What Is Falafel And Is It Vegan?

It's a snack that can be seen at every restaurant and street stall across the Middle East. Falafel is a regional favorite that is so beloved it is claimed as a national dish by Israelis, Palestinians, Lebanese, and Yemeni. But History Today says no matter what these nations say, falafel is almost certain to have come from an Egyptian kitchen. 

Because there are no records which contain a description of a falafel, History Today says we can only assume that it was not first enjoyed by the Pharaohs, because vegetable oil would have been too expensive to use. Instead, falafels are believed to have come about in the late 1800s, when British soldiers who missed their Indian vegetable croquettes asked their Egyptian cooks to prepare something similar, but by using local ingredients. Falafels are believed to have come from Alexandria, where they subsequently spread across the country.

Falafels today are usually round and are deep-fried. They are both vegetarian and vegan because they are made entirely out of plant-based ingredients: chickpeas or fava beans are blended with spices to make the patty, which is either served neat, or stuffed in a sandwich and served along with lettuce, tomato, and tahini inside pita bread. It can also be served with hummus and tahini as an appetizer (via The Spruce Eats).

Falafels can be made with chickpeas or fava beans

The type of bean you might use to make a falafel will depend on where the falafel recipe comes from. Chickpeas are the main ingredient of choice in the U.S., as well as in Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Palestine. Fava beans, either alone or combined with chickpeas, are usually used in Egypt (via Your Vegan Journey).

To make falafels you only need to mix a cup of chickpeas (or fava beans) which are either canned or soaked overnight with onions and spices, including coriander, parsley, and cumin. The mixture is then passed through a food processor and minced, before it is shaped into a golf ball or a small puck and then deep-fried. No binders like eggs are used to keep the chickpea patty together, because chickpeas contain their own protein, which allows the patty or golf ball to hold its shape.