|Region or state:|
|Believed to have originated in Egypt before spreading north to the Levant|
|Fava beans or chickpeas|
|Recipes at Wikibooks:|
|Media at Wikimedia Commons:|
Falafel (//; Arabic: فلافل, [fæˈlæːfɪl] ( )) is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Falafel is a traditional Egyptian food, usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as lafa; "falafel" also frequently refers to a wrapped sandwich that is prepared in this way. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze.
Generally accepted to have first been made in Egypt, falafel has become a dish eaten throughout the Middle East. The Copts of Egypt claim to have first made the dish as a replacement for meat during Lent. The fritters are now found around the world as a replacement for meat and as a form of street food.
The word falafel can refer to the fritters themselves or to sandwiches filled with them. Some sources trace the name to the Arabic word falāfil (فلافل), the plural of filfil (فلفل), meaning "pepper", from Persian pilpil (پلپل), probably from the Sanskrit word pippalī (पिप्पली), meaning "long pepper". A Coptic origin has recently been proposed from pha la phel (Φα Λα Φελ), meaning "of many beans". However, the locus of the word's use is in the Levant rather than Egypt (where falafel are generally known as ṭaʿmiyya (طعمية)), and in fact an etymology from internal Levantine sources is possible. Levantine colloquial Arabic falāfil is grammatically a mass noun that must be counted with the word ḥubba (حبة), "grain, piece" (as the English word bread must be counted with loaf or slice). It may represent a frozen plural of an earlier unattested *filfal, from Aramaic pilpāl, "small round thing, peppercorn," derived from palpēl, "to be round, roll". Thus in origin, falafel would be "rollers, little balls." In its vocabulary, grammar, and phonology, the colloquial Arabic of the Levant reflects the deep influence of Aramaic, the language from which the population of the Levant shifted after the Muslim conquest of Syria in 634–638. In this way, an Aramaic origin for the colloquial term is not problematic, although the late date of attestation of the word in Arabic renders it somewhat tentative—a problem from which the proposed Coptic etymology, also invoking an unattested Coptic phrase, suffers from in equal measure. (In connection with the proposed origin of falafel in Lenten practices of the Copts, it should be remembered that since the days of the Apostles, the Levant to this day has a very large Aramaic-speaking, and later Arabic-speaking, Christian population.) The Arabic word falāfil has been borrowed into many other languages and spread around the rest of the world as the general name for this food. In English, it is first attested in 1941.
Falafel is known as taʿamiya (Egyptian Arabic: طعمية ṭaʿmiyya, IPA: [tˤɑʕˈmejjɑ]) in Egypt, with the exception of Alexandria. The word is derived from a diminutive form of the Arabic word ṭaʿām (طعام, "food"); the particular form indicates "a unit" of the given root in this case Ṭ-ʕ-M (ط ع م, having to do with taste and food), thus meaning "a little piece of food" or "small tasty thing".
The origin of falafel is unknown and controversial. A common theory is that the dish originated in Egypt, possibly eaten by Copts as a replacement for meat during Lent. As Alexandria is a port city, it was possible to export the dish and name to other areas in the Middle East. The dish later migrated northwards to the Levant, where chickpeas replaced the fava. It has also been theorized to a lesser extent that falafel originated during Egypt's Pharaonic Period or in the Indian subcontinent.
Falafel grew to become a common form of street food or fast food in the Middle East. The croquettes are regularly eaten as part of meze. During Ramadan, falafel balls are sometimes eaten as part of the iftar, the meal that breaks the daily fast after sunset. Falafel became so popular that McDonald's now serves a "McFalafel" in some countries. It is still popular with the Copts, who cook large volumes during religious holidays. Debates over the origin of falafel have sometimes devolved into political discussions about the relationship between Arabs and Israelis. In modern times, falafel has been considered a national dish of Egypt, the Palestine, and of Israel. Resentment exists amongst many Palestinians for what they see as the appropriation of their dish by Israelis. Additionally, the Lebanese Industrialists' Association has raised assertions of copyright infringement against Israel concerning falafel.
Falafel plays an iconic role in Israeli cuisine and is widely considered to be the national dish of the country. While falafel is not a specifically Jewish dish, it was eaten by Mizrahi Jews in their countries of origin. Later, it was adopted by early Jewish immigrants to Palestine. Due to its being entirely plant based, it is considered parve under Jewish dietary laws and gained acceptance with Jews because it could be eaten with meat or dairy meals.
In North America, prior to the 1970s, falafel was found only in Middle Eastern and Jewish neighborhoods and restaurants, and also eaten by vegans, who used it as a meat analogue. Today, the dish is a common and popular street food in many cities throughout North America.
Falafel has become popular among vegetarians and with those in the vegan movement, where it is celebrated as an alternative to meat-laden street foods, and is now sold in packaged mixes in health-food stores. While traditionally thought of as being used to make veggie burgers, its use has expanded as more and more people have adopted it as a source of protein. A versatile ingredient, it has allowed for the reformulating of recipes for meatloaf, sloppy joes and spaghetti and meatballs into vegetarian dishes.
Today, falafel is eaten all over the world.
Preparation and variations
Falafel is made from fava beans or chickpeas, or a combination of the two. The use of chickpeas is predominant in most Middle Eastern countries. The dish is usually made with chickpeas in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. This version is the most popular in the West. The Egyptian variety uses fava beans.
When chickpeas are used, they are not cooked prior to use (cooking the chickpeas will cause the falafel to fall apart, requiring adding some flour to use as a binder). Instead they are soaked (sometimes with baking soda) overnight, then ground together with various ingredients such as parsley, scallions, and garlic. Spices such as cumin and coriander are often added to the beans for added flavor. Fava beans must be cooked, for medical reasons. The mixture is shaped into balls or patties. This can be done by hand or with a tool called an aleb falafel (falafel mould). The mixture is usually deep fried, or it can be oven baked.
When not served alone, falafel is often served with unleavened bread when it is wrapped within lafa or stuffed in a hollow pita. Tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and other garnishes can be added. Falafel is commonly accompanied by tahini.
Falafel is typically ball-shaped, but is sometimes made in other shapes, particularly donut-shaped. The inside of falafel may be green (from green herbs such as parsley or green onion), or tan.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||1,393 kJ (333 kcal)|
|Vitamin A||13 IU|
|Thiamine (vit. B1)||0.146 mg (13%)|
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)||0.166 mg (14%)|
|Niacin (vit. B3)||1.044 mg (7%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.292 mg (6%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.125 mg (10%)|
|Folate (vit. B9)||78 μg (20%)|
|Vitamin B12||0.00 μg (0%)|
|Calcium||54 mg (5%)|
|Iron||3.42 mg (26%)|
|Magnesium||82 mg (23%)|
|Manganese||0.691 mg (33%)|
|Phosphorus||192 mg (27%)|
|Potassium||585 mg (12%)|
|Sodium||294 mg (20%)|
|Zinc||1.50 mg (16%)|
|Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
When made with chickpeas, 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. Phytochemicals include beta-carotene. Falafel is high in soluble fiber, which has been shown to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol.
Falafel can be baked to reduce the high fat content associated with frying. Although baking alters the texture and flavour, it is a preparation technique often recommended to people suffering from health problems like diabetes.
Largest falafel ball
The current record, 74.75 kg (164.4 lb), was set on 28 July 2012 in Amman, Jordan. The previous record was 23.94 kg (52.8 lb), 1.17 m in circumference and 0.3 m in height, set at the Santa Clarita Valley Jewish Food and Cultural Festival (USA), at the College of the Canyons in Valencia, California, USA, on 15 May 2011.
Largest serving of falafel
The record, 5,173 kg (11,404 lb 8 oz), was set by Chef Ramzi Choueiri and the students of Al-Kafaat University (Lebanon) in Beirut on 9 May 2010.
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|Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Cookbook:Falafel|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Falafel.|
- New York Times Recipe of the Day for February 12, 2008
- Safaa Cuisine Safaa Cuisine Felafels
- Chickpea and Walnut Falafel Recipe derived from the traditional Middle Eastern Falafel preparation