The bad news first. You really can't make falafel with tinned (or boiled) chickpeas no matter what the supermarkets might have you believe; you end up with something that might be a croquette or a cutlet, but the texture's all wrong. You'll also need a food processor or at the very least one of those old meat grinders.

Now for the good news. Falafel are delicious, and quite unique in terms of their meaty taste and texture, making them beloved by vegetarians, vegans, and meat eaters alike. And, by-the-by, Anita Dow swears these are better than Jamie Oliver's!

Makes about 18 small walnut-sized balls - serves 3.


130g dried chickpeas, soaked in lots of water for 10 hours minimum

1 small - medium onion

1 clove of garlic, crushed

a handful of fresh coriander and/or parsley (optional)

3 good teaspoons cumin powder

a scant 4 teaspoons coriander powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

a shake of fine white pepper (optional)

8 heaped teaspoons besan (AKA gram flour/chickpea flour)

fresh lemons to squeeze

If you're unfamiliar with any of the ingredients, find out more about them here:



Drain the soaked raw chickpeas really well and pop them into a food processor with the chopped onion and the crushed garlic. Blitz until it's roughly chopped, stopping often to scrape down the sides.


Add the herbs and blitz again, again stopping often to scrape down the sides.


Your falafel mix should now look like this. Carefully remove the blade and transfer it to a mixing bowl.


Add the spices and the besan flour, then work them thoroughly through with your fingers.


Pat it down to compress it, cover it, and let it chill for an hour in the fridge.


Place 2 teaspoonfuls in your palm and shape it into a rough ball. If the mixture crumbles and threatens to fall apart, it's probably too wet. Work another 2 - 3 teaspoons of besan through the mixture and try again.


Deep fry, or fry for 3 - 5 minutes in an inch or two of hot oil, occasionally (and gently) turning the falafel so they brown evenly. They can stick to the bottom of the pan and may require a firm but gentle scrape to loosen them, using something like a metal fish slice or palette knife.  I cook them in batches of 6 at a time.


Drain on crumpled kitchen towel, and serve immediately - perhaps in pita bread stuffed with a bit of crunchy salad, and plenty of lemon wedges to squeeze over them. After an hour, cooked falafel are hardly worth eating, so only cook what you need. Store any leftover mix in a container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Any questions? You can use the comments form at the bottom of the page.

Did you know?

You'll find recipes at the back of all the books in the Send for Octavius Guy series:

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