Falafel are little rissoles made of chickpeas – you can make them as spicy as you like by adding more chilli. They are a staple recipe in the middle east where they are made with dried fava beans, often mixed with chickpeas – people say the Lebanese make the best falafel but Claudia Roden says that honour belongs to the Egyptians. This version is not absolutely authentic because it is made with cooked chickpeas but it’s quicker.
400g tin cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped very finely
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon chilli powder
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 mint or coriander sprigs, leaves only, chopped finely
Pinch of salt and a few grindings of black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Mix everything, except the olive oil, in a food processor until blended. Heat the olive oil and fry a small ball of the mixture. Check it for flavour and seasoning and adjust if required. Form the rest of the mixture into balls, place on a baking sheet and flatten with wet fingertips. Either fry or bake in the oven (see below).
To fry the falafel
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the falafel for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until cooked and golden. Keep warm in the oven.
To oven-bake the falafel
Place the falafel on a baking sheet and flatten with wet fingertips. Brush each with a little olive oil and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through and golden.
Serve with hummous or our falafel sauce with tahini below.
Recipe for falafel sauce with tahini
Mix a spoon or two of tahini with a few spoons of natural yogurt – enough to loosen the sauce. Add a sprinkling of toasted cumin seeds.
Gluten-free falafel recipe mix
To make this a gluten-free falafel recipe, omit the flour, baking soda and baking powder. The recipe will not be as light and you may need to oven-bake them as they will be softer in texture. You can replace the ordinary plain flour with gluten free flour.
Can I freeze falafel?
Yes! You can freeze the uncooked falafel in freezer bags and thaw before frying or oven-baking.
To make a falafel burger
To make a falafel burger, form the falafel mixture into a round flat patty and fry on both sides in olive oil – it will take 8-10 minutes to cook through. Serve between a bun with falafel sauce (see above), rocket and coleslaw.