Falafel express

October 29, 2011  •  Category:



When in Beirut or any other Middle-Eastern city, making falafels at home seems superfluous; after all, every neighborhood offers at least one great falafel joint. In Dallas, however, one needs to plan a trip to a Middle-Eastern restaurant or make one’s own from scratch; the made-from-scratch version requires some time.

This is a speedy version of the traditional falafel, presented as a bite-size appetizer with some tarator sauce. I used some leftover pesto instead of fiddling with fresh herbs and it worked out just fine.

INGREDIENTS: 50 bite-size falafels

  • 350 g. of chickpeas (from one can)
  • 1/4 cup of fine bulgur (can substitute another grain), soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained well
  • 4 tbsps. of pesto (made with fresh mint, basil, garlic and olive oil)
  • 1 large egg (optional)
  • Spices: 1 tsp of coriander, 1 tsp of cumin, 1  tsp of Aleppo pepper, 1 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp of black pepper
  • chopped garlic, to taste
  • 1  onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour (or cornstarch)
  • 1/2 cup of dry breadcrumbs (more or less as needed)
  • 1 cup of sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup of nigella seeds
  • oil as needed for frying

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup of tahini
  • 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed with a dash of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of Aleppo pepper or paprika


  1. Drain the chickpeas. If desired, one can simmer them for thirty minutes in some water and a dash of baking soda, then drain them and rub off the skins. Place the chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor. Add the rest of ingredients and combine into a paste; taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside covered in the fridge till ready to fry.
  2. Heat oil in a large and deep skillet (to about 1/4 inch); shape the falafels into balls using a teaspoon or a cookie dough scooper (1/2 inch); drop the falafels in the hot oil and let them sizzle and brown on all sides. Remove and dip into the sesame seeds and nigella seeds if desired. If you fry them with the seeds, the seeds will drop in the oil (I did that).
  3. Make the sauce by stirring all ingredients until smooth; taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon juice or water if needed to make it smooth and easy to dip into.


33 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Turkey's For Life says:

    We LOVE falafel but they’re never just as I want them to be when we make our own. Unfortunately, Turkey (western Turkey at least) doesn’t have the falafel joints you mentioned. If only…I’ve never used fine bulgur so will give this a try as yours look great. 🙂

  2. Cherine says:

    I love falafels! Those are wonderful

  3. Verkin says:

    Love this recipe!
    specially when I see the words ” place all in the food processor”
    We will try it with my sous chef (husband)
    I will prepare it and he will fry :))

    Thank you so much

  4. Belinda @zomppa says:

    Hmm. Never have tried to make my own, but going to now!

  5. Rosa says:

    Yummy! I’d love some of those tonight.



  6. kouky says:

    hummm!! j’aime beaucoup cette version des falafels!je testerai bien! trop joli ton décor coloré!!

  7. Melanie@MelanieCooks says:

    I love felafel! I never tried to make them myself. Your felafels look so yummy!

  8. Sheridan says:

    are they ok if made a few hours ahead for a dinner party side dish?

    • Joumana says:

      @Sheridan: I actually made them a day ahead and am planning to warm them up in a 300F oven for 5 minutes.

      @Doc: I actually just reviewed a book called Delights from the Garden of Eden that will give you all the historical information you would need, going back to Akkadian cuneiform tablets with recipes.

  9. Angie's Recipes says:

    Lovely bites! I love the sauce too.

  10. Foodafok says:

    Wonderful presentation.

  11. deana says:

    Who doesn’t love falafel? I just had some a few days ago from one of the many places in NYC that serve them.. they are just the best light lunch with all that lovely salad. Your recipe is unusual… I would love to give it a try since I have made falafel many times and love it. Your recipes are always so good!!

  12. Katherine Martinelli says:

    I know what you mean about not making them at home when they are so readily available – and cheap! But I know as soon as I head back to the states I will crave real falafel. This recipe looks great!

  13. Chiara says:

    I never tried to make them myself but yours seems easy to make! a hug..

  14. Ali says:

    These look delicious, never tasted falafel before but am the adventurous type of guy and would love to taste this. Nice photo

  15. Claudia says:

    This woiuld be a hit here – hard to find good falafel in these parts and we all love them – so thanks for an easy recipe! Love the sauce. The pesto – exceedingly good idea!

  16. Marina says:

    il faut vraiment que j’essaye! avec cette petite sauce..

  17. Nadji says:

    Avec toi, tout devient tellement simple et les recettes tellement accessibles.
    Merci beaucoup.
    On peut trouver de très bonnes recettes dans Femme actuelle Hors série Cuisine.
    A très bientôt

  18. Susan says:

    Beautiful presentation! These are delicious little morsels.

  19. Rachana says:

    Those falafels look so good. I love them 🙂

  20. Doc says:

    MMMmmm, nice lamb shanks! I also love the historical aspect of the carrot cake recipe. Do you have any good book recs regarding historical Middle Eastern recipes? I love falafel, these bite sized bits are stellar!

  21. Devaki says:

    I know exactly what you mean Joumana – some dishes that we make at home here we would never dream of making in our home towns. These falafels are spectacular and am thinking up ways of sneaking them into my Thanksgiving week meals 🙂

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  22. Faith says:

    The reason you mentioned is exactly why I had to learn how to make falafel, lol! These look delicious, Joumana. I’ve never used canned chickpeas to make falafel, but I will definitely give this recipe a try!

  23. Oui, Chef says:

    I love the idea of a quick to nibble falafel…I could eat the whole plate.

  24. Tall Clover Farm says:

    Joumana, with this recipe, you will likely make me the next potluck hero when an appetizer is in order! Thank you!

  25. Hélène (Cannes) says:

    Je vais nous faire ça très vite. Super, cette idée d’utiliser le pesto !

  26. domi says:

    Expressément une gourmandise exotique pour nous….

  27. Nuts about food says:

    Love the pesto idea Joumana

  28. Shafik Mansur says:

    I soak dried chickpeas in water with some baking soda overnight…the cooked (canned) ones do not make very good falafel at all…in my opinion. Otherwise…a super recipe!

  29. banu says:

    i have one question……i always prepare falafel like that.
    keep the chickpeas one night in water and on the next day you cook it with new water…the old water you dont use.
    but i never remove the skin…??!!! is that wrong or unhealty?
    thank you bye

    • Joumana says:

      @banu: Removing the skins is optional, I do it because I have seen it done around me; maybe Lebanese people have more delicate stomachs, as some claim it makes it easier to digest!

  30. katerina says:

    we do this in cyprus,and we love them.do you use cooked chikpeas?

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