How to make an Authentic falafel recipe that tastes precisely like the falafel served in popular Middle Eastern restaurants and serve it with fantastic tahini sauce. Enjoy a crispy middle eastern appetizer that’s tender from the inside and learn all the tips and tricks to make it a success from the first time, plus how to store it for a longer time. The falafel recipe video tutorial is below!
What is falafel?
Falafel is a Middle Eastern appetizer or snack. They are made from chickpeas, but in Egypt, they make falafel by mixing chickpeas with fava beans and call it (Tameiah). You soak the legumes in water for 12 hours or a little more and then grind it in a food processer, then mix it with spices and other ingredients.
Balls are formed from the mixture, fried until brown and crispy from the outside, and tender from the inside. The falafel is mostly served in pita bread with tahini sauce, pickles, and tomatoes.
When I was a kid, I used to buy a falafel sandwich from the school canteen often. You can see most kids with a falafel sandwich in one hand and a soft drink in the other.
Ingredients you need to make authentic falafel recipe
I have to mention that there are two versions of falafel, a homemade falafel with green vegetables and the authentic falafel recipe that I’m sharing in this post. If you want to try the other version, which is delicious too, then don’t miss my Fiery Falafel Recipe.
I’m not adding flour to this recipe, so it is gluten-free!
Dried chickpeas – You can easily find dried chickpeas online if not available in the store near you. We are going to soak the chickpeas for hours to help them triple in size. You can’t use cooked or canned chickpeas to make falafel. If you use canned chickpeas, the inside will be soggy, and you will have to add flour, which will change the texture and flavor of the falafel. Stick with dried chickpeas if you want to have a delicious and fluffy and authentic falafel.
Garlic and onion – Many recipes call for a lot of onion and garlic, but the authentic falafel recipe has a small amount of both. The flavor of well-seasoned and fried chickpeas should be noticeable. The onion and garlic are present only to enhance the flavor. I always use red onion in my cooking, I use yellow in salads and sandwiches only, but you can use the onion you have at home. If all you have is green onion, then use the head (the white part) for this recipe.
Spices – I have used three spices, coriander, cumin, and black pepper. In the authentic recipe, these are the only spices you’ll need. Adding more from these spices or introducing other spices to this recipe will remove falafel's original, delicious flavor. Make sure that your dry spices are stored well; otherwise, it loses taste.
Baking powder – In some recipes, both baking powder and baking soda make the falafel fluffy and light from the inside. However, I found that adding baking soda can make the falafel look darker from the outside, and it gives a hint of bitterness to the falafel. I only use baking powder, and you can omit it if you wish.
Sesame seeds – It is optional to use sesame seeds. Some like to garnish the falafel with it, but you can omit it.
How to cook Authentic falafel recipe from scratch
Before going ahead with the steps, I would like to assure you that making falafel is easy, and there is no need to worry about messing up the recipe. The other important thing you need is a good food processor. I use a small food processor since I’m making a small quantity, but if you are making falafel for a party or want to store some for later, I recommend Hamilton Beach food processor. It has a bowl scraper attached, it is fas in grinding and chopping, and it’s a heavy-duty food processor with a reasonable price.
- Soak the chickpeas for 12 to 13 hours. Wash the chickpeas and then pour enough warm water to cover them by three inches. The chickpeas will take time to triple in size, so it’s better to soak them at night at room temperature to prepare fresh falafel in the morning. After 12 hours, drain the chickpeas and rewash them before the next step.
- In the food processor, add the soaked chickpeas, garlic, and onion. Pulse first a few times and then process the mixtures until you get tiny wet grains. The texture will remind you of wet beach sand but much smoother.
- In a mixing bowl, add the chickpeas mixture, spices, baking powder, and salt. Keep mixing with your hand for 4 minutes adding around ¼ cup warm water. After you are done mixing and kneading, cover the mixture and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Please do not keep the mixture for more than 20 minutes in the fridge, or the falafel will turn dark when frying, and that’s the reaction of the baking powder. Chilling is important because chickpeas need time to absorb the flavor from the spices, so do not skip this step!
- Use an ice cream scoop to get an even-shaped falafel, take one scoop from the mixture, form a ball, and press it down a little in the middle to have thick patty. The mixture will look crumbly, but no worries, it will hold the shape. You can use a non-stick falafel scoopwhich is going to be faster. Place the balls on parchment paper, or you can start adding the falafel in the hot oil as soon as you finish shaping each.
- Frying the falafel won’t take more than 4 minutes on medium heat. You can shallow fry the falafel, but that might take a longer time to cook, which can lead to drying it from the inside. If you want to use less oil, use a smaller pan and fry the falafel in batches. It’s best to eat the falafel while warm.
Ingredients you need to make the tahini sauce
Yogurt – Plain regular yogurt is best for this recipe. You can use Greek yogurt, but you have to add more water than what’s mentioned in the recipe card below.
Tahini paste – Buy the best brand if possible and make sure to store the tahini in a cool place after opening the jar. Always shake the tahini jar before using it, especially if it is stored in the fridge.
How to make the tahini sauce
There is nothing faster and easier than making tahini sauce. In a bowl, add all the ingredients and mix until smooth. But there are two things that you need to keep in mind. The tahini is a little bitter, and the yogurt is sour, so careful when you add the salt because more than a pinch will make the sauce salty.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I bake the falafel?
You can. The falafel won’t come out as crunchy, but they will have great flavor. To bake the falafel, preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the formed falafel balls on the baking sheet. Spray with cooking oil and bake until brown. Baking can take up to 30 minutes, and make sure to flip the falafel after 15 minutes of baking.
Will it taste as good in an air fryer?
Many said they prefer the air-fried falafel over the oil-fried one, but everyone is different. To make the falafel in an air fryer, set the temperature to 200C/390F and cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Don’t forget to shake the pan after 10 minutes.
How to freeze the falafel mixture?
After blending the chickpeas with onion and garlic, place the mixture in a Ziplock bag and freeze for up to six months. To thaw, place it overnight in the fridge and then use it as per the recipe. Do not freeze after adding the spices and baking powder. The flavor will come out different, and the falafel will turn dark when frying.
Can I use canned chickpeas to make falafel?
I wish, life would have been easier! Unfortunately, you can not use canned chickpeas. It won’t hold well while frying, and the texture will be more like a paste.
How to serve the authentic falafel
- Make a sandwich using pita bread, pickled cucumber, tahini sauce, and fresh veggies like tomatoes and cucumber.
- Dip in Tazatziki or tahini sauce.
- Make a Middle Eastern platter by placing the falafel in the middle and around it; add different types of sauce, or Hummus, fresh vegetables cut into medium size, olives, French fries, and pita bread.
Tips to make amazing falafel Recipe
- Always use dried chickpeas. When buying dry chickpeas, make sure it is not aged. Aged chickpeas look much smaller in size and much lighter in color.
- Make sure the baking powder is not expired, or it will add a weird taste.
- To help the chickpeas triple in size faster, add boiling water, cover it, and let it soak overnight or 12 hours, especially if your kitchen is cold.
- When forming the balls, keep your hands light and do not press the balls hard, or the falafel won’t come out fluffy from inside.
- You might have the urge to fry it longer, but please do not do so; it will make it dry. You can fry one falafel for 4 to 5 minutes and then determine if it needs more frying.
- The best way to store the falafel is by freezing it. You can freeze the mixture after processing it in the food processor and before adding spices to it. Place it in a Ziplock bag making sure to take out as much air as possible and freeze it for up to six months.
How to Make Authentic Falafel with Tahini Sauce
FOR THE FALAFEL
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 1 small onion cut in half
- 2 large cloves of garlic or 4 medium-size garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ¼ cup warm water
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
FOR THE TAHINI SAUCE
- ½ cup tahini paste
- 6 tablespoon plain yogurt
- 1 ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup water
- Pinch of salt
MAKING THE FALAFEL
- Rinse the dried chickpeas three times. Place it in a large bowl and cover it with water. Make sure the water is above the chickpeas by at least three inches. Cover, and let it soak overnight or for 12 to 13 hours to triple in size. Drain it well and keep it aside.
- Add half the chickpeas to a food processor with the onion and garlic. Pulse the mixture and scrape down the sides until you get tiny wet grains similar to wet beach sand but smoother. Add the other half and pulse. In a bowl, mix both halves well, now you should hold the mixture in your hand and easily shape a ball.
- Add the spices, salt, water, and baking powder to the mixture. Knead and mix for four to five minutes. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for 20 minutes. If you want to make the falafel the next day or after a few hours, do not add the baking powder and spices and leave the mixture covered in the fridge.
- Use an ice cream scoop or a falafel scoop to scoop out from the mixture, and you can also use a tablespoon. When using a tablespoon, take out 1 and ½ tablespoon from the mixture, form it with a light hand into a ball, or you can flatten the ball a little and turn it into a patty as I did in the video. Make many balls and place them on parchment paper.
- If you want to add sesame seed to the falafel, sprinkle some on top of the ball and press down gently before frying.
- In a frying pan, add enough oil to cover the balls. It’s best to use a small frying pan and fry the balls in batches.
- Place the falafel balls gently in the hot oil. Do not move them for a minute to prevent them from breaking. When brown from the bottom, carefully flip the falafel and brown the other side. The frying time should take 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the falafel. Do not crowd the pan.
- Remove the falafel from the oil and place it over a kitchen towel to absorb the extra oil. Serve immediately.
MAKING THE TAHINI SAUCE
- In a bowl, mix all the ingredients until well combined and smooth.
- Pour a small amount over the falafel before serving, or serve in a bowl beside the falafel.
- Tips to make amazing falafel in the post above.
- Please watch the video to learn more.
- Always use dried chickpeas.
- You can shallow fry the falafel, but it might come out oily.
- How to bake the falafel and make them in an air fryer mentioned in the post.
- This recipe makes around 16 falafel.