Falafel is a deep-fried flat, ball or doughnut-shaped patty made from either chickpeas or fava beans and sometimes both. The word falafel comes from the Arabic phrase falāfil, which means “pepper.”
This dish is available all around the world as a popular vegetarian option. For people who have excluded meat out of their diet, falafel is an excellent source of protein. It is super low in fat and contains no cholesterol if you fry it in grapeseed oil. It can be added into pitas or sandwiches for a hearty meal!
This dish can also be found in the form of street food. Vendors sell falafel along the street, especially in Israel, Egypt and Syria. Can be considered as fast food but, at the same time, it is the national dish of Israel.
What is falafel?
It is a popular Middle Eastern dish with herbs and spices added to the chickpeas or fava beans dough. This patty is then fried until it has a golden brown appearance on the outside and tender inside.
This particular version of fried vegetarian fritters is often served along with hummus and tahini sauce, a combination known as “falafel plate.” They are also excellent served with toum, a Middle Eastern garlic sauce.
Falafel is better baked as it is healthier compared to frying it using a vast amount of oil. The chickpeas used in preparing a falafel should be dried chickpeas instead of canned chickpeas. Falafels made with canned chickpeas are wetter and dulls the aromatic flavour of a falafel.
The chickpeas should be soaked for at least four hours to prevent chunks in the falafel. It is better to get fresh and smaller chickpeas as the old and large ones are harder to soften.
History of Falafel
Falafel is originated from Egypt. This dish was made from dried white fava beans known as tamiya with a light green filling according to “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food”. Tamiya was said to be related to the Copts of Egypt, who practised one of the earliest forms of Christianity. They believed that humankind was initially vegetarian, therefore, commanded many days of eating only vegan food, including tamiya.
As this dish migrated northwards to the Levant, fava beans were then replaced by chick beans. Some said that it came from the Arabs or Turks. However, some theories stated that chickpea-based food came from Yemen.
Falafel serves its role both as a main dish and appetiser. As a main dish, it is served as a sandwich; stuffed in pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and tahini. As an appetiser, it is served on a salad or with hummus and tahini.
Falafel can be made into falafel plates or wrapping it using pita bread, Lebanese bread or large flatbreads. It can also be served as the perfect gluten-free meal by making falafel plates using flavoured rice instead of bread such as using Mejadra, which is Middle Eastern Lentil Rice. French fries are also sometimes added in the pita with falafel instead of vegetables.
The sauce in the falafel is the soul of this dish as it provides some moisture to the dry patty. Tahini Sauce is the standard sauce used in a falafel, but it’s also fantastic with a yoghurt-lemon sauce or a thinned down hummus. This falafel recipe also freezes well. Therefore one can make a big batch and save for later.
Where to find falafel in Malaysia
Falafel can be found in most Mediterranean restaurants in Malaysia. It is also available at Shawarma Damascus In (Kuala Lumpur) and Shawarma King (Bangsar). Find more about Middle Eastern cuisine on foodpanda!