Is falafel healthy? I do consider it healthy, despite it being high in calories and in fat, because falafel, like most Mediterranean foods, is low in saturated fat and high in protein, fiber, calcium and iron.
Having said that, portion control is important here, and like anything deep-fried, it’s best to consume falafel in small quantities. I find that a whole-wheat pita with a tablespoon of hummus and three falafel balls, served with a simple salad on the side, is the perfect lunch.
Next time I make falafel, I do plan on trying to spray the shaped falafel balls with olive oil spray and bake them in a hot oven (I’m guessing 30 minutes at 400 degrees F, turning once). I’ll post the results if they turn out good enough to be “blog worthy.”
Makes 24 falafel balls
Total time: 18 hours 45 minutes
Inactive: 18 hours 15 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
2 cups dried chickpeas
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
1. Place the dried chickpeas in a large bowl and add water to cover by 2 inches. Soak in the refrigerator for 18 hours. I usually make falafel for a late weekend lunch, so I start soaking the beans around 7pm the previous night.
2. Chop the onion and place in a colander over a bowl to get rid of excess liquid.
3. Drain the soaked garbanzo beans (now bigger in size and softer) and rinse thoroughly. Place the soaked chickpeas in a food processor and pulse to coarsely grind, not until smooth but with no whole chickpeas remaining.
4. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, baking powder, salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper. Process until mixture is pureed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate while heating the oil, about 15 minutes.
5. Heat oil in an electric deep fryer to 375 degrees F.
6. Use a 2-tablespoon ice cream scoop to scoop out ping-pong size balls, each weighing about 1 ounce. Gently shape each ball with your hands, using a light touch to prevent heavy, dense falafel balls. Fry in 3-4 batches, 6-8 balls in each batch, until falafel balls are deep brown, about 4 minutes per batch. Place the bowl with the falafel mixture back in fridge between batches.
Nutrition for 1 falafel ball*
Total Fat 5 g
Saturated Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 83 mg
Total Carbs 9 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 0.1 g
Protein 3.8 g
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 3 points
Nutrition for a whole-wheat pita with 1 tablespoon hummus and three falafel balls
Total Fat 19.0 g
Saturated Fat 2.6 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 658.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 65.9 g
Dietary Fiber 5.6 g
Sugars 0.0 g
Protein 19.4 g
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 13 points
*I wasn’t sure how to calculate calories from deep frying so used the nutrition information on calorieking.com
Recipe adapted from The Food Network