Falafel is a delicious little deep-fried fritter made with either chickpeas or fava beans, depending on what country you are from. These little fried balls are thought to have originated in Egypt but the true origins are unknown and highly controversial. What could have originally been eaten as a meat replacement for religious holidays, falafel later became a popular street food and soon made its way to other Middle Eastern countries. The Egyptian version of falafel is made with fava beans and has a smooth, creamy texture while the other, more common version is made of chickpeas and has a gritty and denser texture. Both are outstanding.
Falafel is part of the meze course, which resembles a North American starter or appetizer. Usually eaten with tahini based sauces, pickled veggies and pita, falafel is served with other small dishes as the beginning of a large meal. These flavour-packed fritters are so popular that McDonald’s had “McFalafel” on the menu in Egypt for quite some time. I have often enjoyed falafel in a sandwich form, stuffed into pita with lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, sauces and pickled veggies for a super healthy and delicious lunch.
Falafel truly is a magical food, so old that the origins are basically unknown. Egypt, Israel and Palestine all claim falafel as their national dishes which can turn into an ugly debate when the subject is breached. Whether you are eating the Egyptian, Israeli or Palestinian version of falafel, you can be sure that it is delicious and satisfying; maybe just don’t ask who made it first.