What is Falafel?

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Falafel refers to a Middle-Eastern dish, which has been existing for centuries. This traditional dish, whose main ingredient is falafel balls, is popular in Israel as a street food. The traditional version of falafel balls is made with chickpeas, fava beans, or both. However, nowadays, most falafel balls are made with the use of chickpeas/garbanzo beans.

The process of making falafel balls starts by soaking the chickpeas and then grinding them. The grounded chickpeas are then seasoned with onions, garlic, scallions, as well as spices such as cumin, parsley, and coriander. After that, the seasoned mixture is made into balls and then cooked by deep-frying. In order to make perfectly cooked falafel balls, it is important to make sure that the oil is hot enough before submerging the balls. This ensures that the outer part becomes crispy, without the inside getting too oily.

These falafel balls are then wrapped in a pita shell and then added with cucumbers, tomatoes, and pickles. Sometimes, French fries are also added as well as shredded beets or eggplant salad. To add the final touches to the dish, the entire pita shell is drizzled with hummus, tahini sauce, and a spicy sauce if you like.

Falafel can be considered as a healthy dish because it is rich in nutrients such as protein, fibers, and folate. However, it is still recommended to eat this dish in moderation because some may contain a lot of sodium and can have around 750 calories. In order to regulate the amount of calories that you get from falafel pitas, it is advisable to choose the toppings carefully.

Although falafel is most commonly found in restaurants offering Mediterranean cuisine, it has also become popular in other countries’ restaurants. In New York City, there are also some street vendors who sell this dish. For those who cannot find a falafel joint in their area or those who are health conscious, it is recommended to just make this dish at home. In this way, the ingredients that will be added can be chosen carefully and the falafel balls may even be cooked in an oven, as a healthier alternative.

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