New Middle Eastern Food
8 as part of a mezze selection
Mark Roper

These spicy patties are a favourite snack all around the middle east, and from Lebanese takeaway shops the world over. Different versions of falafel abound — in Egypt they are made using dried broad beans alone, whereas in Israel, Lebanon and Syria they are usually made with chickpeas. Others still, like the recipe below, use a combination of the two.

These homemade falafel are spicy and fragrant. It is better to use skinless split broad beans rather than the whole, unskinned variety. You can also use fresh yeast as a raising agent instead of the bicarbonate of soda. This will give you an even lighter, crisper falafel. Use 15 grams of yeast blended with a tablespoon of warm water.

Yoghurt-tahini sauce


Quantity Ingredient
180ml natural yoghurt
60ml tahini paste
1 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove, crushed with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
100g skinless split broad beans, soaked overnight and drained
sea salt
1 1/2 cups fresh coriander, roots removed
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 small chilli, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
750ml olive oil, for frying
bread, salad, pickled turnips and lemon, to serve


  1. In a food processor, whiz the beans and chickpeas with a pinch of salt until they are the consistency of coarse, sticky breadcrumbs. Add all the other ingredients, except the oil, and whiz until they combine to form a bright-green paste which still has a fine crumb. Don’t overwork the paste — it should not be smooth and wet. Refrigerate for half an hour before frying.
  2. To make the yoghurt–tahini sauce, combine the yoghurt, tahini, lemon juice and garlic paste. Thin with a little water if necessary — the sauce should have the consistency of thin honey. Taste and adjust the flavours as necessary. What you are aiming for is a good balance of sharp yoghurt and lemon with garlic and nutty tahini. Refrigerate and use within 2–3 days.
  3. Heat the oil to 180°C. It is ready when a cube of bread sizzles slowly to the top and turns a pale golden brown. Shape the falafel into little patties and fry for 6–7 minutes, or until they are a deep brown. Eat the falafel straight away, dipped into yoghurt–tahini sauce or stuffed into Arabic flatbread, with salad, pickled turnips and a squeeze of lemon.
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