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Falafel, tahini and salad

Here's the secret to the perfect falafel - you'll want to make them on repeat.

The key to success is to use dried chickpeas soaked overnight. Tinned chickpeas go soggy and tend to fall apart while cooking. You’ll need a food processor or blender.

Photo: Silvia Nacamulli

PREP 20 minutes (plus 8 hrs soaking) for the falafel + 20 minutes for salad and tahini

COOK 10 minutes

MAKES about 20


300g dry chickpeas, soaked overnight

1 small onion, quartered

1 tbsp sweet/mild paprika

1 tbsp cumin powder

1 garlic clove, crushed

20g fresh parsley

10g fresh coriander

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 ½ tbsp sesame seeds/toasted sesame seeds

500ml light olive or sunflower oil to fry

For the tahini:

200g tahini

Juice of 1 lemon (approx. 40-50ml)

½ clove garlic, crushed (optional)

¼ tsp caraway or cumin

½ tsp salt

For the salad:

½ small red onion, finely chopped (optional)

300g good quality cherry or small plum tomatoes, diced 1x1cm

300g cucumber, seeded and diced 1x1 cm

10g fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

5-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 tbsp. lemon juice

Sea salt to taste (I use about ½ teaspoon)

To serve (optional)

Finely chopped parsley

Pita bread


  • Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water.

  • For the tahini sauce: blitz the tahini, lemon juice and garlic in a blender or food processor until smooth. Gradually add up to 200ml water (approx.) depending on the consistency you prefer. Ideally it should be like runny honey. Taste and adjust seasoning.

  • For the salad: soak the red onion (if using) in a small bowl of cold water with a pinch of salt.

  • Shake the chopped tomatoes on the board to remove some but not all of the excess seeds and juice. Add to the cucumbers and parsley.

  • Rinse and drain the onion. Mix everything in a salad bowl with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Mix well, season to taste and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil just before serving.

  • For the falafel: drain the chickpeas and blitz in a food processor or blender with the onion, paprika, cumin, garlic, parsley, coriander and salt. Mix to a fine consistency. Add more salt or seasoning to taste. Add the bicarbonate of soda and pulse another couple of times.

  • Transfer to a bowl, fold in the sesame seeds, cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes (longer if you need/want). Make 20 smallish compact balls, discs or ovals with your hands or a falafel scoop.

  • Warm the oil in a frying pan or shallow saucepan and when hot (about 150°C) add a few falafel balls in a single layer. Shallow fry each side over medium heat for about 2 minutes per side. Or deep fry for 3-4 minutes for a really crunchy coating.

  • Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a sieve over a bowl or plate to drain the oil. Fry the remaining falafel.

  • Serve warm and crisp as they are or with the tahini, Israeli salad and pita.


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