of both your amazing channel AND puns AND falafel.
Needless to say, I loved your recipe, although there is a problem I need to solve first:
I first need some kind of food processor!
What kind of model/manufacturer is the one you use??

OMW2OWN said...

For fluffier even more othentic Falafel...
No lemon juice and no flour.
for the perfect consistancy, instead of a food prosessesor use a meat grinder.
If food prosessor is your choice nince the garlic seperatly and add it to the falafel mixture only after you are done usung the food prosessor and mix by hand... reason is, the heat from the engin will dull the garlic flavour and will reduce the overall falafel flavour.
as for the parsly... its more othentic using cilantro or half cilatro and half parsly. If you dont like cilantro parsly is definitly an option.
Last but not least, instead of cayenne peper use fresh jalapeno.

For those who are asking if you can fry some now and some later... The answer is a big fat yes!!
When I make falafel, I make a nice big batch of the mix and devide it in to portions, zip lock them and off to the freezer they go. When ever Im craving falafel I defrost one of my portion bags in the fridge over night and fry them beautifull falafel as described. Tada!

I love this site! I only discovered it 2 days ago and already made the best baguettes I have ever ate in north america.
I love cooking and on top of my hungarian/romanian/marocan/israeli heritage in the kitchen I am a food curious that is always learning and experimenting.
My absolute favorite thing about this site is that you John are flowing so naturally and that means at times making mistakes or not comming up with what you thoght the dish would be like and that for you is just the nature of things. So true. So simple. So authentic. Love it!! its part of the jurney others hide making people think they are sopose to have it perfect every time and if they dont its becouse they are not good at cooking or some other versions of that thoght. I love your vegiterian esquargo experiment and I will totaly make it with the mushrooms made a different way ofcorse :) The idea itself inspired me.

Boapetite to you and all
Cheers
Edith.

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Greetings Chef! I gots' me a small problem. My fawful mixture that I've had chillin' in the fridge since yesterday seems to be a bit too crumbly. Crumbly in the sense that it won't hold its shape as either a ball or patty. My finicky-lady friend suggested that I mix in an egg as a binder. Any suggestions on your end?? Thanks! You be da' best!

Chef John said...

Yes an egg may bind it, but would change the texture little bit and make it denser, I think. Sounds like your garbanzo mixture needed a little more moisture, or grinding a little finer. You could put it back in the machine and pulse a few times with little bit of water to see if it gets stickier. good luck! thanks!

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Greetings again Chef,

Pulsing my garbanzo mixture and adding a little water as suggested did indeed work. I made the cutest little falafel patties and even better yet they all held their shape. Unfortunately my frying technique needs a little work. Evidently my oil wasn't hot enough and the patties too cold when they went into the frying pan. Needless to say, I made a mess and even worse yet, my finicky lady-friend is still giving me grief. I'm so purse-whipped. **sigh** Thanks anyways.

Allyza Tejada said...

Hi chef, I'm a student going to cook this for our class. I'm not really good at cooking but can you tell me how many cups of oil did you use or any measurement of oil did you use. I'm sorry if it's a bit stupid. But I really don't know how to cook, but we have an activity where 5 groups will cook. That's why I really need to know.

Allyza Tejada said...

Hi chef, I'm a middle schooler. And My group was tasked to cook this. It really looked very simple! But can I ask you a question? How many cups of oil did you use? Sorry for asking such a stupid question, but Ireally don't know how to cook 😅

Chef John said...

My fryer uses about 1 quart of oil. I hope that helps! Good luck and enjoy!

beemo said...

I just made these and I'm afraid I was so impatient to try them I used a can of chickpeas that we had kicking around... results not fantastic, also not ideal solidity to hold shape, but this recipe and techniques are really quite advanced for me. In the end the result was still very nice to eat, with your tahini dip (which I made earlier, with the correct amount of garlic, it is very good)

The best part is that I got a little experience of pan-frying and using a food processor, and certainly learned a thing or two. Plus it was good to finally use that can of chick peas. Next time will be much better of course.

(P.S. sooner or later I'm going to make my own ghee -- Indian-style clarified saltless butter -- which supposedly is excellent for frying as it has a very high flash point. I will fry a few things in a little ghee and report if interesting)

beemo said...

Dear Chef John:

As I posted very recently, I tried your Falafel, with unadvised canned chickpeas, and the result was certainly tasty; but after the frying in so much oil and all, I eventually concluded it was somewhat, je ne sais pas, un peu trop, comment c'est ineffable, mais trop c'est trop, point. For me in any case.

Later, after a few beers (Beck's) I found myself thinking about the falafel mix in the fridge, and I suddenly had a vision: FRENCH TOAST

I thereupon Innovated, Experimented, and Invented.

I pulled out a slice of Jim Lahey/Mark Bittman no-knead bread--which I'm a whiz at making now and always have around--and:

-- vegetable oil
-- your tahini dip (made earlier today, turned out excellently)
-- cream
-- the uncooked falafel.

I heated a non-stick pan with a little vegetable oil, spread some falafel dip on both sides of a slice of bread, and fried up the slice like french toast. (Initially I only intended to have one such slice, so I used only the vegetable oil; but the result was so satisfying I got another slice coated and experimented by frying one side with olive oil and the other with butter.)

When it was cooked and ready, I spread some tahini dip on one side of the slice and drizzled on about a teaspoon of cream.

Result: After several Beck's I couldn't really tell the difference between the oil or butter fried sides, and maybe I'm flatly incapable of doing so, but certainly it was a completely satisfying late night after-drink snack. I went very easy on the oil or butter, and the combination of the robust falafel/tahini combo with the nice familiar homely bread struck me as just right.

Note: I used a fork and a steak knife to cut this with, as the no-knead bread is sheathed in full plate armor. I keep forgetting to rub each loaf with butter as it comes out of the oven (trick from my late french-canadian grandmother who was born in 1900)

beemo said...

Update on my previous post about french toast falafel:

When I came up with that, I was a bit in my cups, as I suggested; so this may have turned out to be a case of "10 by night, 2 by light." However, Herodotus relates that the ancient Persians used to make important decisions in a two-stage process; they would discuss matters once when they were drunk, and again the next day when they were sober -- or vice-versa. I read that many years ago, and have emulated that wisdom ever since.

Accordingly, I tried my little falafel invention again in the cold harsh light of the morning after, and it was still good. Now it's late at night and I've had a few glasses of wine on an empty stomach, and I tried the invention yet again. This time I find it reaches perfection (as opposed to mere outstandingness) with the addition of a little more salt and a few drops of Tabasco sauce. I'm on my way back to the kitchen to make another round.

Yours,
Beemo

P.S. Chef John, you are the Vahchef of America

Libsmum said...

do I not need to boil the chick peas after soaking ? they are rock hard ?!
thank you

Sayed Mohamd said...

Chef i need ur help pls, i followed the recipe step by step, but unfortunately once i put the flafel to fry it started to broke down!!

John Christ said...

Made these a few days ago...

My wife and daughter loved them (as did I).

I soaked the chick peas closer to 24 hours (not claiming that had any effect), added some minced fresh cilantro to the parsley, and skipped the flour.

Absolutely terrific! Thanks so much.

Deborah Freeman said...

I made Falafal and I feel great! I threw about a 1/4 c of dried chickpeas in my Vitamx and made my own chickpea flour too! Yummy! 😋