Baked Falafels with Lemon Tahini Sauce

You don’t need a deep fryer to make these crispy little balls of chickpeas and spices. They can be prepared in the oven and still have that traditional flavor and texture.

I’ll never forget the first time I had falafel, decades ago. My girlfriend and I went to Boston to attend a writers conference, a hectic two days of shuttle buses to different locations and hit-or-miss meals. One of those days, we didn’t manage to have lunch and couldn’t get dinner reservations until 9, way too late for a couple of country girls! We happened by a small stand that sold one thing – deep-fried falafel balls in a pita with a lemon tahini sauce.

One taste, and I was forever hooked!

I had never had this experience before, but we were starved and knew that dinner was a long way off. One taste and I was forever hooked. I remember biting into this delicious mix of hot, crispy, soft, textured wonderful, all doused with a sauce from heaven. We said not a word, just looked at each other as we ate with messy greed, sauce running down our chins and covering our fingers – they used a lot of sauce, and we needed to use a lot of napkins and lick a lot of fingers. Street food at its absolute best.

Start with dried chickpeas

Alas, my falafel experiences since then could not compare to the first time, but I’ve had some pretty amazing samples along the way. I learned ages ago that the best falafel is made using dried chickpeas that are soaked and then ground with lots of herbs and spices, and then deep fried. When I make my own, the preparation evolved from deep fried to shallow fried in a cast-iron pan, but I wanted to reduce the fat a little more and try my hand at baking them.

Saves time, not necessarily fat

I’m not sure I saved all that much in terms of fat since in my experiments, I needed a good amount of oil on the baking sheet and a good drizzle on top in order for them to crisp up the way I wanted. What it did save was fuss-over time; I could just put them in the oven and set the timer rather than hoover over the stove. Another time, I might shallow fry them, but if one is juggling to keep a lot of balls in the air at dinner time, set and forget in the oven is just fine!

Because the baked falafels can be a little dry, I added a bit of tahini right to the mixture. It acts to moisten them, and helps to bind them together as well.

Easy, fast prep

You have to think ahead and soak the chickpeas, but after that it’s all about putting everything in the food processor and letting it do most of the work.

Tuck them in a pita with lettuce, tomato, and onion and drizzled with the tahini sauce, serve them atop a salad, float them on some hummus and drizzle with olive oil, or just make them a part of a pretty plate of dinner. They are extremely nutritious, high in fiber and protein, and filling as well. As a bonus, they are gluten free, and the sauce is dairy free. Some lemon-tahini sauces use yoghurt, but this recipe does not.

Traditionally, both parsley and cilantro are used, but I do not like the flavor of the latter so I use just parsley. You can use both if you like, or add another green herb as well.

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Baked Falafels with Lemon Tahini Sauce

2 cups dried organic chickpeas

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp. cayenne

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. salt

1 small onion, chopped up

6 cloves garlic, smashed

zest and juice of one lemon

Bunch of parsley, chopped

1/3 cup chickpea flour

1/4 cup tahini

Lemon tahini sauce

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water by a few inches. Set aside overnight to plump up. In the morning, place in a sieve, rinse, and drain.

Place all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the mixture has an even grain, but still has texture. You don’t want a smooth paste here. If you pick up a small clump and squeeze, it will stay together.

IMG_6890
You want the mixture to be evenly ground, but still have texture.

Refrigerate the dough for an hour or more. This allows everything to get absorbed together, and the spices to settle in.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, and place a rimmed baking pan on the middle rack.

Form the falafel into balls or patties, the size you want for the dish you are making. Pack them together well, and smooth the sides.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and coat generously with olive oil. Place the patties or balls on the sheet, and brush with a little more oil.

Bake for 15 minutes, gently turn, and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. I like them nice and crispy.

Serve stuffed into whole wheat pita bread along with lettuce, tomato, onion, or other favorite salad veggies, and drizzle with lemon-tahini sauce.

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Lemon Tahini Sauce

I think I could eat cardboard topped with this. You can use this as a sauce for anything, delicious on roasted vegetables. Or, serve it as a salad dressing.

Juice and zest of two lemons

Equal measure of tahini

Pinch of cumin

1 garlic clove, pressed

Salt and pepper to taste

Water to thin

Blend together the lemon juice and zest, tahini, cumin, and garlic and whisk well. the mixture will thicken and get kind of airy. Add water to thin to your desired consistency, add salt and pepper, taste, and correct seasoning. You can also add a little hot sauce here.

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33 Comments Add yours

  1. Averyl says:

    I grew up eating this in NYC and love it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lucky you! I had to wait until my mid-20s to sample it!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. simplywendi says:

        truly my pleasure. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. terrepruitt says:

    Oh, I didn’t know that dried chickpeas were the secret! I have always wanted to make Falafels but never have!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The texture is so much better with the dried chickpeas. Hope you give them a try.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. terrepruitt says:

        I need to! I love Falafels and the close restaurant I used to order them from has changed their recipe and they are too spicy for me now. I need to make my own!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sherry says:

    i love the sound of that sauce! i have recently posted a blog about camels’ balls (aka eggplant fritters), which i also baked rather than fried. i’m too scared of the spitting oil:) i am yet to find a falafel that thrills me to the core., but your recipe has lots of flavours so i’m sure it would be good. cheers sherry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The sauce is delicious! And I’m intrigued about the camel’s balls! I am allergic to eggplant, but perhaps zucchini could be substituted.

      Like

  4. Looks delicious! I’ll have to try and make it sometime.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love that you can bake these!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I try baking jut about anything I used to deep fry. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but this works nicely!

      Like

  6. Your description of your first falafel experience had my mouthwatering!! I’ve never had falafel, I wish I could come to your house and have some!! Sounds amazing!
    Jenna

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was one of those food experiences you never forget! I wish for you the same experience somewhere, sometime!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So excited to try this! I love falafel!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sheryl says:

    I’ve had Falafels many times at restaurants, but never thought about making them at home. Now I know how to make them myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It takes a little planning, but they are worth it!

      Like

  9. Julia says:

    I love falafels, but I haven’t wanted to make them since they were deep fried. This gives me encouragement to make them at home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It definitely cuts down on the fat!

      Like

  10. Can’t wait to try this healthy and yummy recipe!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Looks absolutely delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Don’t need more than one taste to be hooked! I’m hooked only by looking at the pictures 😋😋😋 Super mouthwatering 😋😋😋

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are so good, and taste like nothing else!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Yummy, I really like the baked instead of fried. Lemon Tahini sounds so good. I am going to try!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s one of our favorite sauces!

      Like

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