Tag Archives: Lebanese food

How to make real falafel

11 Sep


Although the origins of falafel may still be in dispute, there is agreement on one thing: these vegetarian fritters are extremely tasty and very nutritious! They are very popular and virtually available every where from fast food outlets to the common supermarket shelf.

So how does one make a “real” falafel? For starters, try to avoid the dry mix that is sold in the supermarket. Adding falafel powder to water may sound appealing but it won’t give you crunchy falafel with a soft centre. To achieve that, all you need is rehydrated chick peas, fava beans and a food processor. Make up a large batch, separate into smaller portions, freeze and you’ll never get have to go back to the dry mix version.

Similar to most Arabic dishes, ratios can be adjusted to suit personal taste. Ask 10 different falafel connoisseurs for their recipes, you’d probably get 10 different recipes. However, one thing that doesn’t change is how falafel is served: pickles, salad and tahini sauce wrapped in pita bread. Savoury pickles include beetroot stained turnip, gherkin, mild long chilies and cabbage. Salad is usually shredded lettuce, tomatoes and chopped parsley. Leftover falafel can also be served cold for breakfast also with pickles and labna. (thickened yoghurt)

Below is my falafel recipe which borrows heavily from mum’s kitchen. Included below are some photos of the family table on Father’s Day. Yes, dad wanted falafel, not barbecued lamb nor seafood!

You’ll need to begin this recipe the day before.

Ingredients (makes about 40-60 small falafel balls depending on size)

  • 500g of dried chick peas
  • 500g of dried fava beans
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped roughly
  • 1 bunch of coriander, chopped roughly
  • 2 large white onions, peeled and dice roughly
  • 2 tbsp of ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp of ground cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp of sesame seeds (optional)


Soak the dried chick peas and fava beans in cold water, overnight.


Place drained chick peas, fava beans, parsley, coriander and onion in a food processor then process until smooth. You may need to add a little water if the mixture is too thick, dry or grainy. (I went a step further and used a hand grinder, very laborious but the texture was unmatched)


Scrape out mixture into a bowl then add coriander, cumin, salt, pepper and sesame seeds (optional). Mix until spices until well incorporated then rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

Shape into small bit size patties and arrange on a plate then heat the oil, preferably canola or rice bran oil.


Deep fry or shallow fry about 6 at a time. (Don’t overcrowd the pan or they won’t flash fry and probably turn out soggy)


Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining falafel.



Leftover falafel may be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge when ready to use. Once defrosted, use within 2 days and don’t refreeze again as it is uncooked!

Father’s Day Lunch 2013

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I’ve used a 50/50 chick peas to fava beans ratio but the one above used a 70/30 ratio. Note the bright yellow tone from the higher chick pea content?

Takeaway Tabouleh

16 Jul

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You may be wondering why I’m blogging about Tabouleh when there are thousands, if not millions of recipes out there. The answer is partially that many don’t pass the authenticity test. Furthermore, there are those prohibited recipes that call for a food processor which can entice the lazy cook with the promise that it will taste just the same.

Whilst there are a set of rules to conform to when it comes to making Tabouleh, one is still able to showcase their individuality through varying the proportions according to personal taste. Personally, I prefer it with more mint and less burlgar, others with less mint and more burlgar. However, the ingredients that give Tabouleh its unique character should not be substituted with those that don’t feature in the purest form of this salad. While Cous Cous and curly leaf parsley score negatively on the authenticity test, they are acceptable in cases where bulgar and flat leaf aren’t readily available. I for one had to settle (cringing) for curly leaf parsley after committing to making Tabouleh prior to checking if flat leaf was available where I was at the time.

I have been gifted with countless opportunities since I started on solid foods to sample Tabouleh at restaurants perched high in the picturesque mountains of north Lebanon, to the middle eastern stronghold of Lakemba and Punchbowl in Sydney at places such as Jasmin and El Manara; not to mention at birthdays, weddings, picnics, barbecues and in the homes of aunts, uncles, grandmas, and of course in my mother’s kitchen. Each Tabouleh was mentally verified against my authenticity checklist, but I’m not one to spoil the party. Giving constructive feedback on food always places one at risk of snobbery (even when done in good faith).

The other reason behind this post? I was recently asked by a friend for my Tabouleh recipe. I didn’t have one. So, I followed up by making his newly arrived bride and he a tub of takeaway Tabouleh and promised to note down the recipe for a subsequent posting.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch of mint
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 4 -5 cos lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 3 tablespoons of bulgar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • salt

Wash the parsley, mint, tomatoes and lettuce.

Start by placing the bulgar at the base of your bowl.

Pour lemon juice over the bulgar: there’s no need to soak it in water if you have a couple of hours for the bulgar to soak up the lemon juice.

Peel and dice the onion, rub it with salt and then place in the bowl over the bulgar.

Dice the tomatoes and layer over onion.

Gather the parsley into small bunches and align stalks, place a rubber band at the base of the bunch and chop finely with a sharp knife.

Chop up the mint (including the stalks if they are soft and thin, as that’s where all the flavour lies) then layer over parsley.

Chop up the lettuce leaves into long thin strips and then cross ways, then layer over mint.

Add olive oil and toss through, taste and add more salt if required.

Tip: If you do not intend to serve immediately, don’t add the olive oil and don’t toss it through: just cover with cling wrap and set in the fridge. It won’t go soggy if you layer it as described above.

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