It's safe to say that we are all familiar with falafel. And, it has quickly become one of the most popular Middle Eastern dishes in the UK. The aroma and warmth of the spices in proper falafel is good enough to carry your senses far far away and it can be paired with so many tasty sides to make a sumptuous mezze, perfect for a weekend feast. So we thought we'd share an easy falafel recipe to brighten up your menu at home.
While falafel is a hugely popular and usually fried street-food, this recipe is way healthier as the falafel is baked in the oven. It's just as tasty, but lighter, and this version comes complete with herby bulgar wheat salad, a tahini yoghurt dip and crispy pitta bread to serve, so keep scrolling for a meal to remember.
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Is falafel vegan?
Falafel in itself is vegan, and it's a great option for vegans too as it's full of protein (chickpea power) and it's filling, too. What you'll need to sub in the following recipe is the feta cheese and yoghurt for vegan alternatives, which are sure to still give a delicious result.
- With special thanks to Gousto for this falafel recipe.
Oven-baked falafel recipe
This makes 10 falafel which will serve two as a main meal, or 3–4 for a snack or mezze style dish.
- 1 lemon
- 1 red onion
- 75g bulgar wheat
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- 10g mint
- 10g parsley
- 1/2 a cucumber
- 1tsp ground cumin
- 80g natural yoghurt
- 1 can of chickpeas (drained)
- 2 pittas
- 100g feta cheese
- 10g sesame seeds
- 15g tahini
- 10g plain flour
- Extra virgin olive oil
Note, you'll need a food processor or blender handy.
1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/ 200°C (fan)/ 425°F/ Gas 7.
2. Peel and roughly shop 2/3 of the onion, finely slicing the rest. Rinse the chickpeas and roughly chop the parsley.
3. Cut the lemon into quarters, then add the juice of two of these wedges to your blender or food processor along with the chickpeas, cumin, chopped onion and the crushed garlic clove.
4. Add half the sesame seeds, 1 tbsp flour, a strong pinch of salt and half the chopped parsley before pulsing everything into a smooth paste – this is your falafel mix.
5. Next, fill and boil the kettle, then line a baking tray with baking paper and some olive oil.
6. Sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds on the tray, then start shaping the falafel mix into 10 (depending on how much you make) falafel-shaped balls by hand.
7. Put them on the tray, rolling them in the sesame seeds until covered equally before covering generously in olive oil again.
8. Put them in the oven and cook until golden for about 25 mins.
9. Meanwhile, add the bulgar wheat to a saucepan with the boiled water and a pinch of salt, bringing it to the boil and cooking for 10–15 minutes until cooked. Drain once tender but with a little bite (similar to pasta al dente)
10. As this cooks, mix the tahini into the yoghurt with the juice of another lemon wedge and combine to make your tahini sauce.
11. Cut the pitta into triangles and add them to the falafel tray for the last 5 minutes of cooking time until they are also golden.
14. For the salad, cut the cucumber lengthways and finely slice, then remove and chop the mint leaves also. Chop the feta, then combine with the cucumber, half the chopped mint and remaining sliced red onion with a good glug of olive oil.
15. Finally, add the leftover parsley and lemon juice to the bulgar wheat and stir, before serving up the baked falafel, crunchy salad, fresh bulgur, a dollop of tahini sauce all with the pitta on the side – beautiful – and enjoy.
Make mine a mezze
The above makes a wonderful midweek meal, but how about making your own falafel as part of a mezze? A mezze is a selection of small dishes served together and is commonly served all the way from Greece to Iran, with places like Lebanon, Israel and Turkey all having their own signature dishes.
A good mezze needs a balance of textures and flavours and most will include a meaty or protein based element like kofta or these tasty falafel. For a really easy mezze, try a spread of the following:
- Hummus – make your own but we won't judge you for including a supermarket version
- Tabbouleh – this herb-rich salad is perfect for freshening the palate between dishes
- Olives – pick your favourites and serve in a small bowl alongside everything else
- Pita or flatbreads – homemade flatbreads and pretty easy, but however you get them, a bready side is a must
- Chermoula kofta – this recipe brings a taste of North Africa, that pairs so well with neighbouring flavours from the Mediterranean coast
- Baba ganoush – this delicious aubergine dish serves a similar job to hummus, but is a must on a Levantine mezze