Crispy Baked Falafel with Yogurt Tahini Sauce
These Crispy Baked Falafel with Yogurt Tahini Sauce can be served as an appetizer or a meal that’s served inside a pita pocket with cucumber and lettuce, or over couscous or rice in a bowl. Baking is healthier and my preferred way to prepare falafel as it still achieves the same result and yields delicious flavor.
Falafel are usually deep fried which makes them absorb much of the oil. You can get the same crispy exterior by baking them in the oven and with using very little oil, a healthier falafel. They should be crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside with the characteristic green that comes from the fresh herbs they’re made with.
These falafel are vegan/vegetarian, but the sauce is not. You can use any plant-based yogurt to replicate the sauce.
Because these falafel are not completely submerged in oil, I like to make them like little patties (like mini falafel burgers!). This way, all sides of them are on the surface of the pan and they brown evenly and oh so beautifully.
It’s not for me to say for sure because I have read that they originated in all of the following countries: Egypt, Arabia and Israel, 1,000’s of years ago. So, for arguments sake, lets just say the Middle East.
Key tips when making baked falafel:
Dried chickpeas/garbanzos are simply a must; not canned/tinned. This is because canned/tinned chickpeas are pre-cooked and they are too soft and wet to hold their shape and will not crisp up on the outside and that you don’t want. You will end up adding so much flour to dry out the mix and they can turn out dry.
By using dried beans you are only hydrating them and not cooking them before blending and mixing with the other ingredients. They get cooked by frying, or, in this case, baking!
Baking powder: Makes the mix lighter and keeps the inside fluffy when cooked.
Falafel consistency: The consistency when blending the mix is crucial to the finished product and the texture on your palette (the texture and feeling you get when eating them). Blending just until the mix is coarsely chopped (but not pasty) and you will see that it has taken on the green from the herbs. Pulsing the processor and checking from time to time will help over blending as this method will allow you to stop and check. (see picture above).
Flour: Flour is needed to dry out the mix. If too wet, they will not form properly and can break when cooking.
Refrigeration: Refrigerating is key to chill the mix so when they are formed they hold together when cooking.
Shaping baked falafel
I like to pack the mix firmly into a ball then shape into flat patties which works best for baking, and they get evenly browned on both sides. You’ll know if you added enough flour at the point of shaping them by the way they stick together. If the mix is too wet it will crumble and you’ll need to add a little more flour. This is why dried chickpeas are best to use.
Baking uses less oil and the falafel absorb less of the oil. With deep frying, the falafel is completely submerged. You can also shallow fry in a pan, but baking creates less mess and since they are made patty-style, they cook faster. You can also make them in the air fryer.
Best sauce to serve:I like a yogurt tahini sauce with a little lemon for fresh tartness and and little sweetness from honey. I also have a Creamy Tzatziki Sauce made with cucumber and herbs that would also be delicious.
Best ways to serve falafel
There are 3 ways! Traditionally, in a pita pocket with the sauce, lettuce, cucumber or tomato if you like. I also like them in a bowl over couscous or rice with cucumber, tomato and avocado. Or, simply on their own by dipping them into the sauce ,which is more of an appetizer.
How to store falafel: In a sealed container, refrigerated for 3-4 days. To reheat, you can do this quickly in a non-stick pan or with a little oil or in a 400°F/200°C oven for 6-7 minutes.
If you’ve made Crispy Baked Falafel with Yogurt Tahini Sauce, leave a comment (or question) below. I love to hear from my readers!