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Falafels, a Middle Eastern treat for Meatless Monday

Posted on February 7, 2011 by in vegetarian

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Falafels are always the first thing I look for when arriving on a market. We are blessed with many markets in and around the Western Cape and trust me at all these markets there will be someone selling Middle Eastern Falafels, pitas and schwarmas.

I just love the intense aromas of cumin and coriander that I get when I am near these stalls. Biting into my first falafels was truly love at first sight. I remember it so well, the crunchy, crispy outside and the nutty, soft inside not to mention the flavors of cumin, chili, coriander and chickpeas that took me on an instant trip to a street vendor somewhere in the Middle East. I have always wondered if I would ever be able to make it to taste just like that…….
…and I am happy to say, my falafels were exactly as I remembered it and the beauty of it is that I can make it now whenever the craving hits me and I do not have to wait for market day anymore. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous to try the falafels on my family, first of all because dad is a bit of a carnivore and cumin is the one spice that my children do not like all that much.


Well my husband was blown away and all he kept saying is: “Tell everyone who is eating falafels, that there is absolutely no meat in it!” He was just so amazed at how “meaty” the falafels were. For me the perfection  is in the whole experience. Biting through the warm pita, hitting a crunchy warm, spicy falafel and some crispy lettuce and then the cooling effect of the minty yogurt and fresh coriander. Middle Eastern Street food does not get much better than this!

makes about 10-12 servings


2 tins of chickpeas – drained
1 small onion – peeled and cut in chunks
2-3 big cloves of garlic
1 chili
2 big handfuls of fresh coriander
2 eggs
1 tsp ground cumin
vegetable oil

Place all the ingredients, except the eggs in a food processor and blitz until everything is processed into a fine crumb like consistency. Add the 2 eggs and mix with the chickpea mixture. Allow to stand for about 5-10 minutes. Heat enough vegetable oil in a pan to be able o deep fry. Shape the mixture into smallish balls and fry them in batches until they are golden brown on the outside and moist and delicious on the inside. Serve in a warm pita bread with some fresh lettuce and minty yogurt(simply mix a cup of Greek Yogurt and some fresh mint). Delicious Middle Eastern street food!


Perfect for a Meatless Monday Meal. Through the week, we really try to stick to pasta, fish, chicken and maybe a little mince, but over weekends we so totally over indulge in meat, that Meatless Mondays actually come as a great relief. If you want to change to a healthier lifestyle, but there are just so many things wrong with what you are doing, I suggest you start with little changes and making your Mondays meatless, is definitely a step in the  right direction.

In preparation  for my talks on the Foodbloggers Indaba on the 20 February, I have attended some photo shoots under the watchful eye of two very talented young ladies. Illanique and Adel, you guys are so talented and generous and inspiring and you made my week really special.Thank you!
I hope you guys can see the result of my in service training and if you must still book for the conference, do so asap, I want to share some of my new found secrets with you!
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13 Responses to “Falafels, a Middle Eastern treat for Meatless Monday”

  1. Marisa 7 February 2011 at 9:00 am #

    What a perfect Meatless Monday meal Nina! I'm just as in love with falafels as you are. The crunchy outsides are the best. 🙂

  2. bellini valli 7 February 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Falafels are definitely my all time favourite vegetarian meal Nina. A cooling yogurt sauce and I would be in heaven.

  3. My Carolina Kitchen 7 February 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Cumin and coriander – two of my favorite flavors.

  4. Jane-Anne 7 February 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    My kind of food. Your pictures always look so fresh and tasty, Nina.

  5. That Girl 7 February 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    I think I lived off of falafels when I was a vegetarian.

  6. curele transmisie 7 February 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    I just love your meatless Mondays recipes. But my favorite has to be this one. My grandma used to make falafels and that’s how I fell in love with them. And yes, the crunchy part is indeed the best part.

  7. Junglefrog 8 February 2011 at 1:43 am #

    I love falafel and you're right; you don't miss the meat in these at all! Delicious!

  8. Jeanne @ CookSister! 8 February 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    Oh I LOVE falafels! They remind me of visiting friends in Joburg as a student, and having them in Hillbrow for the firts time. A different life… but the taste remains!

  9. Kevin 9 February 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Those falafels look perfectly fried and crispy and good!

  10. Jamie 9 February 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    Oooh they are perfect! How I love felafel and never make them anymore! Yours are just gorgeous and tempting.

  11. Winstrol 10 February 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Wow, falafels, who dosen't love a good falafel. They look crispy and so good.

  12. Cecilia 17 February 2011 at 11:01 am #

    I had them the first time duing a tour to Israel. Could not get enough. Was served in a pita bread with lots of sald. So happy to get a very easy recipe. Will definitely try it… C

  13. Yash 11 April 2011 at 8:45 am #

    Hi Nina,
    Unfortunately your Meat-Free Mondays don't strictly follow the Indian Meat-Free definition. Our definition of meat includes Egg and Fish as well – so this (and many of your other receipes) are not completely Meat-Free "Indian" ones.
    Please can you try and get us some receipes that do not involve eggs

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