Before chicken nuggets existed, there was falafel! The perfect falafel are browned and crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and flecked with fresh herbs and sesame seeds for extra crunch and nuttiness. Ideally the inside is green to reflect the infusion of either parsley or cilantro, depending on region and preference. Speaking of region, the word falafel first appeared on paper in Egyptian literature in 1882, which is why many historians conjecture this delicacy is more modern than most Arab cuisine. There was a copious amount of fava bean crops in Egypt, so this legume became a staple in that country, particularly under the Muhammad Ali dynasty from the 19th to the mid 20th century. The first Egyptian falafel recipes contained fava beans, but as this street food traveled to Levantine countries like Lebanon and Palestine, favas were replaced with chickpeas. Some recipes combine both legumes together. Today this street food is enjoyed throughout the middle east, and Lebanon set a new world record for the largest serving of falafel that weighed in at 5,173 kilograms (about 11,400 pounds).
While people might think falafel is difficult to make, in truth the recipe is quite easy and economical as well. A large bag of dried chickpeas can make several dozen falafel, and once the chickpeas are soaked overnight all you need are some herbs, spices, and a food processor to bring this nugget to life. The falafel batter can be formed into small nuggets or large vegetable patties. You can pan fry them, deep fry them, or air fry them depending on your dietary preferences. Traditionally they are made into small patties fried in vegetable oil. Once cooked you can tuck them into fresh pita or sesame bread with a yogurt tahini sauce, vegetables, and pickles. Or you can serve them in a mezze, or appetizer plate along with dips like hummus and baba ghanoush.
If you want to save time, there are some great falafel mixes in the market with minimally processed ingredients. Most mixes require that you only mix them with water, and set aside for at least 30 minutes before shaping and frying. To add homemade touches to the mixes, you can add more spices like cumin and chile powder, or more herbs like parsley or cilantro. Add some nutty crunch with sesame seeds, or more moisture with grated onion.
To see how my mother and I review and rate 5 falafel mixes in the market for taste and texture, click on the video below:
FELAFEL MIXES WE TRIED:
1st Place: Ziyad Felafel Mix: https://amzn.to/2SuzhB0
2nd Place: Tarazi Felafel Mix: https://amzn.to/3vdL0kI
3rd Place: Knorr Felafel Mix: https://amzn.to/3vo247v
4th Place: Trader Joes Felafel Mix: https://amzn.to/2RPmCIt
5th Place: Casbah Felafel Mix: https://amzn.to/3gfpTua