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What is falafel? And why you can’t go wrong with it!

You’ve probably heard of or seen this Middle Eastern food that’s widely consumed with a pita bread or a sandwich. 

You can even eat it on its own as a tasty replacement for meat. 

Curious about the falafel’s specifics? Here’s what you need to know about what’s in it and how you can eat it.

What is falafel?

Falafel is a ball made up of ground chickpeas or fava beans, sometimes a mixture of both, that is rolled into a ball and deep-fried. 

Falafel is usually round but can be flattened out like a patty as well. The best part about falafel is that it can be eaten on its own as a snack with a dip, or put into a pita or a sandwich.

You can also pair it with vegetables, salads, or on a meze tray.

What does falafel taste like?

Falafel tastes like a meatball made of vegetarian ingredients. And because it’s deep-fried, it has a slightly grainy texture. 

Whether the falafel is made of chickpeas or fava beans, these ingredients on their own don’t have a very distinct taste.

That’s why the taste of a falafel depends more on the other ingredients it is paired with, such as onions, spices, herbs, and lemon.

Falafel has a light-tasting filling with a crispy, easy to chew exterior. If you aren’t careful with how much the falafel is fried, though, it can end up soggy and oily, instead of crisp and tender.

Falafel is also often confused with the Greek falafel, known as revithkeftedes. 

However, the original falafel is not from Greece. The difference is that the chickpeas in these are boiled, whereas the chickpeas in falafel are soaked in water over several hours and then mixed with various spices. 

The spices used are also different, which creates an overall different taste between the two.

What is falafel made of?

What’s in a falafel? 

Falafel ingredients are mainly: ground chickpeas, fava beans, or a combination of both. 

Although there are slight differences in every recipe, these two core ingredients ensure that all kinds of falafel generally have the same taste. 

You can add herbs, cilantro, parsley, mint, or a variety of other ingredients to enhance the taste.

Is falafel vegan?

Yes, falafel is a vegan dish. It is made with vegan ingredients such as spices, herbs, garlic, flour, vegetables. It also needs oil for the frying process. 

The most common spices are cumin, coriander seeds, chili, salt, pepper, and sumac. On the other hand, the most common vegetables are onions, carrots, leeks, and celery. 

Rest assured, none of these comprises non-vegan origins.

What to eat with falafel

Falafel is widely eaten as a falafel sandwich. 

However, it’s versatile and can be eaten in many ways. For example, you can have falafel burgers, falafel pizza, or eat the falafel alongside an assortment of fresh vegetables.

Pair your falafel with a salad and sauce, and you’ll notice that the flavors combine for a truly unique experience.

Another alternative is a falafel taco filled with sweet potatoes. If you want to keep everything vegetarian, you can have falafel served alongside avocado sauce or wrapped inside a pita with green sauce.

If you want to stick to traditional ways of eating falafel, serving it with hummus or tahini sauce is a good idea. You can serve falafel as either a light, fun snack, or add some hotter ingredients and make it more adventurous. 

Zhoug or tzatziki are good additions if you’re looking for just enough flavor and heat.

Is falafel served hot or cold?

Although it’s served both hot and cold, the best tasting falafel is always served warm. The warmth creates a tenderness mixed with just the right amount of crispiness and flavor. The herbs and spices also come to life and are more vibrant in a warm falafel.However, once it starts to cool, it starts to lose its flavor. It doesn’t taste as fresh, and it also becomes quite gritty and crumbly. When you’re serving falafel, make sure you or your guests are ready to sit down to eat right away before its unique flavor is lost.

The bottom line

Hopefully, you now know a little more about this vegetarian meatball-like food. Whether you serve it on its own, with sauce, in a sandwich, or with pita—you can’t go wrong with falafel!

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