Lucy’s Famous Falafel (Lebanese Falafel)
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time15 mins
Ready In1 hr 15 mins
I think it is safe to say that Falafel is the most popular Arab (Middle-Eastern) food out there. It is vegan, healthy, delicious and loaded with protein and nutrients.
Where Falafel originated depends on who you ask. It is very controversial; Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians will insist it is a Levantine dish and originated in that region while, the Egyptians will say it was eaten by pharaoh’s in Egypt a thousand years ago. Then there’s the Israeli’s, who have made Falafel their National dish! It is said that Falafel was a very popular dish among the Yemeni Jews who brought it to Israel.
Every region in that area will claim it as their own and truth is they all have unique and delicious variations on it. Regardless of where it originated, Falafel is iconic, and for a reason. It is vegan, healthy, delicious and loaded with protein and nutrients. It has become such a popular street food worldwide and can be found on food trucks, and at restaurants and grocery stores in every city.
What makes Lebanese Falafel different?
The recipe I am sharing with you today is a Lebanese Falafel. It is my mother-in-law’s recipe and honestly the best falafel I have every eaten. When recreating the recipe for the purpose of posting it on here, I didn’t even attempt to make it by myself, but had her make alongside me, measuring and taking lots of notes, so I could write it out for you guys.
While my mother-in-law Lucy is not a professional chef, she does have years of experience having worked at a Middle-eastern restaurant. At the time, she had introduced her own falafel recipe (among many other of her traditional recipes) to the restaurant, which the customers absolutely loved and became successful.
Chickpeas or Fava beans? Or both?
The main ingredients in falafel are either chickpeas, fava beans or a combination of both! Chickpeas is predominately used as the main ingredients throughout the middle-east; for example, in many traditional Palestinian recipes. However, in Lebanon, most often a combination of both fava beans and chickpeas is used in a classic falafel recipe.
Neither the fava beans or chickpeas are cooked prior to making the falafel. Dry beans MUST be used, and soaked overnight until tender. Canned chickpeas come pre-cooked and therefore are too soft and will fall apart. Soaked beans are tender enough to work with but not enough to crumble when handling.
Falafel is filled with other important fresh ingredients as well. Fresh cilantro, parsley, onions and garlic are added to the chickpeas and fava beans. The falafel ingredients are processed together in a food processor or in a meat grinder. Then, a bunch of fragrant spices like coriander and cumin are added and mixed together before being formed into balls. Lucy adds so many wonderful spices that you don’t find in other falafel recipes which really takes her recipe over the top, making it wonderfully delicious.
There is a special metal scoop specifically made for falafel, that will give you a perfectly sized ball every time. However, if you are unable to get your hands on one, you can use an ice cream scooper or your hands if you prefer.
Measure out all the spices and set aside so they are ready to add in as needed.
Add the chickpeas to the food processor and pulse until crumbly and no more large pieces remain. Return to the bowl. Do the same with the fava beans and return to the bowl.
Wash the bunches of cilantro and parsley and trim off the stems.
Add to the food processor and process until small but not mushy.
Peel the onions and cut into quarters. Pulse in the food processor until no large pieces remain.
Peel and separate all the garlic and add to the food processor and pulse until small.
In a very large bowl, add all the finely processed ingredients and mix using your hands, until fully combined.
Add in all the spices and mix well.
Add the baking soda and baking powder just 10 minutes before frying.
Preheat a large skillet with canola oil until 350-370F degrees.
In a large paper towel-lined plate, remove the falafel onto the plate.
Prepare your falafel sandwiches or eat on a platter.
How to eat Falafel
The traditional way of cooking falafel is deep frying it in a neutral oil such as canola. However, if you are trying to be more health-conscious, you can bake the falafel for about 20 minutes on 350.
Falafel has become known as a street food because, it is typically served on pita bread with fresh vegetables (such as sliced tomatoes, pickles and pickled turnips) and tarator (tahini sauce). The tarator is the same tarator made for beef shawarma and it vital in this falafel recipe. The patties are naturally somewhat dry from the chickpeas and fava beans and require a sauce to really help bring the flavor out. Traditionally, Falafel is eaten as a “mezze,” appetizer. You can serve the falafel on a salad if you’d like or, even in a platter with rice and veggies.
This recipe is very freezer friendly. The quantity for this recipe makes about 72 falafel balls so, feeds about 24 people.
Lucy’s Freezer Tips
1. Do not add the baking soda and baking powder to the mix if you plan on freezing it. Add it after it has been defrosted and about 10 minutes before you fry it.
2. You can add the spices before freezing or after defrosting, whichever you prefer.
3. Freeze in separate airtight bags and remove from the freezer at least 4 hours before frying them.
Falafel (Lucy’s Famous Falafel)
- 2 lb. Dried Chickpeas
- 1 lb. Dried Fava beans
- 1 bunch Parsley
- 1 bunch Cilantro
- 5 heads Garlic
- 2 med. White Onions or Yellow
- 2.5 tb. Cumin
- 2 tb. Coriander
- 2 tsp. Black Pepper
- 1 tb. Cinnamon
- 1 tsp. Chili powder
- 4 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Baking Soda
- 4 tsp. Baking Powder
- Canola Oil for frying or any neutral oil such as vegetable or grape seed.
- Soak the dried chickpeas and dried fava beans in water in 2 separate large bowls overnight. Rinse thoroughly 12 hours (or so) later and set aside.
- Add the chickpeas to the food processer and pulse until crumbly and no more large pieces remain. Return to the bowl. Do the same with the fava beans and return to the bowl.
- Wash the bunches of cilantro and parsley and trim off the stems. Add to the food processor and process until small but not mushy.
- Peel the onions and cut into quarters. Pulse in the food processor until no large pieces remain.
- Peel and separate all the garlic and add to the food processor and pulse until small.
- Measure out all the spices and set aside so they are ready to add in as needed.
- In a very large bowl, add all the finely processed ingredients and mix using your hands, until fully combined.
- Add in all the spices and mix well. *If you are making only half or ¼of this recipe, you can process the cilantro, parsley, onions and garlic all together since they will easily fit into the food processor. I processed it separately since, they will not fit. *If you plan on freezing some of this mix, separate into airtight baggies and freeze now.
- Add the baking soda and baking powder just 10 minutes before frying. Preheat a large skillet with canola oil until 350-370F degrees.
- Using the falafel scooper (or tablespoon), form a ball (about 2 tb. large if using a spoon), and carefully drop the balls into the oil. Fry for about 3-4 minutes per side, until brown. *Do not overcrowd the pan, fry about 4-5 at once.
- In a large paper towel-lined plate, remove the falafel onto the plate.
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