How do you make falafel?

I was asked to make some falafel patties for a luncheon and I have the ingredients and have looked at recipes. I was just wondering, if you have made them and they came out good what should I be doing to insure success? And can I bake them in the oven, or do they have to be deep fried? Thank you.

I have had not much luck in the oven or shallow-frying them trying to replicate street-vendor-style falafel balls – they crumble too easy to be shallow-fried and they aren’t the same texturally or in flavor when oven-baked. Best to consider these products a separate entity.

If you know enough about deep-frying, and have the space and time to cook larger quantities of food, you should do that. I believe the guys in the street carts and the tiny store fronts only cook a few falafel balls at a time – using oil at the right temperature which has certainly been well broken-in by the time your order is up. This doesn’t seem the way to go for a luncheon.

That said, patties are absolutely tasty when baked in the oven – after all, just look at the ingredients – if not the same as street-style deep-fried balls, and maybe by coating with fat, pre-heating their cores, and going with a high oven temperature you could make them really stellar.

In my experience, shallow-frying works better for patties than for balls. I’ve always liked that shape better, so shallow-frying it’s been.

To avoid having to serve falafel crumble, consider choosing a recipe that contains a binder (eggs or flour), and fry a test patty to check seasoning, texture etc. One of my favourite tried and true recipes also contains couscous or bulgur wheat.

Well, I made a test recipe with egg white, a bit of flour, and baking powder thrown in with the chickpeas, onion and garlic. Made little patties and shallow fried in 1/2" oil. They held together pretty well and tasted good. But the kitchen - what a mess! I guess it’s one of those things like Chinese food that you’re better off buying from a restaurant! I’m going to try oven baking the little I have left over tomorrow.

It’s been about 20 years, but the best falafel I ever had was home-made from a recipe in the Moosewood cookbook. It didn’t look anything like Greek restaurant falafel, it was in chickpea-colored patties which I believe were fried in a little oil.

The pita and tzatziki sauce were homemade too, so that probably helped. One of the best meals I ever had, ever.

ETA: link to recipe added. I’m not positive it’s the same recipe, but that’s what the blog said, so…proceed with caution.

Whenever I make falafel, I use a mix. The best one is this Lebanese brand which I can’t call to mind at the moment. I’ve also used Near East brand. The key, in any case, is to get the oil hot, hot, hot. If it’s not hot enough, the falafel just comes to pieces and makes an unholy mess. And it takes a surprisingly long time to get the oil up to temperature. The falafel should cook really quickly – just a minute or two to a side.

I think lots of the particulars, and culinary uniqueness depends on the Nationality or clloquialism of the Falafel. It depends where you are on the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, Dearborn, U.S.A., Toronto, Canada… or NY, NY. Jewish, Lebanese, or Syrian… Maybe even Indian… because there are garbanzo cake iterations in Indian Cuisine.

Paging Bill O’Reilly…