If you’ve ever eaten at a Middle Eastern restaurant before, you’ve likely either tried falafel or seen it on the menu. This vegetarian-friendly dish is sold on every street corner in countries like Egypt and Israel and is delightfully delicious. It’s also simple to make and enjoy right at home with my homemade, naturally vegan falafel recipe.
What Is Falafel?
Like most things concerning the Middle East, the origins of falafel are slightly controversial depending who you ask. However, it’s generally believed to have originated in Egypt, where it’s prepared with fava beans, via Christan Copts. From there, it spread throughout the Arab world and later into Israel. Interestingly, everywhere else replaces the original fava beans with nutrition-rich chickpeas.
No matter where in the Middle East you are, you’re guaranteed to be standing a stone’s throw away from a falafel stand. In fact, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Israel have all named falafel as their national dish.
Though it took a while for falafel to hit the U.S., you can now find these addicting little snacks at Middle Eastern restaurants and salad bars throughout the country — and now, with my falafel recipe, in your kitchen.
How to Make Falafel
You’ll be surprised at how simple homemade falafel is to make. We use a combination of chickpeas and black-eyed peas to get the at-home texture just right. Both of these beans, but in particular chickpeas, are loaded with protein and fiber, so even though falafel is meat-free, you’re sure to feel full!
Then, we’ll add in fresh parsley and a heap of seasonings. Don’t be deterred by the list — you likely have them all in your pantry, and the combination of cardamom, cumin, cayenne and cilantro are going to give your falafel recipe a ton of flavor.
Finally, we’ll fry these up with avocado oil. Refined avocado oil is a great option for cooking at high heat, as it can withstand temperatures up to 400 F. It also helps your body better absorb nutrients and improves cardiovascular health.
What Goes Best with Falafel?
So what should you serve falafel with? It goes well with nearly everything! In the Middle East, it’s usually stuffed in a pita and served with hummus. Grab a gluten-free pita and whip up this Tzatziki Sauce to spread on it.
If you want to get a little funky, Paleo ranch dressing tastes fantastic with it, too. It also goes really well served with a salad like this Cauliflower Tabbouleh Salad, which is from the same region, or even chopped up and added right to a salad, like this Cucumber Tomato Salad.
Of course, you don’t need to serve it with anything at all — falafel is tasty enough to eat solo! Let’s get cooking.
Start by adding in all the ingredients except the avocado oil and sesame seeds to a food processor. Blend on high until it’s well combined, adding more Paleo flour if needed.
Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for an hour.
In a large frying pan over medium to medium-high heat, add the avocado oil. While it heats up, use a tablespoon to scoop out the falafel “dough” and form it into small discs.
Fry for 4 minutes, flip and cook for an additional 4 minutes or until golden brown.
- ¾ cup chickpeas
- ¾ cup black-eyed peas
- ½ red onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
- 4 tablespoons cilantro
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1–3 tablespoons water
- 1½–2 tablespoons paleo flour
- 6–8 tablespoons avocado oil for frying
- Add all ingredients except the avocado oil in a food processor and blend on high until well combined, adding more paleo flour if needed.
- Allow mixture to sit in the fridge for one hour.
- In a large frying pan over medium to medium-high heat add the avocado oil.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop out falafel and form into disks.
- Fry for 4 minutes, flip and cook for an additional 4 minutes or until golden brown.
- Add to your favorite salad and drizzle our Hummus or Avocado Ranch Dressing on top.