Yemeni-style falafel (Al-bajeeh)

January 6, 2011  •  Category:


Are you familiar with Yemen?

I wasn’t  either, except that my mother and several relatives had been there and told me about this magical place.

Very ancient civilizations  flourished in Yemen; it was believed to have been the home of the Queen of Sheba; it was a center for myrrh and frankincense trade (in the port city of Aden). Socotra, an island off the coast of Yemen, was named a World Heritage Site by the Unesco. It is considered an ecological  marvel, with hundreds of endemic species of plants and birds (found nowhere else on earth).

Unfortunately, today Yemen is very poor. Friends and relatives who visited the country recently mention that children there do not beg, they simply ask tourists for pencils. Yemen’s population is mostly young and unemployment is at 65%.

Well, this is a Yemeni falafel that I had to tweak because the recipe called for dried rehydrated green beans; so to make it work I gave it a Southern touch and added cornmeal, a little like a hush puppy. It gave the batter body and a nice texture for frying.


  • 1 pound of green beans
  • 2  jalapeño peppers (can substitute 1 teaspoon of hot paprika or Aleppo pepper)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, mashed with a dash of salt
  • 2 egg whites or one whole egg (optional)
  • 1 cup of cornmeal  or polenta (or semolina)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans or other nuts (optional)
  • 2 cups of oil, for frying
  • hummus, to serve with or plain yogurt with a tablespoon of wasabi mayo

Recipe widely tweaked from melh wa-succar #17


First of all, place the green beans in a bowl and pour several cups of boiling water on them; when the water reaches room temperature, drain them and cut off the ends and chop them in half lengthwise.

  1. Quarter the onion and place in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until chopped and then add the other ingredients, such as dried coriander, salt, jalapeño peppers, cumin, garlic and all the green beans, chopped in half lengthwise. Process until the mixture is nicely chopped up and add the cornmeal and eggs, process a few seconds longer and let it sit for a while.
  2. Heat some oil in a skillet, about 2 inches deep; when the oil is hot (at about 375F), take some cornmeal and pour into a small bowl. Take a cookie scooper, dip in water and dip in cornmeal. Now scoop out some falafel batter, dip in the cornmeal bowl and gently plop into the hot oil. Be careful not to get oil splashes, as it will cause serious burns.
  3. Flip on the other side each falafel after one minute of frying. Remove and place on paper towels to soak up the oil. Serve with hummus or yogurt spiked with wasabi mayo.

NOTE: The original recipe only called for rehydrated dried green beans, onion, garlic, chilis and spices. I added the cornmeal and the eggs and the pecans. The batter was too runny without these ingredients in my opinion. You can skip the chili peppers but add some spice to give it a kick like paprika or chile powder or cinnamon.


53 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. peter says:

    I know little of Yemen but those photos you included are enticing me…especially that beach photo.

    Interesting to make fritters from green beans bu why not? I’m all for the jalapenos…it’s cold outside!

  2. The Gypsy Chef says:

    This looks so good. The pictures are beautiful and this little bit of Yeman has piqued my interest.
    Happy New Year!

  3. Cara says:

    So funny you said that about kale – I thought I was the only one who disliked kale chips! I’ve given them about 3 tries after seeing so many bloggers fall in love with them, but they’re just not for me. Cooked kale, though, is a totally different story.

    I have never heard of green beans in falafel – I’m intrigued. Love the addition of nuts too!

  4. Jojo says:

    What an interesting felafel! I’m definitely going to try this recipe. Interesting about Yemen. I have friends who lived in Yemen for 20 years. They raised a family (5 children) there and helped start a hospital (a husband and wife doctor and nurse team).

    About 3 years ago one of my friends traveled there on business and sent beautiful pictures (I loved the pictures of the old architecture) but sadly I don’t think it’s a good place to travel these days. Looking forward to trying to recipie.

  5. Claudia says:

    Many thanks for the information on Yemen. I did not realize its history. Children begging for pencils just hit me hard. Why pencils? What does it say about them. A lot.

    The greens in the falafal are wonderful- the color, the flavors. all the more intersting that it comes from Yemen.

  6. Devaki says:

    What astounding images from Yemen and so beautifully you have woven the history, culture and recipe together. You are fantastic and your food is even more so 🙂

    Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  7. Karen says:

    Wow your photos and description has peaked my interest in a country I really know very little about. Love seeing how different countries make falafel!

  8. turkey's for life says:

    Yemen looks absolutely beautiful in your photos. Such a shame the country is so poor.
    As for the falafel; it looks gorgeous. I’ve never seen it made with green beans before.

  9. Diane says:

    This looks really interesting and I have all the ingredients in the house. Diane

  10. Rosa says:

    Yemen is such a beautiful country!

    Those felafels are wonderful! I love that green version.



  11. Couscous & Conscious says:

    These little falafel look gorgeous – love the idea of the green beans and cornmeal in them – I will definitely give them a try. I don’t know much about Yemen at all, but when I was a little girl my grandmother started a stamp collection for me and used to often bring me stamps for my collection. On one occasion she bought me the most beautiful set of stamps from Yemen (I don’t know how she got them) – I remember that they were triangular in shape and had pictures of cats on them. They were the most beautiful ones in my collection and I used to look at them all the time 🙂
    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and taking the time to leave your lovely comment.
    Sue 🙂

  12. Priya says:

    Very interesting yemeni style falafel, tempting..

  13. Rachana says:

    The pictures are so beautiful. And, I’ve never seen or had green beans falafel. Looks so tempting.

  14. FOODESSA says:

    First…I so enjoyed the captures in this post…especially the mesmerizing waterfront scenery. Those trees are incredible too…just stunning!
    About Yemen and many countries like it…I am always saddened to know that in the world we live in…people are still not at peace etc. I think better stop there.

    Joumana, those falafels are very appetizing and I’m looking forward to integrating your recipe with one of my other favoured recipe of this treat ;o)

    Ciao for now and flavourful wishes,

  15. Steve @ HPD says:

    third pic — trees. what are those? very sci-fi.

    • Joumana says:

      @Steve: These are the red dragon trees, which are endemic to the island of Socotra, in Yemen.

      @Deana: the building on the cliff is in San’a I believe in the old town; there are hundreds of buildings like this in Yemen; my mom told me that the animals are kept in the lower levels to live.

      @Adair: I would not bake these as they are not firm enough. Don’t say I did not warn you! 🙂

  16. Nadji says:

    Il n’y a pas de doute : ces falafels doivent être délicieux.
    Mon frère a visité le Yémen et nous a raconté de nombreuses anecdotes sur le pays.
    Je savais que le qat faisait des ravages dans la populations mais j’ignorais que le pays était pauvre.
    Je note cette recette.
    A très bientôt.

  17. Caffettiera says:

    I am shamefully not familiar with Yemen, but those pictures you posted are starting off some internet surfing here. Thanks for sharing the adapted recipe, I guess that with dried and rehydrated green beans it must be pretty different a batter. I had no clue you could dry green beans.

  18. Cherine says:

    Beautiful shots.
    I love this green version of falafel. Must be delicious!

  19. Marina says:

    Tout d’abord, très bonne année à toi et à ta famille!
    Voici des falafels qui me semblent bien bons, je les essaierais bien..Merci!

  20. deana says:

    I must ask, where is that insanely gorgeous building on the cliff… it is amazing! Then the falafel… I do love it so and the green beans are a wondrous and original addition. Really an eye-opening version… thanks, Joumana!!

  21. Sarena says:

    These look delicious! I love the color and the way you subbed the ingredients to make them more user friendly. They are definitely going on my list of things to make soon!

  22. The Mom Chef ~ Takin says:

    I’ve never heard of falafels made with green beans, but I love the color. You did an excellent job re-creating them with the corn meal addition. It makes me sad to know that the country is experiencing such poverty though.

    I lived in Beirut in the late 60’s, while my father was president of Haigazian University, just as an aside. I adored it there.

  23. Jessica says:

    wow these look amazing! Such a different twist with the green beans, coriander and jalapeno!

  24. Green Shushi says:

    Interesting ingredients in a falafel! I need to try this one out–thanks!

  25. TastyTrix says:

    I once knew a veterinarian from Yemen who opened a bodega in NYC, so I figured the opportunities in that country were not exactly plentiful. It’s tragic that some parts of the world should be so poor when other parts are so greedy and have a ridiculous glut of things … I love how your blog so intelligently weaves food and culture.

  26. Erica says:

    This looks so yummy!! !!!! I will try this sometime this week

  27. Katerina says:

    The addition of cinnamon would be a good idea. I have a very sensitive stomach and I cannot eat very hot meals. The pictures are perfect. Yemen is considered to be a very poor country. I wonder how many years will pass until poverty will stop killing people. I guess this is going to be an endless situation.

  28. The Mom Chef says:

    Wow, what a small world! I haven’t been in Lebanon since 1970, but my father returns regularly, most recently for their big anniversary. People keep asking if I will go back and I tell them I don’t want to because I know most of my memories are destroyed (like the British Community School, where I went). The memories, though, those are wonderful. What a country (and what food!).

  29. weirdcombos says:

    This falafel looks scrumptious! I love the inner live green hue imparted by the beans.
    These trees are incredibly beautiful. It is amazing how nature is diverse and how isolation made places like this so unique.

  30. Joan Nova says:

    I love falafel and eat them at every opportunity — though I don’t think I’ve ever had them with green beans as a base. The ones I’ve had are chick pea-based.

    That first photo of Yemen is magical.

  31. Maria says:

    I too never knew much of Yemen. Those photos are absolutely amazing … so many natural wonders!

    These falafel look delicious. I love your additions to the recipe.

  32. SYLVIA says:

    Gorgeous back-drop of Yemen. Helping people in need that’s what world should be about.
    Joumana, it’s nice to know there are so many ways to prepare this healthful middle eastern concoction, has the perfect foil for the green bean, the right size to pop in your mouth, it’s spicy and vibrant and the greenness that comes through looks beautiful. they’re also very happy to come out from the hot oil, it’s cold on the plate.

  33. Katie @Cozydelicious says:

    These look amazing. I love that you relate them to hush puppies! The combo of flavors and textures sounds wonderful – spicy and crunchy and savory. And so interesting to learn about Yemen.

  34. Banana Wonder says:

    You just inspired me to add falafel making to my 2011 Bucket List. I’ve love, love, love falafels and have not been able to find any good ones as of late. I love your recipe with the green beans. They look so good!

  35. Ivy says:

    Love the idea of making falafels out of grean beans.

  36. Chiara says:

    I had never heard of this wonderful island, thanks for sharing with us this valuable information, I wonder if it is still wild … The recipe looks delicious …. a hug

  37. maptiteacademie says:

    Je découvre ton blog. Vraiment super ! tout est découverte. Merci !

  38. Louise says:

    Lovely images, Joumana. I must admit, I too knew little about Yemen. The falafel sounds awesome. Really liking the notion of green beans and spices.

    Thanks for sharing…

  39. Eve@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    Very interesting falafel. And Yemen is a new curiosity now. It is a shame some countries and that part of the world remain so obscur and poor yet they have such other riches we can only dream about.

  40. Dimah says:

    Oh, it sounds and looks fantastic!

  41. Carol says:

    I love falafel, never saw green beans in then ones I get here, it looks fantastic!

  42. Lentil Breakdown says:

    This is a fascinating post. I’m really gung ho about trying this, but I think I will bake them instead (I know they won’t be as tasty though).

  43. Angie's Recipes says:

    I love these fresh garden bean falafel…maybe I could try it with green peas? They look so delicious.

  44. Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours says:

    Wow! What stunning photos. I must learn more about Yeman.

    The falafels also look great. I’ll be making them too.

  45. Mika says:

    I know nothing about Yemen and I really enjoyed this post…I’m very curious about other country cuisine and your blog is an amazing source of information…thanks

  46. Heni says:

    Very interesting indeed! Try this out in the summer when we have green beans around: I have been to Yemen … many wonders for sure … cuisine way interesting to experiment with but spicy and kinda too much curry flavours for me.

  47. OysterCulture says:

    What an interesting recipe and those photos are amazing. I could stare at those trees for hours.

  48. Jamie says:

    The photos of Yemen are incredible! And so are these falafel! And strangely enough, I always wondered why some felafel I buy is green! I always make it with chick peas. Great recipe!

  49. Gania says:

    These really look yummy!! Thanks for the recipe! Your pictures are amazing, thanks for sharing

  50. Murasaki Shikibu says:

    And the other day I was wondering what I could do with some green beans. Fantastic!

Add a Comment