Dish Spotlight: Falafel

This fried chickpea patty is a delicious Arab dish that is easy to make, despite its complicated name. This worldly treat has been enjoyed for centuries and is rising in popularity in the United States. The patties are made from pureed chickpeas with spices such as cumin, parsley and cayenne pepper, and then are deep fried to create a crisp coating. Falafel is typically served in a pita with lettuce, tomato, onions and a tahini-based or tzatziki sauce. It can also be served atop a salad, alone as an appetizer or as street-food style snack.

This dish is believed to have been created in Egypt with a fava bean base. A common theory is that Christian Egyptians ate the dish as a meat substitute during lent, but the history of the dish is uncertain. The dish is rather controversial in parts of the Middle East. Palestinians and Israelis have fought over claim of the dish, creating an outright food war. Although there may be a tumultuous background, it is easy to see why both nations want to call this delicious dish their own. The dish is so iconic in the region that Egyptian McDonalds even serve a McFalafel.

Aside from being deep fried, falafel is rather nutritious. The patties are high in soluble fiber, complex carbohydrates and protein, as well as antioxidant packed herbs and spices. The dish has become a popular meat alternative for vegetarians due to its hearty texture and high protein content. For a lighter version, falafel can be baked in the oven. Be sure to flip the falafels half way through the cook time to ensure that they cook evenly.

Although the dish may sound complicated, it is actually rather simple. After you can combine the ingredients in a food processor, shape them into patties or balls and fry them. It’s that easy. Try a deep-fried traditional falafel recipe to get the full experience of this wonderfully exotic dish.


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