entertainingfoodFood & Drinkin the kitchen withkristina gillrecipes

in the kitchen with: matkonation’s falafel

by Kristina Gill

OK, here’s the deal: Four years ago, artist Susan Schwake offered us a falafel recipe for the column that we didn’t end up posting. (Sorry, Suzie!) I had tried making falafel and found that the recipes I used had no “binder” in them, so when I fried them, they just broke into a million pieces. Susan’s recipe had flour in it, so I was dubious. To settle the score, we met up in Muenster and went to her favorite falafel shop and asked. They looked at us like we’d insulted their mothers when we asked if there was any binder. They said, “NO, NEVER!!!” Fast-forward to this year, and some colleagues bought me falafel for lunch, claiming it was the best they’d ever had outside of countries where falafel is eaten often. That gave me the idea to check with Israeli photographer/food stylist team Matkonation to see if they had a recipe for falafel that could answer this “binder/no binder” question. How do you make your falafel? (Don’t tell me with a mix!!!) See Matkonation’s recipe for Israel’s official street food, Falafel, after the jump! To see Israel’s national Friday night food, click here. — Kristina

About Matkonation: Danya Weiner, who was born in Los Angeles and moved to Israel at the age of two, has been working in the field of photography for over a decade. Specializing in food, Danya’s work has been featured in Israel’s top culinary magazines, advertisements and cookbooks. A mother of two young boys, she somehow finds the time to teach photography at a local college. Deanna Linder moved to Israel from Los Angeles to pursue a love interest and a budding career in the field of terrorism research. Eight years later, she lives on a farm with that love interest of hers (and a little one), works as a food stylist and cookbook editor and couldn’t be happier. Together, they are Matkonation, a bilingual (Hebrew and English) food blog, which is fueled by their love for aesthetics and passion for food.

The full recipe continues after the jump . . .


Ingredients for about 25 balls

  • 2 1/2 cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 small Spanish onion, quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • oil for deep frying



1. Soak chickpeas overnight in a large bowl filled with water.

2. Drain chickpeas and place them in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the onion, garlic, cilantro and parsley and pulse until ingredients are combined and the texture is grainy.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the cumin, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the chickpea mixture and mix until well combined. Gradually add the water and mix until reaching a thick, paste-like texture.

4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Meanwhile, using your hands, form the chickpea mixture into balls, about the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Once the oil is hot (375º), place the balls in the oil, a few at a time, and cook for about 3–5 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove with a spotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

5. Serve hot with tahini, pita and salad. Or eat those little guys on their own. Your call.

Why Danya and Deanna Love This Recipe

Falafel is the official street food of Israel (shwarma being a close second). Falafel stands are about as prominent in every Israel town and city as are sushi bars in strip malls in LA. Costing between about 2.50 and 5.00 US dollars (half portion/whole portion), what you see is what you get: a pita filled with Israeli salad, consisting of tomatoes and cucumbers, fresh fried falafel and tahini. It’s messy, and hard-core, and fried — just the way street food should be.

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  • this is almost exactly the same as my recipe (i don’t add extra water and i use a 50/50 mix of dried chickpeas and fava beans) and it is the best! i always get so many compliments and it’s far better than any restaurant i’ve tried in the U.S. mmmm falafel

  • Anyone know of a good gluten-free recipe? I’ve been craving falafel, but all the recipes I find use wheat flour.

  • I am sure I am breaking all of the rules, but I mix an egg in with mine…. hopefully I don’t get a lot of jeers for that. I think it’s yummy and it holds everything together!

  • I can’t wait to try this. I just got back from Israel and falafels were one of my favorits. Do you have a recipe for the sause they put on the falafel?

  • Just leave out the wheat flour. I never use it. You probably won’t need to add the 1/3 c water. If you do need a little something else to absorb some water or help it stick together, add ground flax seeds or other GF flour- chickpea flour or rice flour would work fine.

  • The sauce is homemade tahini. You take tahini paste and gradually mix in fresh squeezed lemon juice and water (I like to use about 75% lemon juice and the rest water) until reaching the desired consistency. Add minced garlic cloves and chopped parsley for more flavor.

  • It’s middle eastern, not just Israeli. You can get falafel just as good as in Jerusalem (and for half the price) in Palestine.

  • Okay- so I make mine with half mashed chickpeas and half mashed butter beans. Chop the onion finely and add to the mix, then leave it in the fridge until the onions have gone clear. This is so the water in the onions has soaked into the rest of the mix, and when you fry them the onions don’t release as much water and steam the falafels apart! A bit of chickpea flour works well too, if you want to avoid gluten.

  • Hi Frieda,

    Sorry if what I wrote seemed to imply that falafel was exclusive to Israel. My understanding is that it is not Israeli at all in origin. This recipe however is from an Israeli food photographer/stylist team, and they have said it is Israel’s official street food– but by no means is it exclusive! In fact, I ate falafel at a Lebanese restaurant today in Lakemba (Sydney suburb).

  • @Kristina, thank you for clarifying. I was going to also mention that falafel is not Israeli, but rather a popular Middle Eastern dish.

  • Just to clarify: you don’t cook the chickpeas? You just soak them and then put them in the food processor?

  • ok, not sure if this answers your question about the “binder/not binder” issue but here is the story: a friend of mind was taught to make Falafel from a chef in Egypt last year and when she said she had not always time to soak overnight the chikpeas he suggested that in the “unfortunate” case she uses canned chikpeas then she should add some wholegrain flour. It sounds to me like the binder is needed if you are “cheating” and using canned chikpeas. I have to add she did and her Falef were spectular :-)

  • ok, not sure if this answers your question about the “binder/not binder” issue but here is the story: a friend of mindewas taught to make Falafel from a chef in Egypt last year and when she said she had not always time to soak overnight the chikpeas he suggested that in the “unfortunate” case she uses canned chikpeas then she should add some wholegrain flour. It sounds to me like the binder is needed if you are “cheating” and using canned chikpeas. I have to add she did and her Falef were spectular :-)

  • You don’t cook the chickpeas after soaking. It’s very important that the hummus stays quite hard befor putting in the food processor.

  • Have you tried baking these for a lower fat version? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, just checking. One of my favorite foods!

  • Falafel, shawarma and hummus are all Middle Eastern (arabic) dishes that have been adopted into Israeli cuisine. Every country in the Middle East has their own unique twists on making these dishes, all are delicious! Claudia Roden has written several excellent Middle Eastern cookbooks.

  • Couldn’t believe it, but it worked the first time I tried making them and tasted delicious! Thanks so much for posting this recipe, it will make its way into my collection for lots of falafel madness to come.

  • dude falafel is middle eastern thing if u wanna try the real falafel go middle eastern country (Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Jordan ) they are the best

  • Oh my goodness people…get over it. Falafel is Middle Eastern in origin…it can be Israeli, Arabic, Lebanese, there’s probably even an American version of it out there that involves potato chips. But the point is…who cares? This version is Israeli. What is so wrong with that? Google it, and you will find recipes that specify Arabic versions, Egyptian versions, Lebanese versions, ect. This is why there’s still war. Why get offended? Why even feel the need to point out that the falafel in Palestine is just as good and half the price as in Israel? IT”S JUST FALAFEL!!! Essentially this is a list of ingredients and directions on how to mix the ingredients…if that can somehow offend you, I think it may be time to step back and take a look at yourself…Seriously. This is why we have wars. We should all be able to live our lives together in peace without worrying about constantly offending someone of a different race or religion…if you’re Muslim and I’m Jewish or vice versa…can we not be neighbors without contributing to the horror that’s been going on for ages in our respective homelands?

  • In Greece, we call them “revythokeftedes” (ρεβυθοκεφτέδες). That’s one reason they are not as popular as in the middle East :-P. Νο I am joking. “Keftedes” in Greek or “kofta” in the middle East is the name for anything fried that comes together with onion and flour or breadcrumbs or any binder with a shape, usually of a ball. It can be meatballs (keftedes), tomato fried balls (tomato keftedes) , cabbage or various vegetables (lachanokeftedes) or potato fried balls (patatokeftedes) , and so on.