Munchies Guide to Israel: Falafel

Israel is surprisingly well-known for its falafel. Falafels can be found in almost all parts of the world, but I have to say the countries in the Middle East know how to make them best.

So what are they?

What are falafels?

Essentially: they are deep-fried balls of crispy goodness with a soft and flavourful inside.

They are a traditional Middle Eastern food that most likely originated in Egypt.

Most of the time, Falafels are made from chickpeas, fava beans, or both; however, depending on where you get your falafels from, you can definitely find other variations.

Making falafels

The process of making falafels starts by soaking chickpeas and grounding them up.

Once ground up, they are seasoned with onions, scallions, and herbs.

This mixture of ingredients is then shaped into balls and deep fried.

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A vendor making falafels for a busy afternoon in the outdoor market

My taste buds tell me In my very professional opinion, the best combo for a falafel is for it to be crispy on the outside, yet soft and not too oily on the inside.

In order to get the balls to perfection, the vat of oil that they are fried in must be at the perfect temperature.

How do you eat falafels?

Although you can ask for falafels on their own, they are commonly served with pita bread.

In this case, the term “falafel” can technically be referred to the entire meal, though usually it more accurately describes the main ingredient (the chickpea balls found within it).

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Falafels served on their own (with some tahini) as a side dish
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Falafels served as a meal in pita bread, with a variety of vegetables and tahini as filling

The pita bread can contain a multitude of fillings – which at most falafel places, you can choose yourself. Typically, you’ll have tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, tahini-based sauce, and pickled vegetables.

In my experience, falafel is considered more as “street food” in Israel. If you were planning to have falafel, you wouldn’t go to a top-notch restaurant to have it – you would instead go to a small falafel stand on the corner of the street, where the owners are taking orders, talking loudly, and making your falafels on the spot.

If you’re ever in Israel, make sure to try this staple dish out!

Have you tried falafel? Was it to your liking?

To read about more of my adventures in Israel, the delicious foods this country offers, and a multitude of other topics, click here.