Falafel with Fava Beans and Chickpeas

Fava bean falafel

This is my small contribution to the falafel making discussions.  I have till now, only ever either made a packet mix one or bought someone else’s and re-heated them.  I have read many posts and people saying sadly that their falafel fell apart and what was the secret, so I have been reading and asking a little and Lynne has been making them too and I think between us we are establishing some clues….

I haven’t got hard and fast quantities to offer you because at the end of the day how you season your falafel is really up to you. Salt, chilli, spices – we all like different strengths and combinations but I will summarise where I have got to from this weekend’s experiments.

We used soaked but uncooked pulses to make the falafel. From what I’ve heard it doesn’t work very well with cooked pulses so you can’t use tinned ones.

We read various writers and got a tad confused, but I like the sound of this one which used fava beans from Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food and used her recipe as my guide. It is a fairly brief recipe and she doesn’t say how much salt to add.

I found these very exciting dried fava beans at Bristol Sweet Mart in St Marks Rd, Easton.

Claudia Roden says that it is typical to make falafel with these beans in Egypt when they are available. She talks about dried peeled beans, these Lebanese ones with skins on were the only ones I could find. She says it is more common to use chickpeas  (garbanzo beans in US)  in Israel. However we love broad beans and they are definitely sweeter and juicier in falafel than regular chickpeas, so worth using if you can find them.

St Brian peeled the favas once they had soaked for 24 hours. He discovered a couple had dead beetles inside them – those of you who have grown broad beans will know how prone they are to being attacked by all sorts of insect life –  but he figured out that the ones with a tell tale hole had the beetles in, so he threw those all away and we continued – we are still here, as are many people around the world who I am sure routinely consume beetles and other insects mixed in with their food, we probably all consume insect eggs in our pasta and flour related products and are unaware of it, worth a thought and of course, if you read The New Yorker, insects are a deeply fashionable foodie item.  Sorry, where were we?

Fava beans from LebanonI soaked about 400g (half the bag)  of these big fava beans and about 200 g of chickpeas. I soaked them all for a really long time, over 24 hours.  Then it was onto the teatowels to dry out and be skinned. (only the fava beans were skinned, not the chickpeas which have softer skins)

We debated doing one lot with chickpeas and one lot with fava beans and in the end, we mixed them up.

  • 400 g dried soaked and peeled fava beans
  • 200g dried, soaked chickpeas

Dry on tea towels, really as dry as you can get them. Leave them out if necessary to dry for a few hours.

Then take

  • two  big handfuls of fresh coriander and fresh flat leaf parsley
  • a medium sized onion

Chop finely in the food processor – again I had to guess for how long here but it came out ok with a few shreddy bits. If you want golden middles to your falafel omit the herbs and use something like turmeric to colour the insides.

Process the soaked pulses in a food processor or blender until they are soft and barely gritty to the touch.  They are quite hard to do as they are so dry so we ended up taking big spoonfuls out and redoing them several times. Do not think this is a quick process unless you have a dedicated food processor, the food processor attachment on the Kenwood is fairly small.

Mix the reserved green herbs and onions that you processed previously in with the processed pulses.

Add (here you might want to adjust quantities as it is very much a question of personal taste)

  • 6 large garlic cloves which had been put through a garlic press
  • 1½ tsp of seasalt,
  • 2-3 tsps of freshly ground cumin
  • 2-3 tsps of ground coriander seed,
  • ¼-½ tsp of hot chilli powder
  • a tsp of baking powder.

We left the paste to chill for an hour in the fridge and cooked some the first night to see if they were going to hold together or fall apart.

We made quite small  pucks as we wanted them to cook through and I thought if they were too big the outsides would get very dark before the middles were cooked. I have ordered a gadget to make them with, but it didn’t come in time for this batch.

They are very soft, so you either have to have a delicate touch as you lower them into the cooking oil and nerves of steel like Brian or use a thin edged scoop or something like that. [I know it looks as if he is putting his fingers in there, but trust me, he didn’t!]

I experimented with covering some in sesame seeds and they came out quite nicely with a bit of extra crunch, but it all got even messier so I gave up on that quite quickly. Then I pressed clingfilm into the top of the remainder of the paste and put it in the fridge.

The second day  they shaped up more easily and we cooked them all off and have frozen them for future meals.

We used sunflower oil to cook them in a flat bottomed wok, about seven at a time so as not to lower the temperature of the oil too much.

Chef moving at speed on the falafels here

Ours took about three minutes to cook on a medium heat. We cooked them till they turned a darkish brown colour, they should float up in the oil, and the oil should ‘foam’ when you put them in.

Fava bean falafelPut them on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil and eat with fresh Dan Lepard style pitta bread, chilli sauce, tahini sauce and salad one night and as a side dish to our roast lamb the following night. We also had roast butternut squash and red peppers reheated (from our pastry extravaganza two days before).

I made a sauce to go with all this which Brian thought was a pretty good compromise – he has a particular passion for old fashioned English mint sauce –

My Special sauce for Falafel and Roast Lamb

  • Two big spoonfuls of home made yoghurt
  • Loads of freshly chopped mint
  • Juice of half a squeezed lemon
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • a splash of apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Lynne ♥ has kindly shared the following useful thoughts from her recent falafel experiments :

  • The Moro recipe said to use a mix of cooked beans and “soaked but uncooked” but I did not do that…I just used the soaked but uncooked. It had an egg in it and I did that and think that did help to stop it disintegrating.
  • I put a few spoons of chick pea flour and I think that helped to bind
  • In a full size Magimix food processor the whole thing grinds up in seconds with no trouble…I just chucked it all in and ground to within an inch of its life.
  • I fried at 180 degrees in olive oil in a deep fat fryer which was pretty foolproof
  • I made the patties the day I ground them but cooked them the day after and I think that helped them to dry out…portioned out with an ice cream scoop so they were the same size.
  • I maybe made them a bit big…more like golf balls than walnuts (Moro recommended walnuts in size but not in actuality).
  • Nigel Slater advises to rub the soaked chick peas to get the skins off but I did not do that.
  • Someone said to use plenty of salt so I added a whole teaspoon..I found it impossible to gauge taste when it was all raw…I think it is trial and error
  • I added some dried garlic as well as the fresh just because the packet mix has it
  • Felicity Cloake on The Guardian website when making Hummus soaked the chick peas with a bit of bicarb and I did that …just a couple of pinches because she warns it can go soapy.

Plenty of falafel food for thought for us all and any experiences you have had we would love to hear about, successes or failures ! Lynne is currently working on rosti trials at home.  Mmm I love rosti!

If you can get the dried broad beans do try them as they are very good!

42 thoughts on “Falafel with Fava Beans and Chickpeas

  1. sallybr

    Joanna, I don t remember if I told you by email, but I had a friend over at the house a couple of months ago and we tried to make falafel. It was good as far as the taste, but most dissolved completely in the oil.

    That is something I want to try again, so I will use your method, but probably use only garbanzo beans, no way I could find dried fava beans, I doubt it.

    curious about the gadget you got…..

    Great post!

    1. Joanna Post author

      It’s called a falafel press. I think it will come tomorrow. Good luck if you try again Sally :)

  2. Pingback: How to make a falafel dinner | Emily Drinking Tea

  3. tom

    fava beans are known as foul in middle eastern shops ,hope that helps.My falafel making king does not dry the soaked beans but adds fine bread crumbs to the mix to help bind them. For seasening he adds a spice called hawiage which is very like indian tandoori mix

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Darling :) There is that wonderful dish ful (foul) medames isn’t there? I was watching Ottolenghi making a hummus with ful dish on an old video this evening. He cooks the chickpeas for ages until they have almost collapsed completely and then blends them while still hot to get a really creamy texture and cooks the ful for even longer. Hawiage I have never heard of, is it a single spice or a blend?

  4. Melanie

    Very informative post!! I’ve picked up several tips I’m going to try next time. I’ve never made falafel from a boxed mix. I guess I was lucky in that when I made them from scratch the first time, I didn’t have any issues of them falling apart. I made mine from soaked uncooked dried chickpeas. Definitely, I wouldn’t use tinned beans! I did have to add a bit of flour to get them to hold together. I think making the mix one day and putting in the fridge to cook the next is a good idea. I like an abundance of cumin, coriander, and fresh cilantro in my falafel. I love the beautiful green color of your falafel patties!!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks Mel,I remember you are a falafel fan too ! these didn’t even try to fall apart so I think the soaked uncooked thing must be the main thing. Tom above, adds bread crumbs to his mix. I didn’t add anything, maybe I got lucky…

  5. Bridget

    I tried that bicarb in the chickpeas once…never again. I made quite a lot and it fermented. Maybe I used too much. My falafels fell apart too so I’ll try them your way. I sound like a disaster zone…don’t worry…I do have successes too!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Bridget ! Fermented eh? I was just watching a video where Ottolenghi uses bicarb. I think I tried it once as it is supposed to make the skins softer or something, so it would be easier for it to ferment if already partially broken down by the bicarb maybe? If I want to keep cooked chickpeas for a while I usually coat them in a thin layer of olive oil to stop them oxidising, but they only keep in the fridge for a day or so before they start to ferment a little.

      It seems to be quite a fine line between collapse and holding together doesn’t it?

    1. Joanna Post author

      So was I to be honest, though the future of humankind may well embrace eating them big time ;)

  6. The Wild Wood

    Don’t your felafels look beautiful!
    What you have made look similar toTa’amaih; dry white skinned broad beans (ful nabed) shaped into rissole shaped discs, then rolled into sesame seeds.

    Light years ago I used a recipe from Pat Chapman’s The Curry Club middle eastern cookbook; ground chickpeas with fresh yeast, ground into a mouldable paste then kneaded like dough, left for 30 minutes, re-kneaded and rolled in breadcrumbs.
    The basic mix is very similar to yours with the addition of 110g of chopped onion, 1 talespoon of tahine paste (guaranteed to stick anything together) and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thank you for sharing all this WW :) I think you are right and these are essentially Tamiya / Ta’amiah as they are made from skinned very large ful beans. I have had a good read around this morning on some lovely Egyptian food sites and learnt a lot more. CR calls them falafel in her book and I always try to keep to the name that the recipe I am referencing uses otherwise when people get the book they can’t find it.

      I have not come across yeast being used at all in this context. Did it make a lot of difference? Sourdough falafel next maybe – now there’s a thought. Excellent idea to add a little tahini paste in there and I love lemon with everything.

      1. The Wild Wood

        I think the yeast made the falafel easier to mould not quite so fragile; the sourdough falafel does appeal!

        I made my first 70% rye and sour cherry sourdough this afternoon…….
        Thank-you for all your help with the starter!

  7. Sincerely, Emily

    well, how ever you did it – it looks good. I always thought chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and was surprised to see your green-tinged falafel. I have a bag of dried favas in the cupboard and they keep getting pushed to the back. Falafel maybe… maybe. maybe a mix of fava and chickpea.

    I must say I learned, yet another, new English word – pulse. As in something I need to check every now and then!

    1. Joanna Post author

      The green is from all the chopped up herbs. The beans themselves are pale creamy colour once you remove the skins. Pulse is a useful generic word, is it only Br Eng? I didn’t know that, I will be careful to explain it another time.

      Have a look at this lovely video for how to use the beans for further inspiration http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/video/2010/jun/29/ottolenghi-hummus-ful

      and the recipe is given on the site here http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/oct/18/hummus-with-ful

      1. Sincerely, Emily

        I don’t know about the “pulse” thing – maybe other American know it and I am just in the dark. I looked it up – no big deal to me.

        I love the green in yours. I will check out the links too.Thanks

        1. Joanna Post author

          I think I know it from our supermarkets where they talk about the ‘pulses’ shelf, where the dried peas and beans hang out waiting to be revived ;)

  8. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    I love falafel so much! But I’ve never seen them in such a beautiful vivid green, what a lot of work you’ve put into getting this right! You know me, I love a good quest.. :)

    We’ve never made our own, but when we cook them, we serve a tahini sauce on the side – let me know if you’d like the recipe.. :) xxx

    1. Joanna Post author

      I don’t know if we have got it quite right yet, work in progress, canters along ni ni ni! ;) I had never had green ones before either but I like the colour contrast too.
      We have tahini sauce recipes but I don’t have the right chilli sauce recipe for these, we used our sweet chilli sauce, B said not quite right, and then found a nice oak smoked chipotle one in the cupboard, still not right. I think I need to work on that :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks Gill :) In answer to your question, the conversation started on Twitter the other week, but as you know tweets are very short and not conducive to detailed discussion so I said I’d post something here.

  9. Heidi Fodor

    This is my third attempt to comment- I had to go to my facebook account because WordPress won’t acknowledge me! I am so frustrated!!!
    Anyway- these look great.
    Thanks for doing all the work and eating all the fried food to illustrate and make your own felafels!
    I’m going to make them up when I get home.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hello – naughty WordPress! I am so glad you persisted Heidi :) It was a great hardship eating all the fried food and in order to atone I made rough puff danish buns with lashings of butter (as they say in all the best children’s books!) and then I gave them away today. How noble was that? I also made mint choc chip cookies which… wait for it…. I spread with a layer of peppermint flavoured green mascarpone and then attempted to envelop in melted chocolate. A little extreme in response to a grumpy husband complaining that he could only get ‘milk chocolate coated mint flavoured biscuits these days’. I’m heading up North again tomorrow, where the wifi can be erratic, but if I’m sitting in my B and B with some wifi I’ll pop by and say hello.

  10. drfugawe

    Hey Jo,
    Do you grow favas in your garden? Hereabouts they are an easy and useful ‘winter’ crop, and I’ve never lost any to the cold (although we don’t really have cold winters in Oregon). They also are a garden’s friend because they add nitrogen to the soil while they grow – or so they say. I also use them as a cover crop, grown very thickly over winter and then tilled in during early spring, when the ground is otherwise soggy wet and not tillable – unless something like favas are growing well and soaking up all that wetness.

    So, they have many qualities besides just their good taste to endear themselves to us! If you have a few of those dried ones in your pic left over, try planing them this fall – those dried favas often still germinate.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hey Doc! We have grown a couple of short rows of ‘broad beans” which are the same family as the favas, always plagued by black aphids though. i must admit I was curious whether these Lebanese ones might sprout, so it is very interesting to hear about what you do with them and how useful they are. I will give it a go for sure :)

  11. Jan

    Oh that does look and sound so good, Joanna – I think I would be very happy with those, a squeeze of lemon and your yogurt sauce, yum, yums.

  12. Jan

    Just had to share this with you Joanna – it’s a grey, drizzly afternoon, still quite warm; I’ve just spent about twenty minutes frozen to the spot because a young butcher bird was taking shelter on our balcony railing. He was going through his repertoire which is quite extensive from his morning tweeties to evensong. His little body shook and bounced with the effort he was putting into it. It was such pleasure.

    1. Joanna Post author

      How exciting Jan! Wish i was there right next to you whispering shared comments about your young visitor :) I am sitting in bed in a B and B in the Lake District where I am doing a family visit. The rain has stopped briefly so I’d better get up and get going. Will see if I have time to take a few pics over the weekend x Jo

  13. The Wild Wood

    Hello Joanna,
    I’m making the falafel with yeast this afternoon; will let you know how successful it is. The last time I also made a fresh harissa sauce ( the bottled harissa doesn’t contain the red capsicum as well as the chilli) and tahini to serve with them.

      1. The Wild Wood

        Joanna, the falafels were so easy to make with the yeast, makes them very light and easy to mould. Because you knead them twice they’re springy like bread dough; the homemade harissa is an essential with them as well as your special sauce.
        I had to substitute italian parsley for the coriander and ripe lime for the lemon; they had a lovely sharp kick but not as beautifully green as yours.

        1. Joanna Post author

          I am so pleased it works, always good to have more than one way to make a dish – have a great week, Elaine, I am still away, back home later in week :)

  14. Lynne Beutlich

    Just a little postscript…I made some more of these today with soaked chick peas from the freezer…actually soaked “roasted split chick peas ” that I found in the Asian shop…added in some sesame paste to the mix and also some Lupi beans from a jar..they seem to have added a nice texture and made it lighter.

    1. Joanna Post author

      They sound good! B ate his way through most of the ones I left in the freezer while I was away, and my falafel press came, so I will have a go at making some more soon. I am not sure what Lupi beans are. Did you see that Wildwood (Elaine) makes them with yeast? So interesting all the different versions of doing this :)

  15. thelittleloaf

    Just stumbled across these through Google – they look seriously delicious. Love the addition of fava beans, and all those gorgeous green herbs running through.

  16. Pingback: Quick Chickpea Curry with Homemade Falafel « muncho mom

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