The Day I Fell for Falafel

Arabic food may be an acquired taste to some people, but you cannot resist these amazing deep-fried chick pea-filled balls that come with a variety of dipping sauces.

falafel2

Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food, commonly served in a pita or wrapped in a flatbread, known as a “lafa”. The falafel balls are topped with salads and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze. For me, either way is a good idea to eat more of these delicious little fritters!

All falafel balls are made from fava beans or chickpeas. The use of chickpeas is predominant in most Middle Eastern countries, and this version is the most popular version in the West. The Egyptian variety uses fava beans, which are widely believed to produce a better taste. Egyptians also maintain that the fava bean falafel is the original.

arabicfalafel

When chickpeas are used, they are not cooked prior to use (cooking the chickpeas will cause the falafel to fall apart). Instead they are soaked overnight, then ground together with parsley, scallions, and garlic. Fava beans must be cooked, for medical reasons. The resulting mixture (whatever the ingredients) is shaped into balls or patties and then usually deep fried.

Falafel is typically ball-shaped and the inside may be green (due to ingredients such as parsley or green onion), and is usually accompanied by tahini. I really think the shape of falafel reminds me of a cheese ball that is popular in Arabic cuisine, known as shanklish. Although I fell in love with the falafel, I also need my fix of shanklish when I am travelling in the Middle-East!

Just Falafel outlet at the Dubai Mall
Just Falafel outlet at the Dubai Mall
A typical Just Falafel meal from Dubai
A typical Just Falafel meal from Dubai

Falafel is a common dish eaten throughout the Middle East and these little chickpea balls are now found around the world as a replacement for meat in fast food outlets, and also as a form of street food. 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 for a time served a “McFalafel” in some countries! However, I found my falafel love at a brand called Just Falafel at the Dubai Mall. I enjoyed it so much, I actually bought quite a few different wraps and pigged out on some chips, too!

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