Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

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Falafel Gyro 4Don’t you dare close your computer window right now just because you were scared off by “falafel” in the title.  In fact, I am begging you to try this recipe before you write it off.  Some of you are already familiar with falafel and love it.  But, I know many of you have never heard of it, or you’ve heard of it and think “ewww, gross, what is that!?”

I was that terrified person once.  In fact, I remember when my brother-in-law was moving a few years ago, he was purging a bunch of food in his house where we ended up with some of it.  One of the items was a box of falafel mix.  I tossed it in the back of our pantry until I discovered it again way past its expiration date.  I had no idea what falafel was, and I wasn’t going to try something with such a funny name. It went in the garbage.

Fast forward to our time in California where I grew very fond of Middle Eastern food, thanks to this little hole-in-the-wall gem. Now we live away from it and I can’t seem to find anywhere comparable in Mississippi.  Instead of wallowing in my dispair ;), I am taking it as an opportunity to learn how to make more of this type of cuisine in my own home.
Falafel Gyro 2Falafel is made up of ground chick-peas (or fava beans) mixed with other ingredients such as parsley, scallions, garlic and other spices.  Traditionally deep-fried, in this recipe we lightly fry them in a thin layer of oil.  They can be shaped in round balls or discs.  I like the disc option so when frying I only need to flip it once.

Believe it or not, this is an excellent choice for a daytime lunch or a quick weeknight meal. Whip up the yogurt sauce (which is extraordinary!) and let it chill while assembling the falafels, which only consists of throwing the ingredients in a food processor, forming into discs and frying.  Simple as that!  Of course, you will also need to slice up your tomatoes and cucumbers, but who can’t do that in 30 seconds flat?  😉

*Side note #1:  The pita bread pictured is indeed homemade, however, I am not yet ready to post the recipe as I haven’t quite perfected it yet (even after three times of trying the same recipe).  Soon, though! 🙂

*Side note #2:  I’ve included this in the Appetizers category because I think the falafel with the yogurt sauce would make quite an impression as a starter course or served at a party.

Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 3 falafel (1/2 pita)

Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

    For the Spicy Yogurt Sauce:
  • 1 container (6 oz) plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or grated
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • For the Falafel:
  • 2 cans (15.5 oz each) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 pitas, halved
  • 1 to 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
For the Spicy Yogurt Sauce:

In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, cayenne and salt. Cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the Falafel:

Heat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Process the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, garlic, scallions, flour, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper in a food processor until fully incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Form into 12 falafel balls or discs.

Heat a 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat. Fry half of the falafel at a time, flipping once (about 2 to 3 minutes per side). It might take a little longer if shaped as round balls since you will have more "sides" to brown. As discs, there are only two sides, so less time needed. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining falafels.

Serve three falafels in or with a pita half along with tomato, cucumber and the Spicy Yogurt Sauce.

Source: Family Circle, April 2012


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  1. I love falafel and always order a side of it when I go to my local Lebanese place, along with the Kofta I’m a very happy chappy.
    Great post!!

  2. Oo I love falafel! I will have to make it and convince my boyfriend to try it. Love your blog!

  3. This looks really interesting! I’ve never tried a falafel recipe before but this looks easy and pretty darn good!

  4. You know, I’ve not done that much with chickpeas – I think this dish would be a great start. Always looking for a different vegetarian meal to throw into our rotation!

  5. Falafel is amazing!

  6. I’m sure it doesn’t compare to the place in CA or your recipe, but if you are in Memphis, try the Pita Stop sometime. Great falafel and chicken shawarma and it’s cheap. They are on Park Ave next to Burger King in East Memphis.

  7. I adore a good falafel! Yours looks so yummy!

  8. Have you tried Aladdin? I haven’t ever been there (not very picky-kid friendly) but I’ve heard wonderful things about it. I know that they have falafel on their menu. I’m dying to try it one day! We should meet there one day and try it together!

  9. This looks so fabulous! I just fell in love with falafel last week and I can’t wait to try your take on it.

  10. These falafel are the best! I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out great. I just wish I could bake them instead of frying them to make them healthier, but then they probably wouldn’t taste as yummy and also not be as crisp.

  11. Just made the spicy yogurt sauce, as written for my family and a version without the cayenne for me. I make lots of things with chickpeas but this time I was thinking ‘easy dinner’ and bought the falafel from Costco. Guess what, it’s not that good— has the texture of dried out bread. So, blog readers, take the plunge and make your own, I plan to next time. And Alicia, yes, you can certainly make baked falafel, there are lots of recipes out there.

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