Falafel, the traditional and historical dish that is a main staple in the Middle East, is a patty or a ball which is made of fava beans and/or chickpeas that have been ground. You will recognize falafel by the way in which it is served, which is in a pita or even a flat bread called lafa. The pieces of falafel are usually topped off with salad, some hot sauce and pickled vegetables. They are then drizzled with a bit of tahini-based sauce for extra flavor. Traditionally, falafels are either eaten by themselves as a snack, or they may also be eaten as a part of a mezze. Because of its ingredients, falafel is a healthy type of food.
Do you make falafel with chickpeas or broad beans, what do you serve them with and are they the best vegetarian fast food ever?
They do fast food properly in the Middle East: chargrilled meaty wraps; crisp, wafer-thin pastries; and, of course, the almost ubiquitous falafel fritter. Once almost exclusively the preserve of the vegetarian in the kebab shop, more authentic versions, heaped with nutty tahini sauce and punchy salads, are increasingly charming British punters away from the burger van. Hot and crunchy on the outside, fluffy and herby within, it's no wonder so many countries want to claim the falafel as their own.
The Oxford Companion to Food reckons that falafel's “extremely ancient” origins lie in Egypt, where it is still an immensely popular snack. It is also one of the national dishes of Israel (thanks, according to Claudia Roden, to Yemenite immigrants) as well as showing strongly in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Jordan.