Traditional Falafal


If you walk down any street in Saudi you will most likely find a shop selling Falafal. While living in the states many years ago, we always made falafal, then when we moved to Saudi we just ran to the corner store and bought some. It was sold in a sandwich or plain, piled high in a little paper bag! Yumm hot and fresh. In recent months the kids have been asking about making Falafal and so I went back to my old recipe and tried it. We made it several times to make sure it was just right and now Falafal is a must have around our household.  I have taken to baking most things these days but I still fry Falafal for the kids. I have also made this new recipe and placed it in the oven for baking, so both are listed.

* This recipe does need planning so it isn’t something you can make in an hour or two!


3 cups dry garbanzo beans

2-3 bunches parsley, depending on size of bunch

1 small onion

6 garlic cloves

2  tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

dash Cayenne pepper

1 Tbs. baking powder

2  tsp. salt–estimate

4 Tbs. flour


Place garbanzo beans in a bowl and cover with plenty of cold water, soak for 8-12 hours. When they have finished soaking, drain the water and rinse the beans well, drain the water again.  Wash and chop fresh parsley into big chunks. Chop onion and prepare garlic.

I use my grinder attachment to my mixer. Put the garbanzo beans, parsley, onions and garlic through the grinder twice. Mix with a spoon and add spices, baking powder and flour. Mix spices in very well and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Deep frying

Heat oil in a pan as you would for deep frying other foods such as potatoes. There is a special little kitchen implement that is used for forming falafal but you can just roll it into a ball and flatten slightly if desired.  Fry Falafal until brown and cooked. Do not overheat oil so that the Falafal is too brown and not cooked. Remove from oil to plate lined with napkins or whatever you would use when frying potatoes.


Little tool for forming Falafal. The flat bottom piece is for smoothing it out and packing it down.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread a light coating of olive oil on baking tray. Place your formed Falafal onto tray, brush lightly with olive oil. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes on each side, turning once. Oven temperatures vary so keep an eye on them and the cooking time.

Falafal is usually served in a sandwich with pickles and french fries. It also has a lovely yogurt tahini sauce.

Yogurt sauce

1 cup plain yogurt

4 Tbs. Tahini

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tb. lemon juice

2 cloves garlic

Place ingredients for sauce in blender and mix until smooth.

When we make our sandwiches we microwave the bread for a few seconds so it is more flexible. Spread a spoon of yogurt sauce on bread, add a few fries and pickle slices,  break pieces of cooled falafal up and onto bread. Roll bread up and enjoy!