Posted by: Caity | September 23, 2010

Making Falafel

We picked a day that was relatively open – a Saturday, our new Sunday as the weekends in Egypt are Friday/Saturday – as it can be a lengthy process: individually picking the leaves off of multiple bunches of cilantro and parsley, blending seemingly endless batches of the mix in our (small) food processor, and letting the mix cool in the fridge for two hours before frying. But the mix can last for quite some time in the freezer, so a morning in the kitchen is well worth the couple of meals.

We also picked that Saturday because the following day we were heading to our second cooking class with Nora, a wonderful French-Egyptian who is nimble in the kitchen and keen to share. For a fair sum, she’s opened up her kitchen to us and a few other eager foreigners and walked us through making Egyptian (and Lebanese) vegetarian cuisine: tahini sauce, falafel, babaghanouj, hummus, fattoush salad, tabbouli, koshary, and the dreamy dessert konafa. We had already made the tahini sauce from our first class (so good!), but wanted to make a more complicated dish before coming back for more.

We had soaked the dried fava beans overnight and gone to the local market, the baladi souq, to buy the remaining ingredients.  The souq is tucked next to the metro stop just after ours, and it winds back along a covered path as sellers display the fruits and vegetables from local farms, along with bananas from the Philippines, apples from Syria, and kiwis from who-knows-where. For those who are so inclined, you’ll also find live chickens, the occasional baby goat, and drawers up drawers of loose spices. For about $4 we bought 6 bunches each of cilantro and parsley, pulled straight from the ground and tied together with palm fronds, onion, garlic, and a quarter kilo of local lemons which are about the size of a spinning quarter. Don’t be fooled, however. They are bursting with juice.

Then we got to work: chopping the onion and garlic, washing and de-leafing the greens, and blending them with the beans and puffs of spices while adding flour, water, and fresh-squeezed lemon juice. After a few hours in the fridge, we shaped the falafel balls in our hands and covered them with sesame seeds. We tested the hot sunflower oil with a spurting drop of water, and then put them to fry. Viola!

Our lunch was so tasty that Luke began encroaching on my last falafel after garbling up all of his…

The Recipe

500 grams of dried fava beans (or substitute with chick peas, soaked and boiled for about an hour, or canned)

2 medium onions

1 large bunch parsley

1 large bunch coriander

4 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of flour

Salt & pepper


½ cup water



Sesame seeds

Wash and soak the fava beans overnight. Wash parsley and cilantro and remove the stems. Layer all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend, adding water alternately. Keep it for 2 hours in the fridge. Shape the falafel balls and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Fry in sunflower oil at 160 degree for 4 minutes on each side (they must be crunchy on the outside and tender in the middle). Serve hot with the tahina sauce!



  1. Mmmm. Looks good. You might have motivated me to try making them myself.
    Btw, I’m happy to see you guys are doing well in Egypt 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: