g Text Version
Beauty & Self
Books & Music
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
News & Politics
Religion & Spirituality
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies

Bored? Games!
Take a Quiz
Rate My Photo

Women's Fashion
Small Office/Home Office
Holiday/Seasonal Cooking
Crafts for Kids

All times in EST

Full Schedule
g Middle Eastern Culture Site

BellaOnline's Middle Eastern Culture Editor


The History of Falafel

Guest Author - Julie L Baumler

If you haven't had privilege of eating them, falafels are a fried ball or patty of spiced chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) combined with spices and possibly some form of wheat. In some areas, some or all of the chickpeas are replaced with fava beans. Lebanese falafel often uses a combination of fava beans and chickpeas, while in Egypt, it is traditional to use just fava beans. Shape also varies by region. Falafel is commonly served in pocket or roll of flat bread with some sort of fresh vegetable or salad and a yogurt, tahini (sesame seed), or hot sauce. In Israel, they often include french fries in the sandwich as well. They can also be served plain with some combination of sauces, hummus or babaghanoush for dipping, either as a snack or as part of a meza plate. Occasionally falafel are served with tomato sauce, much like meatballs.

People have been growing chickpeas for over 20,000 years, making them one of the early stables of the human diet and first agricultural plants. While the history of falafel is probably not that ancient, it has been around long enough that its origin is shrouded in history and somewhat controversial! Israel claims falafel as its national food, and in fact, falafel was one of the words we learned in the first week of my beginning Hebrew class. Palestinians complain that falafel was stolen from them, while Israelis point out that the ingredients, if not the recipe, are documented in the bible as foods of the Hebrews. Additionally, they point to the fact that falafel quality and popularity in Israel improved with the influx of Arab Jews from throughout the middle east. What is clear is that falafel is a food that uses foods common in the middle east and is popular throughout the region.

Traditional falafel is made with ground dried soaked chickpeas. Dried legumes, like chickpeas, store and travel very well; particularly in dry climates. Since the chickpeas are not precooked, falafel can be made with as little as 5 minutes of actual cooking (frying) time, in comparison, most other legume dishes require over an hour of actual cooking. This makes falafel probably the fastest cooking legume dish. Easy storage and low fuel requirements makes falafel an ideal protein source when time or resources are limited such as when traveling.

Falafel is sometimes called the "Hot Dog of the Middle East", but the comparison has more to do with their shared roll as ubiquitous street food than taste or quality. Unlike hot dogs, falafel are very nutritious and include both high-quality protein and vegetables. If you want to get a taste of life in a falafel stand, check out the fun Falafel King game below. Be careful, like falafel, it can be addictive!

The Pea & Lentil Cookbook. (Moscow, ID: USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, 2000.)

"falafel (thing)." Everything 2. 21 February 2003. Everything2.com. 23 September 2006 <http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1432738>.

Just for fun:
Falafel King game - try your hand at running a falafel stand.
This site needs an editor - click to learn more!

Add The+History+of+Falafel to Twitter Add The+History+of+Falafel to Facebook Add The+History+of+Falafel to MySpace Add The+History+of+Falafel to Del.icio.us Digg The+History+of+Falafel Add The+History+of+Falafel to Yahoo My Web Add The+History+of+Falafel to Google Bookmarks Add The+History+of+Falafel to Stumbleupon Add The+History+of+Falafel to Reddit

Homemade Falafel
Related Articles
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map

For FREE email updates, subscribe to the Middle Eastern Culture Newsletter

Past Issues

Printer Friendly
tell friend
Tell a Friend
Email Editor

Content copyright © 2015 by Julie L Baumler. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Julie L Baumler. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.


g features
King Midas: Not Just a Greek Myth

Bolu, Turkey

Turkish Museums

Archives | Site Map


Past Issues

Less than Monthly

BellaOnline on Facebook

| About BellaOnline | Privacy Policy | Advertising | Become an Editor |
Website copyright © 2015 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.

BellaOnline Editor