Falafel recipe – A detailed step by step photo guide to make delicious chickpea falafel at home. Known as a very popular street food in various parts of the world, falafel is a versatile and delicious vegetarian food that has its roots in the Middle East. Making falafel at home is extremely easy, much easier than you think. Once you try them am sure you will turn back to them time & again! In this post I share the traditional chickpea falafel with 3 cooking methods – deep frying, baking and air frying. These turn out crisp from outside, fluffy and moist inside.
Falafel is a round or patty shaped fritter made with chickpeas or broad beans (fav beans) that are ground with spices and herbs. Portions of the ground mixture is shaped and fried to golden perfection before serving. Falafel are commonly served inside a pita or wrapped in a soft flatbread accompanied by tahini sauce, vegetables and pickles which makes them a satisfying meal for lunch or dinner.
Alternatively, they make a wonderful Snack or appetizer that is sure to please both vegetarian and non-vegetarian guests, alike. These are naturally gluten-free and vegan.
You will find many variations of the traditional falafel like herb falafel, spinach falafel, veggie falafel and turmeric falafel. But we love the traditional classic version and this is what I have shared in this post. I have also shared 2 favorite dips – Tahini sauce and yogurt dip in the recipe card to serve with falafel.
Making Traditional Falafel
Making traditional falafel at home does require a bit of advanced preparation as the chickpeas require some inactive time soaking in water which is simple and yet, quite necessary. However, this should not dissuade you from making them from scratch. The key to the best, most authentic falafel is to start with dry chickpeas or fav beans.
After an overnight soak in water, they are then rinsed well and ground in a food processor or a grinder with onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, black pepper, cayenne or chili powder and parsley. Once the mixture is coarsely ground and uniformly mixed, add enough flour or chickpea flour (gluten-free version), to get it to adhere together.
You can test this by gathering a small amount in your hand to make sure it maintains its shape so that you can fry without the risk of them falling apart.
After you have achieved the proper consistency, you can shape them right away into small balls about 1½ inch in diameter. At this point you may find that refrigerating the mixture for about an hour will make them easier to handle and more likely to stay together when you fry them.
For further convenience, you can also keep them in the refrigerator for a few days uncooked. Just be sure to keep them covered so that they don’t dry out.
How to make Falafel (Stepwise Photos)
1. Add 2 cups chickpeas to a large bowl and rinse them thoroughly at least thrice. Soak them for 12 hours in lots of water. Do not cover the bowl. You can use a mesh cover or a clean cloth. Chickpeas need some air circulation. Avoid keeping them covered.
2. Later drain the water and rinse them well with fresh water. Drain them completely to a colander. Then transfer to a grinder or a processor along with
- 1 medium chopped onion
- 4 to 6 garlic cloves
- 1½ to 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1½ to 2 teaspoons ground cumin (or 1½ teaspoon seeds)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon black pepper (add less for kids)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon cayenne or red chilli powder (add less for kids)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ to ½ cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or chickpea flour.
3. Process all of these until it reaches a coarse texture. No water is added. Take a small portion of this mixture to your pal. Try shaping it to a ball, by pressing with your fingers. The mixture should bind well and hold the shape.
If it does not bind and falls apart, process it a bit more until it passes this test. But the texture must still be coarse.
4. Refrigerating this for an hour ensures your falafels won’t fall apart while frying. If you intend to air fry or bake the falafels, add ½ to ⅔ teaspoon baking powder & mix well. I do not add it for frying. Take small portions, about 1½ to 2 tablespoons of the dough to your palm. Press down with your fingers to shape to balls. You may flatten them slightly but only if you have used flour while processing.
Frying or Baking Falafel
5. I use up half of the processed mixture and then refrigerated the rest for the next day. To bake them, place the falafels on a greased tray. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 F or 200 C for 12 minutes on each side.
6. When you are ready to fry the falafel, heat a deep skillet over medium heat. Using vegetable oil, bring the temperature up to about 350 F degrees. If you do not have a thermometer, simply test by dropping a small portion of dough to the hot oil. It must come up slowly without turning brown. Gently lower the falafel balls into the oil. Regulate the heat to medium. Do not disturb them for 2 mins until they become slightly firm.
7. Cook them on one side until golden brown, rotating them to achieve even color on all sides.
8. Carefully remove them from the pan and drain them well on a rack or towel to remove excess oil. Fry all of them in batches.
I have shared a quick Tahini sauce and an yogurt dip in the recipe card below which I make to go with these falafel. While the falafel are really delicious wrapped in a pita with vegetables and tahini sauce as they are traditionally served, they are a wonderful snack or appetizer too. Accompanied by a green salad, they are a perfect vegetarian lunch. A creamy yogurt dressing is a perfect counterpoint to their crisp exterior and aromatic flavor.
If it should happen that you have made more than you can eat, you can refrigerate and very easily reheat them in the oven. This will bring back some of the crispness that you achieved while frying.
- Dry Chickpeas: For best results make the falafels from scratch using dry chickpeas. If using canned chickpeas, then use about ¾ to 1 cup flour for 1 can of chickpeas. To make it gluten free use chickpea flour.
- Processing: Process the mixture right for a good binding. The processed mixture has to be coarse like the couscous. Very coarse mixture tends to disintegrate the falafel in oil. Too much processing will make the falafel mixture pasty altering the texture of falafel.
- Flour: I do not use flour as I have never felt the need. But if you are making the falafel for the first time then you can add about 1 to 2 tbsp all-purpose flour for binding. For a gluten free version use chickpea flour.
- The ground falafel dough, balls or patties can be refrigerated for up to 2 days in an air tight container. Use them as required.
- To make herb falafel, add in more parsley or cilantro while processing.
- Feel free to wrap the bite sized pieces of falafels in rotis, tortillas or plain parathas with some fresh veggies and yogurt sauce. They taste yum. You can very easily bake these in the mornings for breakfast or lunch box. My kid’s love these plain with some garlic yogurt dip for their breakfast.
Falafel Recipe with Chickpeas
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 2 cups dry chickpeas (garbanzo beans, uncooked/ raw)
- oil as needed for frying
- 1 medium onion cubed
- 4 to 6 garlic cloves
- ¼ to ½ cup parsley chopped (or coriander leaves)
- 1½ to 2 teaspoon ground cumin or 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1½ to 2 teaspoon ground coriander (powder)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon ground black pepper (powder)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper or red chilli powder
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 2 tablespoons chickpea flour or all-purpose flour (optional)
- ½ to ⅔ teaspoon baking powder (optional, refer notes)
- Add chickpeas to a large bowl and rinse them well at least thrice. Soak them in fresh water for at least 12 hours.
- After the soak, discard the water and rinse them well with fresh water. Drain them to a colander.
- Add chickpeas, cumin, coriander, pepper, cayenne, salt, onion, garlic, parsley and flour to a food processor or a grinder. Process to a coarse mixture without adding water.
- The mixture must resemble the texture of wheat semolina or couscous and not like a smooth paste. If the mixture is not processed well the balls can fall apart while frying in the oil.
- Test the processed dough by taking a small portion (1½ to 2 tbsps.) to your palm and press it down with your fingers and shape to a ball. The mixture should hold shape. If not process a little more until it passes this test.
- Optionally refrigerate for an hour. This step helps the mixture to bind well. This mixture keeps good in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- When you are ready to fry the falafel, add baking powder. I use it only for the air fryer and baked versions and don't if frying.
Deep Frying falafel
- On a medium flame, heat oil in a deep pan just enough to partially immerse the falafel. Too much oil in the pan can sometimes disintegrate the falafel. (check the pictures)
- Test 1: Drop a small portion of dough to the hot oil, it should come up to the surface steadily without turning brown. This means the oil is ready to fry.
- Test 2: Shape 1½ to 2 tbsps. dough to a ball pressing it firmly with your fingers. Gently drop it in the hot oil & do not disturb until it becomes firm for about 2 mins. It should not fall apart, meaning your mixture is just right.
- Troubleshooting: If the falafel falls apart, add more flour or process the mixture a bit more.
- Make lemon sized balls and press them gently with your fingers to bind the mixture well. If you want you may flatten them slightly. You should be able to make about 25 to 30 falafel.
- Regulate the flame to medium, Gently slide them one after the other to the hot oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Do not disturb them for a minute or two until they cook a bit and firm up.
- Later turn them to the other side and deep fry them on a medium flame until golden & crisp. Remove the falafel to a steel colander, rack or kitchen towel.
- Serve falafel with your Tahini sauce or yogurt dip. You can also stuff in halved pita bread along with pickled veggies, toum or tahini sauce.
- To bake in oven, flatten the falafels to shape like patties. Preheat the oven to 400F or 200 C for at least 15 to 20 mins. Place the falafels on a greased tray and spray them with oil generously.
- Bake them for 12 mins and turn them to the other side gently. Continue to bake for another 12 mins until crisp and done. Over baking makes them dry.
- I prefer to flatten the balls to patties. Place them in the air fryer basket and air fry for 9 mins at 390F or 200 C. Turn them to the other side and fry for another 6 to 7 minutes until crisp.
- If you air fry them too long they will become dry. I prefer to spray them with oil after air frying.
- To make tahini sauce – I use ¾ cup tahini, ¼ cup + 2 tbsp warm water, 2 large garlic cloves, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, salt as needed, 2 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley. Process all the ingredients in a processor until pale, creamy and thick.
- To make a quick yogurt dip, use ¾ cup greek yogurt or hung curd, 1 tsp lemon juice, salt, 1 garlic clove, deseeded green chili (optional). Blend them and add parsley.
- Chickpeas: If your chickpeas are too old, you need to soak them longer otherwise the dough will be drier and the falafel will be denser. Adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the chickpeas while soaking helps a bit.
- Flour: I make falafel always without flour and it never disintegrates while frying. If you are keen to make them without flour, then you may need to experiment to get the correct texture of the dough (not very coarse and not fine). Too much flour in your dough will make denser falafel.
- Baking Powder: If you intend to fry the falafel, you may skip the baking powder. I never use for the fried version. But adding it to the baked and air fryer version does make a huge difference. They turn out slightly lighter and it also prevents them being too dry inside.
- Temperature of oil: Oil should be hot enough but not too hot else your falafel will turn brown on the outside too quickly without cooking inside.
- Green or herb falafel: If you love lot of herbs, you can double the quantities of parsley and coriander.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Falafel Recipe first published in July 2015. Updated & republished in February 2022.