Rachel Reed

Green Farm Falafel

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3 falafel balls with drizzled tahini

It just happened. Yours truly just transplanted six-inch plants, sprouted from store-bought chickpeas, less than two weeks ago. Their roots were even longer. There was only one way to celebrate. FALAFEL.

One mad day last Fall I helped prepare hundreds of falafel balls to feed a farm crew of over 40.  We used as many fresh herbs as we could get our hands on. I also recall using Bulgar and eggs.  Well, across the world in rural Costa Rica, I just adapted a delicious, easy and yes–vegan–recipe from Joan Nathan’s The Foods of Israel Today by using tons of fresh herbs, jalapeño and pickled pepperocini (for garnish) from the farm. I substituted cumin for turmeric – a super healthy and locally-grown spice.  I made two batches, one with whole wheat flour, one with locally grown cornmeal. Wouldn’t you know, cornmeal won in the taste test. Which can only mean one thing: vegan, gluten-free love.  Hakarat hatov, in recognition of the good. xxoo

Serves 4 (main course), 6-8 (apps)


  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1 onion, rough chop
  • 4 tbsp parsley, fine chop
  • 2 tbsp culantro or cilantro, chop
  • 2 tbsp basil, chop
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, diced de-seeded
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, chop
  • 1 tsp dry ground turmeric or carcuma
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4-5 tbsp cornmeal
  • Sesame seeds
  • Vegetable, grapeseed, or sunflower oil for frying

Garnish ingredients

  • “Tahina” sauce (use equal parts tahini and water, add lemon juice, salt, pepper, drizzle olive oil, sprinkle paprika…)
  • Pickled veggies (suggestions: pepperocini, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots), chopped tomatoes, olives, …
  • Bed of greens, chopped, drizzle lightly with oil and vinegar


  1. Soak chickpeas in large bowl covered with 2+ inches water. (I recommend at least 24 hours – the longer the less gas. You could also sprout your chickpeas for a couple of days if you’re super fancy.) Drain and discard gaseous water.
  2. In a food processor gently blend (not puree) chickpeas, onions, herbs, hot pepper, garlic, and spices. (I added a dash of cumin and paprika too.)
  3. Pulse in baking powder and 4 tbsp cornmeal. Form a test ball to make sure dough doesn’t stick. (For this reason, I think I used closer to 5 tbsp cornmeal.) Cover and refrigerate for at least 45 mins. If you’re making for a group or party, I always recommend making the dough before your company arrives.
  4. Form mixture into about 24 balls. If it looks too big, air on the side of smaller. You can approximate with a 2 tbsp scoop or #60 scoop. I also read that the size can be compared to a walnut (shell), if that’s a relevant point of reference.
  5. Important! Before frying, dip each ball in thinly spread layer of sesame seeds. They won’t really stick if you sprinkle them directly into the pan.
  6. Some prefer frying in a deep wok or even a pot, but a fairly small-sized skillet wGreen-colored falafel frying in panorked well for me.  The amount of oil will depend on the diameter of your cookware, but you want to heat enough oil to cover about half your ball.  Once oil is hot (they say 350-375 degree but food thermometers freak me out) gently place one ball and fry to test—less for taste (because you can test your batter raw, vegan love <3 )—whether it falls apart.  If so, frown. Then add a little cornmeal.  It also could be that your oil is too hot – always keep the flame on LOW.  Since this recipe makes about 24 balls, you might as well do about 3 batches of 8 (so long as you can maintain enough space around each ball to turn without disturbing the others).  Fry for a couple minutes on each side, or until golden brown (but still greenish inside).
  7. Drain on a layer or two of paper towels.  Set out little places and serve felafels, tahina and garnishes buffet style. B’tevon.