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Falafel fact sheet

Sometimes it is shaped like a ball and sometimes like a flat burger. It may have a pail brown color, or be darksome. Have a smooth or grainy texture, and be eaten inside a pita or a Turkish bread. Make way for the hummus’s brother: falafel.

Falafel is the second most common dish made of chickpeas, after hummus of course. It is eaten in many Arab and Mediterranean countries, each with it’s own special version.

You can find falafel all around the world today. But when in the US and North Europe, is it usually made by ex-Israeli’s, Lebanese, Egyptians or Turks. Falafel is very common in these countries (except Turkey).

Is falafel a Jewish/Israeli food?
Well, there is that theory about how the ancient Jews invented falafel during their slavery in Egypt, and brought it back with them to the holy land. Doesn’t sound too convincing to me, but falafel does owe a lot to Israel, where it is highly popular. In Israel, falafel has first found it’s way into the pita bread. Israeli’s were also the first to spread it to Europe and the US, somewhere around the early 1970’s.

But where did it come from?
A common theory suggests falafel was invented some 1000 years ago by the Egyptian Copts, who brought it with them to the rest of the middle-east. Another theory date the invention of falafel as far as the the 6th century AD, or even earlier, placing it on the subcontinent of India, which is known until today for making various chickpea-based dishes. And like anything else – some say it was invented by the ancient Egyptians.

What is falafel made of?
There’s a falafel recipe here which you can check for yourself and see. To make long things short: soaked chickpeas, coriander, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. When it is greener, it usually means there’s a lot of coriander in it. Some add onions, parsley, paprika and sesame seeds to it. Soaked bread and baking soda are often used to make it more airy.

But originally, falafel was made from broad beans.
Even today, Egyptian falafel is made of ful (brown dried broad beans). Surprisingly, not only is the taste pretty similar, but falafel made of chickpeas is also considered healthier.

Is falafel good for you?
Falafel contains around 325 calories for 100gm. It’s made out of 35% water, 30% carbohydrates, 15 percent protein and some 20% of the rest – which may include some fat and also vitamins and minerals, from potassium and magnesium to folate. When deep fried, the falafel contains relatively little fat, and when eaten with salad it is both satiating and healthy.

Is there a correct way to eat it?
In Berlin where it is fairly common, falafel is usually made by Turks. They serve it in a Turkish toasted bread, with salads, and some spicy sauces. In the middle-east, it is eaten inside a pocket pita bread, mainly with vegetable salad and tahini. In Israel you also usually get some French fries, pickles and pickled cabbage. In Arab countries, Traditionally, it is eaten as a stand alone side dish.

What makes the different texture in different places?
The best way to make falafel is by grinding the ingredients through a meat grinder. In some places, a simple food processor is used, so the texture is more smooth and it is less crunchy.

6 Comments on Falafel fact sheet

  1. I very much enjoy hummus in all its different varieties (i.e. making it with beans other than chic peas). When I was in Israel several years ago I loved how the hummus was served and the healthy portions were welcome. What a great premise for your blog!


    Chef Jules

  2. I just posted a review about Wild Garden Hummus, check it out and cool Blog!!~

    good luck

  3. I love hummus! Especially with a nice garlicy-lemony bite to it. The best I’ve ever had was in Worcester MA – there are several Middle Eastern restaurants there – at Shiraz. Also, in the Worcester MA area there is a pita bread company called “Baystate Bakery” that is phenomenal! It’s SOOOOO fresh. Wish I still lived in MA.

    Good luck with your blog.

    Virtual Foodie

  4. and ONLY lebanese know how to de the traditionnal pita bread, the other syrians, egyptians, palestinians, or israelis know how to do but after 10 minute after baking, it can go for the garbage 😉

  5. today i had hummus 4 the very 1st time. IT IS DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. An easy Falafel recipe | The Hummus Blog
  2. Are Falafel and Tahini nutritious too? : The Hummus Blog

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