Is there anybody out there who doesn’t love to indulge in a portion of freshly fried falafel?
Okay, there probably is. But we’ve never met that person.
It’s a perfect go-to food – versatile, wholesome and satisfying.
Whether it’s enjoyed as a street food snack or as a meze dish in restaurants, it rarely disappoints.
Along with hummus, falafel is one of those foods that, to many of us, is synonymous with Middle Eastern cuisine.
Even if you have never tried falafel, you’ve no doubt heard of it.
And now, thankfully, falafel is becoming increasingly popular here in Turkey…
Falafel In Turkey
In Istanbul, numerous falafel fast food joints serve up eat-in or takeaway falafel snacks, either by the portion or as a dürüm (wrap).
Restaurants specialising in the cuisine of the Middle East will serve their own falafel recipes.
Here in Fethiye, falafel hasn’t really made it onto the foodie map – yet.
We can’t help but feel it’s just a matter of time before it’s also a restaurant and fast food staple here, too.
Motif Restaurant along Çalış Beach/Calis Beach has falafel as a meze.
Most of their dishes are centred around South East Turkish cuisine so falafel has a rightful (and appreciated by us) place on the menu.
In the photo above, we were enjoying a portion of homemade falafel along with Gavurdağı salatası (a Gaziantep speciality) and aubergine salad.
And, online, we’ve seen falafel described in Turkish as nohut köftesi (chickpea balls/patties), Halep köftesi (Aleppo balls/patties) and Lübnan Köftesi (Lebanese balls/patties).
Note the word köfte in those Turkish language descriptions. We addressed this in our classic köfte recipe article.
On menus, köfte is so often translated as ‘Turkish meatballs.’
This can prove very confusing when you come across dishes like falafel (nohut köftesi) and mercimek köftesi (lentil balls/patties), both of which can be enjoyed by both vegetarians and vegans.
Not a morsel of meat in sight!
How To Make Falafel
It’s only recently that we started to make falafel at home.
For my part, there was an element of the unknown about it. Perhaps a special knack was needed to make a successful falafel?
So many reviews I’ve seen online written by people who had tried a falafel recipe, only for it to go horribly wrong at the deep-frying stage.
Lovingly-made chickpea balls disintegrating into mush.
If homemade falafel was going to be a disaster waiting to happen, did I really want to bother?
Not just the lack of falafel for the effort but also the cleaning up of the oily mush, afterwards. No, thanks.
Well, as you can see from the photo above, it needn’t have been a worry. No need to fear the falafel!
As restaurants and eateries closed their doors due to the pandemic and we were forced to stay indoors, that was as good a time as any to experiment with various new dishes.
And homemade falafel was one of those dishes.
This falafel recipe works.
Falafel Recipe Tips
Follow these falafel recipe tips for a tasty falafel that’s crispy and crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside.
- Dried chickpeas – this is the key to a successful falafel recipe. Use dried chickpeas and soak them overnight (or for at least 12 hours) in plenty of water. Tinned / canned chickpeas are too soft and wet. Your dried chickpeas will roughly double in size as they soak so don’t worry if it doesn’t look like you’ve got enough at the beginning.
- Baking powder – a teaspoon of baking powder will give your falafel a lighter, more airy centre.
- Generous with the herbs and spices – our falafel recipe is generous with the herbs and spices because we find the chickpeas can really handle this. They absorb the strong flavours.
- Refrigerate – We plan ahead with our homemade falafel recipe so that we have time to refrigerate both the mixture and and the falafel balls before deep frying. This helps them to keep their shape.
- Freeze – Can you freeze falafel? Yes you can freeze the raw mixture. So, the good news is, if this falafel recipe looks a tad time consuming, you can freeze your mixture once you’ve made it. That means, next time you can make a big batch and the next time you want to eat falafel, you can thaw the falafel balls coook them quickly and easily.
How To Serve Your Homemade Falafel
It’s up to you how you enjoy your homemade falafel.
Eat it as part of a meze selection or make a meal of it by having it as the star of the show as we’ve done for this article.
The main thing to remember is to serve your falafel immediately.
Otherwise your crisp, crunchy outer coasting will go soft. Golden brown, crispy falafel is what we’re looking for.
Homemade Falafel With Flatbreads & Cacık
We love our falafel with turşu (well, what’s a meal without pickled vegetables?), homemade cacık (light and refreshing in an otherwise filling meal) and rocket leaves.
We then stuff it into our homemade flatbreads – balloon bread would be great – and drizzle with fresh lemon juice.
Shop-bought pita bread or lavaş will also be fine.
Tahini and chickpeas are a perfect match (hummus, of course) so if you don’t want to use cacık as a dressing, baba ganoush will work perfectly.
We also like the tang of pomegranate molasses – nar ekşisi – drizzled over the top.
Homemade Falafel Salad With Yoghurt & Tahini Dressing
Falafel can be very filling so if you don’t want to pair it with bread, a falafel salad is a lighter – and no less tasty – option.
Because the falafel is so tasty, you only need a simple salad.
The salad in the photo is lettuce, spring onion, peppers and Turkish pickled vegetables.
For the yoghurt and tahini dressing, we do a 2:1 mix of yoghurt and tahini. 2 tbsp of yoghurt to 1 tbsp of tahini.
A drizzle of olive oil and the juice of one lemon mixed in.
Drizzle over the top of your falafel salad and tuck in. Afiyet olsun!
Okay, let’s make falafel!
Our Homemade Falafel Recipe
Now you know all of the above, it really is just a case of taking your wonderfully fresh and tasty ingredients and blitzing them in a food processor. Easy!
Homemade Falafel Recipe
- Large saucepan
- Food processor
- 250 grams chickpeas dried
- 1 small onion peeled & roughly chopped
- 5 cloves garlic peeled & roughly chopped
- 1 bunch parsley washed & long stems removed
- 1 bunch mint leaves only
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons hot chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- salt & pepper to season
- ½ litre sunflower oil for deep frying
- Add your dried chickpeas to a bowl, cover generously with cold water and leave to soak overnight. They will roughly double in size.
- Drain your chickpeas into a colander and pat dry.
- Now add your chickpeas along with the rest of your ingredients to a food processor and start to blend. The falafel mixture will stick to the sides so you will need to keep pushing it back down to make sure it is all blended together.
- Keep blending until you have a falafel mixture that resembles a fine grain paste.At this point, if you like, you can place the mixture in fridge for an hour just to make it a bit easier to form your falafel balls afterwards. This is not essential so don't worry if you don't have time.
- Take a small amount of falafel mixture and form into a ball about the size of a golf ball. The paste will not be very firm but it is easy to form the patties if you are gentle.
- Carefully place each falafel ball onto a large plate and keep going until you have used all the falafel mixture. You should end up with 18-20 falafel balls.
- Place the plate in the refrigerator and leave to chill for at least one hour. This will make your falafel more firm for when you come to cook them.
- When you want to cook your falafel, heat your sunflower oil in a large saucepan (alternatively, we use a wok). Use enough oil to submerge your falafel.To check if the oil is hot enough, take a small piece of falafel and drop it into the oil. If it sizzles and rises to the top, you can start to add your falafel balls.
- Carefully add your falafel to the hot oil, one at a time. We use our fingers but you can use a spoon for this if you like. Deep fry your falafel in batches of 5 or 6 so as not to crowd the pan.
- Cook your falafel for up to 5 minutes until it is dark golden and crisp on the outside.
- Remove the falafel from the oil and place on kitchen paper to allow the excess oil to drain.
- Serve your falafel immediately as a meze, as a salad or in flat breads.
- As with all of our recipes, for this falafel recipe, calories are meant as a rough guide only. We have calculated them based on the falafel absorbing around 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil.
- Homemade falafel can be made ahead of time. It will keep in the fridge for a day or two or you can freeze it and thaw it when you are ready to use it.
- If you want to shallow fry or oven bake your homemade falafel, you can shape the mixture into flat, rounded patties rather than balls. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side. For oven-baked falafel, preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius, brush your falafel patties with oil and bake for 25-30 minutes, turning them over half way through to ensure that crispy outer.
- Feel free to experiment with the fresh herbs. Rather than mint, lots of people use coriander or dill. We find the flavour of the coriander disappears, however, so we use it as a garnish once the falafel is cooked.
And that’s our classic falafel recipe.
Now all that’s left for you to do is to serve it up and enjoy it.
Homemade Falafel Recipe – Afternotes
- We have added our homemade falafel recipe to our list of Turkish recipes as it is often made in areas such as the Hatay Province.
- Homemade falafel is also a healthy recipe for vegetarians and vegans.
- Naturally, we have added some Turkish meze plates to accompany our falafel.
- If you want to cook or prepare Turkish meals at home, check out our choice of Turkish recipes.