International Falafel Day 2024: What Is Falafel, Where It Came From And 6 Tips To Make It Perfectly

On International Falafel Day today, let's learn more about this golden orb of delight that we all have come to love.

International Falafel Day 2024: What Is Falafel, Where It Came From And 6 Tips To Make It Perfectly

Falafel is a popular Middle Eastern dish.

If you have tried Middle Eastern cuisine, there's no way you could have missed falafel. The crispy disc-shaped fritter is a delight - whether paired with a dip or stuffed inside a pita bread. In the bustling streets of Middle Eastern markets, the scent of falafels wafts through the air, drawing in locals and travellers alike with its aroma. However, in recent years, falafel has enjoyed a surge in popularity worldwide, thanks in part to the growing interest in vegetarian and plant-based diets. Its flavorful combination of spices and herbs, combined with its satisfying crunch, has made it a favourite among food enthusiasts of all backgrounds.

But what exactly is falafel, and where did it come from? On International Falafel Day today, let's learn more about this golden orb of delight that we all have come to love. 

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What is Falafel?

Falafel is a beloved street food made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, mixed with herbs and spices, formed into balls or patties, and deep-fried until crispy. The result is a savoury, satisfying treat that's often tucked into pita bread and topped with tahini sauce, salad, and pickles.

Falafel's Journey Through History

The history of falafel is as rich and diverse as its flavour. While its exact origins are debated, many food historians trace its roots back to Egypt, where it was first made with fava beans. Over time, it spread across the Middle East, with each region adding its own unique twist to the recipe. Some believe that falafel was originally created by Copts, Egyptian Christians, as a meat substitute during Lent. Others argue that it was introduced by Yemeni Jews who settled in Israel, where it became a popular street food.

Regardless of its origins, falafel has become a culinary staple throughout the Middle East and beyond, beloved for its delicious taste and vegetarian-friendly nature. Today, you can find falafel not only in the streets of Cairo and Tel Aviv but also in cities around the globe, from New York to Delhi.

In India, where vegetarian cuisine has a long and vibrant history, falafel has found a welcoming audience. You can find vendors serving up hot, freshly fried falafel alongside a variety of accompaniments, from creamy hummus to tangy pickled vegetables.

While falafel is readily available at street stalls and restaurants, there's something special about making it at home. Here are some tips to help you perfect your falafel-making skills.

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Falafel can also be had pita bread and other accompaniments.

Falafel can also be had with pita bread and other accompaniments.
Photo Credit: iStock

Here Are 6 Tips For Making Perfect Falafel at Home 

1. Choose the Right Ingredients:

Start with high-quality chickpeas or fava beans. If using dried beans, soak them overnight for the best texture.

2. Add Flavorful Herbs and Spices:

Traditional falafel is seasoned with ingredients like parsley, cilantro, cumin, and garlic. Experiment with different combinations to find your perfect flavour profile.

3. Get the Texture Right:

The key to good falafel is a coarse texture, so avoid over-processing the mixture. You want it to be finely ground but still have some texture.

4. Use the Right Oil:

For frying falafel, choose an oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable or sunflower oil. Make sure the oil is hot enough (around 350 degrees F/175 degrees C) before adding the falafel to ensure it cooks evenly and develops a crispy exterior.

5. Don't Overcrowd the Pan:

Fry the falafel in batches to prevent overcrowding, which can cause them to cook unevenly and absorb too much oil.

6. Serve with Fresh Accompaniments:

Falafel is delicious on its own, but it's even better when served with fresh, flavourful accompaniments like tahini sauce, hummus, tabbouleh, and pickled vegetables.

By following these tips, you can recreate the magic of falafel in your own kitchen, transporting your taste buds to the bustling streets of the Middle East with every crispy bite. Check out our falafel recipes here