how to make hummus & falafels like a pro [5 ingredients]

falafels hummus

I’m travelling in the Snowy Mountains this week – yay for a Winter wonderland. But wanted to drop by and share my latest discovery. Yes we’re talking home made falafels. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to have a crack at making these wonderful Middle Eastern staples.

I still remember my best falafel and hummus experience, EVER. I was travelling in Jordan and had to spend a couple of days in the capital, Amman – not the most exciting of cities. I was a bit unhappy about having to stay there but I decided to go out walking and make the most of it. Somehow I ended up finding this little hole in the wall restaurant that was really packed – always a good sign. So I decided to give it a go. At the front of the restaurant was a man cooking with a pot that looked like a giant wok filled with oil. One after the other he was pumping out the most beautiful falafels I’d ever seen.

After snagging a table, the efficient staff brought hummus and flat bread – I love when there’s no need for ordering. Just sit tight and wait your turn. Soon a plate of the freshest falafels were plonked down and I didn’t waste any time wolfing them down. And what a revelation. Light and crisp and bursting with nutty freshness – a whole world away from the reheated falafel rolls I’d experienced in Australia.

Between the falafel joint and a little bakery I found that sold warm flat bread drizzled with olive oil and za’atar ( a spice blend of sumac, thyme and sesame seeds), I found myself reluctant to leave Amman. But travel on I did, taking with me the memory of those perfect falafels and the mental note that one day I’d make them myself.

It’s been over 10 years since that trip to Jourdan and for one reason or another, I’d almost relinquished the dream of making falafels. But something inspired me a few weeks ago. Possibly my new-found frying confidence after tackling the perfect home made potato chip. I’m not sure really. But I decided to make my own falafels and I’m excited to announce that they not only met, but exceeded expectations. And now I have a lot of lost falafel time to make up for.

It’s enough to make a dedicated omnivore think about having a fling with veganism.

hummus

[5 ingredients | 10 minutes]
hummus

makes about 1 1/2cups

Hummus is such a wonderfully versatile condiment. I could happily eat it for every meal. It’s lovely on it’s own with some flat bread (or Irish Soda Bread – as I discovered when I was in the Emerald Isle earlier in the year). It’s also wonderful as a sauce or a sandwich spread. It’s pairs wonderfully with lamb but it’s soul mate is well and truly fresh falafels, hot from the pan.

If you prefer to cook your own chickpeas from scratch, by all means do so. But I find I get even better results with canned chickpeas.

The secret to great hummus is to use some of the chickpea cooking (or canning) water an pureeing everything for a good few minutes to make it lovely and smooth.

If you don’t have a food processor, don’t let that stop you. Just mash everything together with a fork – the result will be a little more rustic but will still taste divine.

1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 – 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons tahini

Drain chickpeas, reserving the canning water. Pop chickpeas, 3 tablespoons of the canning water, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor.

Whizz for a few minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides once or twice. Add tahini and continue to whizz until everything is lovely and smooth.

Taste and season with salt, pepper and perhaps a little more lemon juice.

falafels

home made falafels
serves 2

You can prepare the falafels ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to fry. While cooked falafels can be reheated in the oven, they’re no where near as lovely when they’re hot out of the oil.

It’s important to have your oil hot enough, otherwise the falafels will fall apart.

As I discovered myself, the texture can be really varied depending on how tightly you press the balls when forming. The tighter, the less likely they are to fall apart, but the heavier the texture. It’s worthwhile experimenting a little to find the balance between lightness and falling apart.

I think the best thing to do with falafels is serve them with pita bread, hummus and tabbouleh – like my quinoa tabbouleh I posted about recently.

1 small round pita bread (75g / 3oz), torn
1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz), drained
1/2 small red onion, peeled & finely diced
1/2 small bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
peanut or other oil for frying

Whizz bread in a food processor until you have chunky crumbs. Add chickpeas, onion, parsley, cumin and a little salt. Whizz again until you have a paste that is still a little chunky.

Using a tablespoon and your hands form into rounds or little logs that are about the size of a walnut in its shell.

Heat enough oil to just cover the falafels in a medium saucepan until very hot. When a piece of bread browns in 10 seconds or so, add about 1/3 the falafels and fry for a few minutes or until deep brown. Remove and drain on a wire rack. Keep warm while you repeat with the remaining batches, making sure the oil is hot enough between each.

Serve ASAP.

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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Wei-Wei August 23, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Loooooove hummus! I think I’ll make some later this week. I use dried chickpeas, though… would the liquid in the can provide much flavour? Can somebody check the ingredients list…?

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Marie (a.k.a. gardenfreshtomatoes) August 23, 2010 at 8:58 pm

My 18 -year -old son will be staying with me in a few weeks, and one of our projects is to teach him a few simple recipes. He doesn’t eat much meat, so this might be a perfect place to start.

What kind of oil do you use for frying, Jules?

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Xanthus August 23, 2010 at 11:19 pm

I remember almost living on falafels when I travelled in Jerusalem. There was a stall near the Damascus Gate. Or when I was in Heraklion, in Crete, with lots of chips, or Santorini with a beer at sunset, or Hurgada in Egypt, or ….

I make both falafels and hummus at home now, but it’s not quite the same – somehow it’s less romantic when I do them in my kitchen then buying them near the Damascus gate. I put dried chickpeas, in the blender (which gives a great fine powder) to get my base – easy peasy. I’m still perfecting my mix of spices though. Might give this recipe a go next time. Thanks Jules – and enjoy your trip down south to the snow — brrrrrr.

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Eli August 24, 2010 at 2:21 am

Can the pita crumbs be skipped? I want to make falafel, but I’m allergic to gluten.

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Melissa August 24, 2010 at 6:32 am

i was just telling my boyfriend i could make him falafel. glad i have a recipe now to back up my claims!

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Sarah August 24, 2010 at 7:54 am

Can you share your tabbouleh recipe too? Also, the pitas in the picture look yummy and I’ve heard they are easy to make so wondered if you make those yourself?

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Alexa @ Sohdalex August 24, 2010 at 8:15 am

I spent some time in Israel a few years ago, traveling from north to south. I had some of the freshest and tastiest falafel ever while I was there as well! I curious if one of the places I stopped in was the one you visited! But this recipe looks delicious, I should try making my own falafel sometime and see how it compares.

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Ana August 24, 2010 at 9:56 am

Gosh, that falafel looks great! There’s a street in the Marais in Paris with several little restaurants where you can have falafel that looks half as good for (i’m sure) three times the price! Thanks for the gorgeous pictures.

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Mariana August 24, 2010 at 10:45 am

You make a very different hummus to me. I’m afraid I need more convincing to use the “canning” water. Whenever I use canned chickpeas I rinse and drain them really well and I would never dream of using the canned water, so this is very interesting to me. I usually prefer to use dried chickpeas that have been cooked. I cook a potful and freeze the rest in small bags. It is so handy that way to add directly to a dish or use for hummus. I also add paprika and cumin in mine, a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and some warm water as needed to help reach a smooth consistency. I use a good quality salt for seasoning. Different folks, different strokes.

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kim August 24, 2010 at 11:01 am

Hummus is my favorite dip! I think it’s all about the balance between tahini and good quality olive oil and of course, fresh garbanzo beans.

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Lee Welch August 24, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Funny, was just reading another recipe for hummus last night – in Matthew Evans’ book, Real Food. He says the trick to really smooth hummus is to puree the chickpeas while they are still warm…

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Janel August 24, 2010 at 12:45 pm

You convinced me with the GourmetRabbit draw… let’s see if I can’t get lucky!

By the way, I’m loving your recipes more and more as I try them out. Just wrote up the white bean and walnut puree on my blog (were you aware that it is DIVINE on cold apple slices??), and I will be tossing together another chickpea and parmesan salad the very next chance I get.

Thanks for the tips, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for you!

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Linda August 24, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Another trick for perfect hummus is to emulsify the tahini and liquid together BEFORE adding the chickpeas to the blender — this trick gets you the perfectly smooth, creamy results you see in (some) restaurants and marketed brands, and all the fresh taste of homemade. I picked up this trick on a vegan cooking exchange, by the way. :)

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Gabi August 24, 2010 at 2:31 pm

I don’t know why I don’t make hummus and falafel at home! They are such great vegetarian protein. I will have to try these recipes out, stat. I have been making your three ingredient cake and talking it up all the time, by the way.

Two recipe questions though:
– my fiance, who is a hummus snob due to having a best friend who is israeli, forbids me from making hummus with canned beans. Can you explain a bit about why you think it’s better?
– also, in the hummus recipe, you say to add the tahini in the first blending and then again later. how should it be divided?

Thanks!
Gabi

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Claire August 24, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Hopefully this recipe will work out better than the last time I tried to make hummous – my eldest still refers to the disaster it was whenever I attempt something new (“hope it’s not like the hummous mum”.. Charming! Question though – have had issues finding a tahini I like – is there a brand you recommend? I lived in Amman for 2 years when I was a child – would give a lot to go back – and not ONLY for the food though that’s a large part! Love that country!

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Marly August 24, 2010 at 10:24 pm

I love hummus and falafels. This recipe looks great too. Thanks!

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Michelle August 25, 2010 at 12:16 am

Mmm – This looks amazing! I love falafel so much. Definitely going to try this out, thanks :)

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Majeeda August 25, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Aww, look at all of us hummus lovers coming out!! Yours looks great Jules. It is different the 2 recipes that I use, but I’m sure we are almost all using a different recipe. I think it’s really clever to keep it to so few ingredients. The whole meal looks so yummy.

I have one recipe which has ”everything” I guess, complete with spices, tahini etc. Then I also have another recipe which, brace yourself…has no tahini in it. I was going through a tough time at one stage and tahini is a big expense added to the shopping so my friend shared her ”no tahini” hummus recipe with me. I still use it a lot because even now because, although it’s different, it’s nice and I’m into minimalism so it often saves me from having the tahini clog up my fridge. There is NOTHING else I use tahini for! lol.

When I make it I use dried beans which I have pre-cooked and usually frozen. In answer to someone who was asking, I add a little of the juice they cooked in if the hummus is too thick – but just a little and if I need more liquid after that I use water. If you asked me why though I would probably try to change the subject quickly (i.e. no idea :P)

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Maya August 26, 2010 at 1:02 am

I love your Mediterranean inspirations !..
I think you should visit Beirut (the city that never sleeps!) soon, to get a bite of our own falafels, hummus, kebbe, chawarma and much more finger-licking dishes…
Bon appétit!

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jody lee August 26, 2010 at 9:26 am

soo happy about the falafel recipe! thanks for such easy-to-follow instructions : )

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Linda August 27, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Gabi, some people (like me) are really sensitive to the tinned flavor of canned beans. And they seem to be a bit starchier overall than home-cooked. I prefer home-cooked when I have time to fool with them; their taste is really superior to my tongue (but not everyone I know agrees.) Also, I can make other dearly loved chickpea recipes from the same batch. However, home-cooked chickpeas are really a time investment — they take forever to soak (but cook relatively quickly after that soaking).

I personally put ALL the tahini in first so that it emulsifies with the liquids, before adding beans to the blender — it makes much smoother hummus. But I’m not Jules… she may have tricks I don’t know!! :)

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Reemski August 27, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Your missing a crucial ingredient to the hoummous!! Where’s the CUMIN!!?? I always throw in some cumin, then finish with sweet smoked paprika and some good extra virgin olive oil

It’s always a shock to eat “Westernised” hoummous as it seems so bland in comparison

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rachel August 27, 2010 at 6:23 pm

…great dinner sorted and it was delicious. don’t know wht I never thought of cooking falafel at home before – so light and tasty. Thanks!

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Kathy August 28, 2010 at 12:18 am

A little cumin and hot red pepper makes hummus truly extraordinary.

I recently had cilantro jalepeno hummus that was quite good.

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Erika @ Health and Happiness in LA August 31, 2010 at 10:23 am

Ahh I love hummus and falafel. And tabbouleh. I’ve always wanted to go to Jordan, so I’m very jealous! And yes, we vegans certainly have a penchant for hummus.

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Merenia September 1, 2010 at 10:26 am

Dear Jules,
I would recommend some ground cummin in the hommous. It gives that extra wow factor, probably 1/2 a teaspoon for your recipe. There is no going back once you do this… makes hommous truly delicious.

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Jessica September 2, 2010 at 4:30 am

So delicious! I made all three for dinner last night and it was amazing, and so simple, I couldn’t believe how easy the falafels were…except for the hot peanut oil jumping out of the pan at me. In the hummus recipe, you say to put the tahini in twice – was that a typo? And how big is your food processor?

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jules September 2, 2010 at 10:17 pm

jessica
thanks for picking up the typo – all correct now.
my food processor is a fairly standard in size

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swan September 3, 2010 at 1:36 pm

No tahini at hand? A drop of sesame oil does the trick…

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sarah September 4, 2010 at 12:03 am

Looks delicious–homemade is so much better than supermarket hummus! My only problem with falafels is the deep-frying. So I found a recipe for baked falafel that doesn’t fall apart, because it’s made with sweet potato puree to help stick everything together. It’s from London’s Leon restaurant.

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Poor Taste September 4, 2010 at 2:53 am

I’m constantly screwing up hummus, but you’ve made it really simple here. I did add some cumin to it. Thanks! Sarah: For falafel falling apart issue, I’ve found that adding a little flour solves this problem.

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Lindsay at Kitchen Operas September 9, 2010 at 12:32 am

Ohhhhh do those look delicious! Thanks!

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matt September 9, 2010 at 7:11 pm

i recently found my fridge overflowing with sweet potatoes and made this sweet potato felafel recipe. it was so delicious. we wrapped it in lettuce cups with hommus and a tomato and parsely salad, a raw beetroot salad, and a carrot and orange salad. the sweet potato makes the felafel balls so moist and sweet.

http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/baked-sweet-potato-falafel-recipe.html

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matt September 9, 2010 at 7:11 pm

also, as you may have noticed from to two comments in as many minutes, i really like your blog!

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Lauren March 2, 2011 at 10:33 am

Hi There,

I made falafels, hummus and tabouleh last nite for dinner mmmmm YUM!!

Except my falafels fell apart, even when my oil was super hot and they were packed tightly :( what did i do wrong ?

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jules March 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Hi Lauren

Sorry to hear your felefels fell apart – they can be tricky little things.

If your oil was definitely hot and you packed them tightly, I’m not sure why they didn’t work for you…

But next time try letting them rest in the fridge for 1/2 hour before you fry – or add a little flour to the chickpea mixture..

J

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Michael B August 20, 2011 at 2:46 am

Do you have a technique to turn hummus into falafels? Is it possible?

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jules August 21, 2011 at 3:23 pm

No Michael – the tahini in hummus would really change the flavour profile

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David October 9, 2011 at 2:18 am

Hi Jules,

Just made this today to celebrate accidentally buying a blender. So much better than out of a plastic tub, thank you.

How long should it keep for in the fridge? 1-3 days or so?

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jules October 11, 2011 at 8:05 am

Hi David
It will keep for at least a week… it’s pretty low moisture and the lemon juice helps as well..
And congrats on accidentally buying a blender :)

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you should certainly try Turkish style !

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cam February 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm

made these two recipes today but added a little twist to both. with the hummus i made my own tahini albeit roasted the sesame seeds first. and with the falafel i added a some cilantro + chopped garlic and used the blender without washing it after having made the tahini. also i opted to be a little healthier and baked the falafels.

both recipes came out divine, although i think i added a little too much parsley — my falafels looked a little on the green side (:

btw how long will the tahini keep in the fridge?

oh and one suggestion. i think these two would be great with a little turkish kisir !!

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Ski Moses February 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Hi,
I am just reading your hummus & falafel recipes because I want to try to make my own falafel instead of buying the pre-made versions. I do already make my own hummus, so that is a good start! What I would like to know is – if I could get away with baking the falafel instead of frying them. Do you think they would still come out flavorful? What I would do is spread a light coating of olive oil on the pan.
Thanks, Ski

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Cassandra @foodmyfriend March 9, 2012 at 9:56 am

I’m making pita breads, hommus, falafels and chickpea tabouli today. Yuummm

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Younus April 13, 2012 at 11:00 pm

This was worst falafels! Never again. You spoiled my dinner.

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Darren October 22, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Great recipes – been doing the same sort of thing for a month or so. Bought some shop prepared hummous the other day and never will again – tasted watery and unseasoned.

Living in the Middle East you find the hummous changes from place to place. A Saudi colleague of mine who studied in Scotland swears that the best hummous he’s had comes from Tesco in the UK!

My falafels fall apart a bit but I dont deep fry them – I shallow fry before oven cooking so aybe that’s the problem……

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jules November 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Hi Darren
Yes – falafels can be fragile and having to turn them in a pan when shallow frying makes it even trickier.
I’m a bit worried about your Saudi colleague and his Tesco hummus… strange

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