When I first discovered these years ago, I originally pronounced it “fal-a-fel”. It didn’t help that Food Network star Ricardo also called it that. If they say it on the Food Network, it must right….right? Well, apparently not. It’s “fa-la-fel”. Well, to-mae-to, tom-ma-toe!
Anyway, today is International Falafel Day which is why I decided to talk about falafels. They are Middle Eastern style balls of ground chickpeas with spices. They have a crunchy, grainy texture to it, but are soft on the inside. They’re like croquettes and can be eaten as appetizers on a mezze plate or on a salad, but they are frequently used in pita wraps filled with various toppings too.
The most common toppings include lettuce, tomatoes, beets, hummus, garlic sauce and tahini. However, some like to add hot sauce, onions and pickles too. And when everything is plopped together, it looks like a long log.
It’s best served when it is hot and the pita is slightly crispy from the panini maker. And inside, when it is filled with all the sauces and toppings it looks something like this.
Falafel can also be baked, though I imagine it would change the texture. There are pre-made boxes of falafel spices that can be bought, but there are many recipes online which seem simple enough to make – chickpeas, onion, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic, salt and parsley are some of the common elements of a falafel. However, my preference is to buy them because deep frying can be an oily mess in the house. Besides, they are often cheap to purchase fresh and a great alternative to their meaty sibling, the shawarma. 🙂