If you’ve never made falafel from scratch, I’m here to say: It’s possible, and it’s delicious. I was definitely intimidated by the task until I finally jumped right in. But I couldn’t have done it without following a few expert tips.
Ditch the canned chickpeas.
Every expert falafel fryer I spoke with agreed: You must use dried chickpeas to achieve the best, most authentic falafel. The easiest way to do this is to soak them overnight. Cookbook authors Vicky Cohen and Ruth Fox also suggest adding baking soda to the soaking chickpeas.
“Adding baking soda helps soften the beans and is gentler on the stomach,” they shared with The Nosher.
When you’re ready to begin putting your falafel mixture together, rinse the chickpeas well before processing.
But one important note: Make sure to reserve some of the soaking liquid to use in the falafel mixture in case it is a tad dry.
Use a food processor.
While you may not need any fancy tools for making falafel, you will need a decent-quality food processor to create the right consistency.
Add lots of bright herbs.
Don’t be scared of lots of fresh herbs in your falafel mix. Cookbook author Samantha Ferraro recommends using a mix of cilantro, parsley and mint for color and flavor.
Let it rest.
When you make matzah balls, it’s always crucial to allow the matzah ball mixture to rest in the fridge before rolling into balls and simmering. Same applies for falafel. After the mixture has come together in the food processer, empty into a bowl or container and allow to sit for 30 minutes before frying.
Fry a test batch.
My mom taught me to fry a small piece of meatball before frying all the meatballs to make sure the taste and consistency was right. And this rule also applies to falafel. To make sure your falafel will fry up, hold together and is seasoned well, fry up a small piece before jumping in. Taste, and then adjust accordingly. If the falafel is not holding together, add some of the chickpea soaking liquid 1 to 2 Tbsp. at a time until the mixture holds together more firmly.
OK, get frying (but you can actually bake them, too).
You don’t need a deep fryer to properly fry up falafel, or any special tools. You can use a cookie scoop, a large tablespoon or just your hands to shape into balls.
Food writer Susan Barocas actually prefers to make her falafel into patties, which are easier to serve on their own as bite-sized appetizers, or for stuffing into fluffy pita pockets. Barocas also swears you can bake your falafel instead of frying: Line the baking sheet with parchment, spray that with olive oil, and then put the patties on. Spray oil a bit generously on each patty and bake at 375 F for about 15 minutes, or until crisp, then flip, spray a little more oil and bake another 12 to 15 minutes until crisp on both sides.