Even though it seems exaggerated, falafels are the healthiest option for someone who prefers plant-based food over meat. They're packed with fiber, protein, and antioxidants. The ingredients to make it is very common and affordable, too! In the past, I never knew how these scrumptious fleshless patties would taste like, but I have heard them mentioned occasionally (along with tubs of hummus) in Hollywood films. Interestingly, there are movie titles with the word 'falafel' or 'felafel' added in. Let me start at the beginning, before I get too excited about everything falafel!
Falafel is a fried patty or ball that is made with mashed legumes (most often with chickpeas or fava beans) that’s mixed with herbs, and spices, and then deep-fried until crisp golden brown on the outside and tender in the middle.
There are many recipes you can find online but I found a falafel video recipe that’s easy to follow! Usually, the beans are soaked overnight and then ground together with ingredients and spices such as parsley, coriander, cumin, and pepper. The mixture is shaped into balls or patties and is usually deep-fried.
The word falafel is said to come from the Aramaic ‘pilpal’ meaning a small round thing or from ‘palpel’, meaning to be round to roll. The origin of this yummy fried patty is controversial to a point that it has sink into the the political discussion about the relationship between Arabs and Israelis. To date, there isn’t a piece of singular, strong documentary evidence that points to falafel’s humble beginnings. Despite all the debates about where it came from and which country owns it, what’s more important is that we can all enjoy this fried patty.
Whether you associate falafel as Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, or Jewish dish, it can’t be denied that the falafel is quickly becoming a global mainstay among plant-based lovers around the world. Just like Arlene’s Falafel, inspired by authentic Middle Eastern recipe, which is quite a hit among vegetarians, vegans and flexitarians who are looking to cut down on their meat consumption.
Falafels are extremely versatile! You can eat it as a snack, a meal for lunch or even dinner. It won't matter if you're not a good cook to enjoy this delicacy. I think it pairs well with a side of French fries, lettuce, slices of tomatoes, and cucumbers. Whenever I feel inspired to make something in the kitchen, I'd pair my falafel with a simple Shirazi salad with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions with some pepper, dried mint leaves, lemon juice, and olive oil.
When I don't feel like eating shawarma or burgers, I usually make myself a wrap! Pita bread and wraps go well with falafels. You can buy those ready-made pita breads or wraps from your nearby supermarket. You can use an air fryer to reheat the bread or use a plain cooking pan. Once warm, just put all your falafels and veggies. You can garnish it with tomatoes, cucumbers, pickled onions, and garlic mayo, and you're done! You can also try hummus, tahini or other spicy sauces like sriracha. I like how they taste savory without the meaty aftertaste I sometimes dislike.
I find it interesting that a serving of deep-fried falafel - without pita and toppings - has roughly 330 calories, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 17.5 grams of fat, 13 grams of protein, and 294 milligrams of sodium. If you're trying to lose the extra weight, this is great! Falafel is also a good source of soluble fiber, the type that helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
And that is the case with falafel, a God-sent treat and an incredibly healthy and increasingly common dish on our tables!
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