Have you ever tried falafel before? I will be 100% honest and say I never tried falafel (nor knew what it was) until I went vegan! (I know, I was living under a rock 😅)
I remember the first time I tried it, I had bought one of those pre-prepared versions you can get in those packs from the supermarket, and I must admit it was a little dry. It absorbed all the saliva in my mouth so I was drinking water by the bucket-load just swallow it. This experience put me off falafel for a while and it wasn’t until a year or so later that I actually fell in love with this incredible food.
My friends and I were out to lunch, and I had ordered this vegan Mediterranean Buddha bowl, which, it turns out, had come with falafel. I was unsure about it, but my worries were soon put to rest, because it turned out to be a-maaa-zing! They’d made it fresh on the premises so it wasn’t at all dry and crumbly like it’s predecessor had been, and the flavours were incredible! (It was like a party in ma mouth 😜😋).
Ever since then I’ve been hooked on falafel, and am now very careful about avoiding store-bought versions. Since chickpeas are wonderfully high in iron and protein (along with many other nutrients), I wanted to include more of it in my diet, so I went in search of a good falafel recipe I could whip together in my kitchen at home! My favourite one I’ve come across is this one by Eating Bird Food, as it’s almost a recreation of the exact Buddha bowl I had my second time trying falafel! Every time I have it my mind is filled with the mems from that day 😍 Who else had flashbacks when they eat certain foods, or better yet, when you smell a familiar fragrance or scent?!
This plant-based meal has quickly worked its way up to being one of my go-to’s. It contains all the good things like baby spinach, brown rice, purple cabbage, baked falafel, and a variety of delicious sauces to top it all off.
What is Falafel?
I get asked this a lot, and the short answer is simply… chickpeas! The long answer? I like to make my falafel with chickpeas, chopped onions, fresh garlic, fresh parsley, lemon juice, and a variety of spices. The end result is a high protein, iron-rich, vegan, flavour bomb!
What Do You Serve Falafel With?
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to what to pair falafel with. There are soooo many flavour combos; for instance I like to eat falafel on their own, with hummus or tahini sauce, in a gluten-free sandwich, on top of a salad… the options are limitless!
How to Make Falafel
I love creating a type of Buddha bowl when I make falafel as the flavour components just make it NEXT LEVEL good. If you’re short on time you can pick up pre-made sauces and dips from your local store rather than making your own. I’ll sometimes pick up a pack of pre-cooked brown or wild rice and just heat it up and it’s ready in 2 minutes! It’s a total time-saver for busy weeknights.
I usually prefer to make the sauces and dips myself as usually pre-made versions have additives and preservatives in them and it’s also easier just to make my own too rather than search for hours in the shops looking for say, a vegan version of tzatziki (and it doesn’t take long to make anyway, plus is heaps of fun to create!).
Before we get started in learning how to make these super delicious falafel – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my email newsletter at the bottom of the page to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips I share!
If you want to make and share, please tag me on Instagram @simplynaturalnessa or use the hashtag #simplynaturalnessa! I’d love to know how it went for you! It is such a joy for me to see your creations and recipes!
- 1 x 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 3 cloves fresh garlic
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp olive or avocado oil
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3 tbsp rice flour
- Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Lay down a baking sheet on your baking tray, so it’s ready for later.
- Add chickpeas, onion, garlic, oil, parsley, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, salt and cayenne into a food processor and pulse until just combined. You don’t want to over-process the mixture or you’ll end up with hummus. Plus, having a few chunks of chickpeas gives the falafel a nice texture. Stir in baking soda and rice flour. At this point your mixture should be holding together quite well.
- Scoop spoonfuls of mixture out and form into small patties; you should get about 15. Place on prepped baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, then flip the patties over and bake for another 10-12 minutes or until falafel are golden and cooked through. (Recipe by Eating Bird Food)
If you’d like to make the falafel bowl I mentioned earlier, then continue with the following recipes. Enjoy!
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas with reserved cooking liquid or 15 oz can of chickpeas
- 3 tbsp tahini
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2–3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2–3 tbsp reserved cooking liquid or water
- Toppings: olive oil, cooked chickpeas, cayenne pepper and/or paprika
- If you’re using dried chickpeas, you’ll want to start with 1 cup of dried chickpeas, soak them overnight in cold water. Discard the soaking liquid and add to a large pot with 6 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 40-60 minutes or until chickpeas are very tender, but not mushy. Remove any chickpea skins that have floated to the top. Drain, rinse with cold water and peel the skin from any chickpeas that didn’t lose their skin during the cooking process.
- If using canned chickpeas, you’ll need to drain and rinse them. Remove skin from chickpeas, following the instructions above.
- In a food processor, add the lemon juice and tahini. Process for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of your food processor bowl and add chickpeas, olive oil, garlic and salt. Process until smooth (about 1 -2 minutes more) gradually adding reserved cooking liquid or water as desired to thin dip and scraping down sides of the processor bowl as needed. Once the hummus is completely smooth, taste and season as needed.
- Transfer to a bowl for serving. Top with an extra drizzle of olive oil, cooked chickpeas, cayenne pepper and/or paprika. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. (Recipe by Eating Bird Food)
Vegan Tzatziki Recipe
- 1/2 large cucumber (unpeeled + finely grated // organic when possible)
- 1 1/2 cups coconut yoghurt (be sure to use the brands of full-fat coconut yoghurt and that contain live & active cultures of probiotics for best results)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill (or 2 tbsp dried dill per 1/4 cup fresh)
- 1 pinch each Himalayan or sea salt and black pepper (plus more to taste)
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (optional // for flavour and richness)
- Finely grate cucumber with the skin on – should yield about 1 cup. Then, either set in a fine-mesh strainer set over a small mixing bowl or transfer to a clean, thin towel and squeeze out excess moisture. The remaining amount should be about 1/4 cup.
- Add coconut yoghurt to a large mixing bowl and add strained cucumber, garlic, dill, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil (optional). Stir to combine.
- Taste and adjust flavour as needed, adding more salt for overall flavour, garlic for zing, lemon for acidity, or dill for extra herb flavour.
- Serve immediately, or store in the fridge (where it will thicken) for up to 5 days, sometimes longer depending on the freshness of the yoghurt. (Recipe by Minimalist Baker)
Israeli Salad Recipe
- 2 cups diced cherry tomatoes
- 2 cups diced English cucumber
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper (optional)
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped mint
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1–2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Himalayan/sea salt, to taste
- Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Season with salt to taste.
- Keep in the fridge until ready to serve. (Recipe by Eating Bird Food)
Falafel Bowl Recipe
- 4 cups chopped baby spinach
- 2 cups cooked brown rice or cauliflower rice
- 1 cup chopped purple cabbage
- 1 batch baked falafel
- 2 cups Israeli salad (comprised of finely diced tomato, onion, cucumber, and bell or chilli peppers)
- 1/2 cup hummus
- 1/2 cup vegan tzatziki
- 1/4 cup pickled onions (optional)
- Tahini dressing to taste
- Prep all falafel, Israeli salad, hummus, tzatziki, and tahini dressing by following recipes above.
- Combine bowls by adding 1 cup chopped baby spinach, 1/2 cup brown rice, and 1/4 cup chopped purple cabbage to each bowl.
- Top each bowl with 3-4 baked falafel patties, 1/2 cup Israeli salad, 2 tbsp hummus, 2 tbsp tzatziki, 1 tbsp pickled onions, if using. Serve bowls with tahini dressing on the side so each person can add the dressing to taste.
Lots of Love,