Street Food MONDAY!!!! Today? Falafel. And if you’re not already totally on board, then I can only assume that you’ve never eaten a falafel. Because if you had eaten a falafel? You would already be grabbing your keys to go and buy the ingredients for this.
Because you would know the glory of the falafel pita, and you would not be able to wait another minute before actively trying to bring one into your life.
When I was first daydreaming about starting a street food series, I was trying to come up with a simple way to define what ‘street food’ is exactly. At first I thought maybe it had to be edible using only your hands, but that didn’t stack up.
After a little thinking I realised that the one thing thatall street food shares, is that you have to eat it in this hunched-over, ass-out position. You know the one – elbows out, feet planted wide, leaning forward, kind of like you’re swinging a baseball bat, but in reality you’re just stuffing your face. This is the kind of food that can and will desperately try to stain your shirt, and that’s why we love it – the saucier the better.
A Falafel Pita is like the definition of street food. It’s crunchy, soft, tangy, pickled, steaming, salty, bitter, and sweet all in one mouthful. It’s completely customizable, another mark of good street food.
Don’t like pickles? Leave ’em off! Spice up your life with a little harissa or hot sauce, throw in a few chunks of fried eggplant, or some pickled chillies if you like. The only important thing is the falafel itself.
Whether you’re in Cairo, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Beirut, Paris, New York or London, the key to a good falafel is the falafel. It’s got to be majorly crunchy and crisp on the outside, and totally tender and light on the inside. The balance between the chickpeas, the spices, the herbs has to be just right.
And once those tender little fritters are wrapped in a downy-soft pita, stuffed with crisp salad, pickles and a thick slathering of tahini sauce? Well, then you know how good a falafel is, and you’d understand why you need to get to the store right now to pick up some chickpeas. GO ON! GO!
- 1 cup (250g) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
- ½ large onion
- ¼ cup fresh coriander (cilantro)
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp dried coriander
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2-3 tbsp all purpose flour
- Oil, for frying
- Chopped salad of equal parts tomato, cucumber and red onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice
- Pickle spears
- Fresh mint
- Sauce of equal parts tahini, yoghurt, lemon juice and a pinch of salt
- Pita bread
- Place the chickpeas into a bowl, and cover with at least 2 inches of water. Leave overnight (at least 8 hours).
- When you're ready to eat, drain the chickpeas and place them into the bowl of a food processor with all the remaining falafel ingredients.
- Pulse the mixture until the chickpeas are chopped very small - about the size of sprinkles. To test the mixture, turn off the processor, remove the lid and take a spoonful of the mixture. If you squeeze it in your hand it should hold together in a ball, but will collapse if you poke it. If the mixture does not hold together add a little more flour, or if it is too dry, a little water, scrape down the processor and pulse again, until you get a texture that will hold together.
- Prepare your salad and sauce at this point, so they're ready to go when the falafel are hot.
- Pour just under 2 inches of oil into a high sided frying pan, and place over a medium heat and bring up to 350F/180C.
- Scoop tablespoonfuls of falafel mixture, and form them carefully into balls - this is a bit easier if you wet your hands every couple of spoons.
- When the oil is hot, carefully add a few falafel at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan. Cook the falafel until they are golden brown and cooked through, at least 3 minutes all told. Cut one open to ensure they are cooked all the way through.
- When all the falafel are cooked, serve them stuffed generously into a pita, with plenty of salad, pickle spears, fresh mint, and tahini sauce. Apply to face!
I waannnnttt one!
i’m on board! and probably going out to buy the missing ingredients ASAP. yum!
You are speaking my language! The city I grew up had a super-famous place called the Falafel Drive-In. It literally only served falafel sandwiches and banana milkshakes, and it was (is) life-changing. It is the falafel by which I judge all others now. And YES, I know the posture of which you speak…I totally assume that position when snarfing a falafel. :)
Street food mondays are my favourites!! Could not agree with you more that street food = food that you just want to stuff yourselves with, without any care of how you look while you enjoy it = the best.
This is a combination of so many good things.
Added to my “to Do ” list!
Sarah, I just had my first falafel a few weeks ago and I loved it. Plus, anything in pitas is a win! Thanks for sharing.
My love for falafel knows no bounds. Have to try this one!!!
Street food at its finest! Love!
The first time I ever had falafel (probably a decade ago or so), I realized that I could be a vegetarian since vegetarian food tasted that good! Love this street food recipe!
Annnnnd I love you for this. I have a Greek place near my apartment, buuut I would much rather make this and eat it, ass out.
fun! As a child my mom made us eat vegetarian, and falafel was commonplace on our dinner table. But this – this looks waaay better than mom’s!
ooh – yes please!!!
Oh man! These look so good! I am suddenly STARVING. Seriously.
Ps. Love the ass-out, street food position reference, LOL!
Hehe, just callin’ it like I see it!
Yes! This looks so perfect. I’ve been trying to find a good falafel that uses dried chickpeas and I love that it’s something I can start soaking in the morning and have ready for dinnerrrr! carazy in love with da street food.
The dried chickpeas are so important! I tried tons of recipes with canned or pre-cooked peas, and they were all way too gluey. One day, we shall stand ass-out together and eat street food in unison!
Definitely one of my fave street foods ever. The addition of gherkins had my mouth watering.
The gherkins are where it’s at, Mariana!
Heya Sarah! You are the sweetest! but I have to say you got it all wrong! the most important thing about Falafel Pita is the Pita! the pita has to be fluffy and even warm if possible…freshly baked is the best! it can’t be that dry and thin as those we buy from the supermarkets…it’s such a shame that we have to compromise on our pita here in the states…what do you say? :0)
Hey Tali – you’re so right! I have to agree with you, the pita is MUCHO importante. Fluffy, soft, freshly baked pita is where it’s at, and the store-bought version absolutely does not cut the mustard! Without that doughy, warm pita, your falafel will never get the chance to shine. But the falafel is still where my heart lies! Even if you’ve got the best pita in the world, nothing can save a dry, tasteless falafel! Needless to say, it’s a delicate balancing act.
So is there a brand of pita you could recommend? or do you make your own? the bread in the picture looks way more delicious than anything I can find at the average grocery.
I made my own Miss Amber! I found this recipe from The Kitchn to be a winner every time. http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-homemade-pita-bread-90844
Love me a crispy falafel!! I hate when they get all soft and soggy, these look eternally crisp and light!
For serial, great minds. I made this Sunday night, when it was too hot to think, and all i wanted was some streetfood from when I spent time in the middle east.
YES! Yes! I’m glad you added pickle spears — my favorite local falafel joint does that and the yelp reviewers are always like “EW PICKLES!” But this guy is legit and I for one think his adding pickles alongside crunchy, soft, aromatic falafel inside a chewy pita is heaven. Great work, you1
I once ate falafel in a fast food store, and i am afraid they did not taste as they are supposed to :( this sounds like a great recipe! Actually, I have some chickpeas left from the last time I made hummus, so I will use them for this recipe. btw, I love this idea of Street Food Monday, congratulations
Never had falafel before! Can’t wait to give it a try.
I hope you do Becca! I’m pretty confident it will win your heart.
You’re just plain killin’ it over here. Gosh. These look OUTstanding! Amazing photos, etc. etc. etc. xo
I bow down to YOU! Your photography tutorials have been absolutely invaluable to me. Thank you!
What I love most about falafel is the prevalence of cilantro flavor. I can have cilantro on everything!
I love the blue background you’ve been using for photos. It’s so lively :)
This looks delicious!! I can’t wait to fix it. Do you have the calorie information available? Thanks for sharing your recipe.
Thanks Adrienne! I’m sorry but I don’t have the calorie info! I hope you try ’em out anyway – they’re delicious. Sorry I couldn’t help!