What are falafels

Falafel Poke Bowl

Falafels are deep-fried balls traditionally found in Middle Eastern cuisine. They are mostly made from chickpeas, fava beans or a combination of the two. Most recipes contain a range of herbs, spices and other ingredients, such as onion, parsley, coriander, garlic purée, cumin, black pepper, flour and vegetable oil.

A textbook falafel is hot and crunchy on the outside and fluffy and herby on the inside. Getting hungry just thinking about them, right? Us too!

Traditionally falafels are served inside a pita, wrap or flatbread or as part of a mezze platter. Today they’re a super popular addition to a wide range of amazing dishes that suit veggies, vegans and flexitarians alike!

Nutritional Value

If you’re wondering whether these delicious fried balls of flavour are good for you, let us break it down.

Chickpeas are naturally rich in proteins and soluble fibres and are a complex carbohydrate. There are a number of health benefits associated with high-fibre foods – they help lower blood lipid levels such as cholesterol, reducing risks of heart diseases, as well as lowering your risk of colon cancer. Falafels are also packed with a number of key nutrients, including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, Vitamin C, Vitamin B and folate.

When falafels are fried (as in the traditional cooking method) they will have a higher fat content, but if you’re making them at home you can reduce this by choosing to bake them instead.

The Origins of Falafel

The exact origin of the falafel is unknown and open to debate. One theory is the dish was invented in Egypt using fava beans, with the recipe then exported to other areas across the Middle East.

It is thought the dish later found its way north towards the Eastern Mediterranean, where chickpeas were used instead of the original fava beans.

The use of chickpeas is still prominent in most Middle Eastern countries today – it’s this version that is also most popular in the UK, (all our falafel products are made using chickpeas – in case you were wondering). In Egpyt, falafels mostly still use fava beans as the core ingredient.

Preparing & Cooking Falafel

When making falafel the traditional way, the first step is to soak the chickpeas overnight.

Sometimes they are soaked with baking soda to raise the pH levels of the chickpeas and help them to cook through. This helps to give them the classic light and fluffy texture we all know and love.

The soaked chickpeas are then ground together with other ingredients like parsley, spring onions, garlic, cumin and coriander (to name just a few).

The mixture is then shaped into balls or patties. This can be done by hand or with a tool called an aleb falafel – which is a mould for shaping into balls. The mixture is usually deep-fried, but it can be oven-baked.

Typically, falafel is ball-shaped, but it is also commonly made in a doughnut shape as well (It’s true! And yes, we want to try it immediately as well).

There are loads of ways of serving falafels, from mezze platters to wraps to falafel burgers and salads and all sorts!

Taameya

Even though these protein-packed chickpea fritters are listed as one of Israel’s national dishes, and are a staple in many Middle Eastern countries including Palestine and Lebanon, it is often suggested that falafel might have evolved from the Egypt dish known as taameya. By the 1950s, to earn a living, Yemenite immigrants in Israel started making falafel in the streets, selling it wrapped in paper, which has eventually transformed this ancient dish into an early form of Israeli fast food and facilitet the global recognition of it.

As an alternative to the Israeli version, the Egyptian taameya uses fava beans instead of chickpeas, while the mixture is typically flavored with parsley, coriander, cumin, and onions. Today, both in Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, falafel fritters are most commonly enjoyed in pita or lafa flatbread sandwiches, topped with fresh or pickled vegetables, and coated either in hummus paste, tahini dip, or a zesty, garlic-flavored yogurt sauce.

The fava bean mixture is typically flavored with leeks, onions, fresh coriander, parsley, and cumin, and the fritters are usually coated with sesame seeds before frying. Taameya are known for having a lighter, fluffier, and moister texture than other falafel varieties thanks to the use of fava beans.

Although they are eaten year-round and are a common street food fare in Egypt, taameya fritters are especially popular during Ramadan. They’re commonly stuffed in warm pita bread sandwiches and paired with accompaniments such as fresh or pickled vegetables, fried eggplants, minty yogurt sauces, hummus dip, and tahini dip.

Taameya

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