Served with warm pita and drizzled with tazitki or tahini sauce, this traditionally middle-eastern dish is usually eaten with “meze” (appetizer). The name ‘Falafel’ (with it’s origin in Arabic) has been spread and translated in other languages as ‘pepper’ , ‘long pepper’, ‘small round thing, peppercorn’, “to be round, roll”, “rollers, little balls”.
Falafel’s true origin is controversial – though most believe it dates back to Pharaonic Egypt. Origin aside, these crispy little guys are so popular that McDonald’s introduced a ‘McFalafel’ in some countries! And, though not a specifically a Jewish food (but popular because considered pareve under Jewish dietary laws) , falafel is the national dish of Israel!
What’s all in it? Falafel is prepared by soaking chickpeas, fava beans, (or a combination), then mashing the beans with herbs like parsley, garlic, cumin and coriander. The batter is formed into small patties that are traditionally fried, but can also be baked (as our Chef Jeremy has prepared them). Falafel is high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. Chickpeas are also low in fat and salt and contain no cholesterol. Key nutrients are calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, thiamine, pantothenic acid, vitamin B, and folate.
Falafel can be eaten alone or in a salad, but is most often enjoyed sandwich-style in a pita or wrapped in a lafa. Whether you’re eating from a stand, cart, or restaurant, a ‘toppings bar’ is typical – and stuffing your falafel-filled pita is encouraged, though eating it may prove to be difficult! Check this out! The current record for largest falafel ball is: 74.75 kg (164.4 lb), set on 28 July 2012 in Amman, Jordan. If you missed Farm to Fit’s rendition of Falafel this week, give Portland’s Wolf & Bear’s a try – on SW 10th st, NE Mississippi, or SE 28th!