Teresa Sabga
Active Time
20 Mins
Total Time
50 Mins

Who really invented falafel? As a long-lost daughter of the soil, I’ve pondered the Great Middle-Eastern Debate with pride. For hundreds of years, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon—where my roots are planted—have all claimed the famous fritter as theirs. And it’s no surprise since falafel, the humble chickpea snack, is intertwined into each country’s national identity and cuisine. 
In Israel, the deep-fried fritters are stuffed into warm pita with lettuce, tomato, onion, and hummus. Egyptians replace the chickpea with fava beans, a beloved staple. The Lebanese and Syrian menus feature falafel in mezze, sampler platters of dips, yogurt, olives, cheese, and more. Today, we’re offering up a lighter version, baked and served over a vegan cucumber tzatziki alongside a silky tahini sauce.

We used canned chickpeas for a smooth batter, but authentic preparations use dried chickpeas (soaked overnight) for a grainier texture. Falafel is also naturally gluten-free, so those with celiac or a gluten intolerance can still join the party. We use chickpea flour to thicken the batter, but you can use any gluten-free flour you like. 

While one person rolls and pats the falafel, another can prepare the salad (if you have an extra pair of hands). Khyar bi laban, a cucumber-yogurt dip very similar to Greek tzatziki, is one of my aunt Linda’s specialties. It inspired this vegan version. Instead of using a dairy base, we rely on coconut yogurt for creaminess. Persian cucumbers are perfect since they are smaller, sweeter, and 10 times crispier than English cucumbers. And because they have little to no seeds, you can use a vegetable peeler, spiralizer, or mandolin to slice long ribbons for a salad that’s easy on the eyes.

How to Make It

Step 1

Using a mandolin, vegetable peeler, or spiralizer, thinly slice cucumbers into lengthwise ribbons. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and dill. Stir in the cucumber ribbons and onion. Place in the fridge to marinate. 

Step 2

For the falafel, combine the chickpeas, parsley, mint, garlic, onion, cumin, coriander, salt, and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until the mixture resembles a grainy paste. 

Step 3

Transfer to a bowl. Fold in the sesame seeds and pine nuts. Add ⅓ cup chickpea flour, stirring until the mixture is no longer sticky and wet, adding additional flour as needed.

Step 4

Preheat the oven to 425°. Line two baking trays with parchment paper; lightly coat paper with cooking spray.

Step 5

Once chilled, take a tablespoon of the mixture into your hands and pack it tightly between your palms. Gently flatten them and pat the edges to neaten it up. Place each patty on the prepared tray and repeat. Lightly coat the patties with cooking spray patties and bake for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Step 6

In a small bowl, combine the tahini dressing ingredients, whisking until combined.

Step 7

Divide the tzatziki between plates and place the falafel on top. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of tahini dressing over each serving and save whatever remains for dipping veggies or spreading on toast in the morning. Scatter whole dill, parsley and mint leaves all around for a fine-dining feel. 

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