Making Homemade Pomegranate Molasses Is Easy As 1, 2, 3

My grocery store, smack-dab in the middle of Nowheresville, N.Y., is sparse, to say the least. It’s the kind of place where discovering a head of radicchio is akin to winning the vegetable lottery.
The condiment aisle can be equally maddening: A jar o…

My grocery store, smack-dab in the middle of Nowheresville, N.Y., is sparse, to say the least. It’s the kind of place where discovering a head of radicchio is akin to winning the vegetable lottery.

The condiment aisle can be equally maddening: A jar of harissa is there one week and gone the next. There are either three kinds of tahini or none at all. And finding pomegranate molasses? Forget it.

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How Kibbeh Paved the Way for This Syrian Refugee’s Freedom

Fatima’s kitchen is quiet. It’s six o’clock in the evening, and sirens are wailing to signal the onset of curfew. The streets of Amman are deserted, storefronts are shuttered, schools and mosques are empty, the border is sealed. Anyone who leaves their…

Fatima’s kitchen is quiet. It’s six o’clock in the evening, and sirens are wailing to signal the onset of curfew. The streets of Amman are deserted, storefronts are shuttered, schools and mosques are empty, the border is sealed. Anyone who leaves their home before 10 o’clock the following morning will be arrested. Thousands who have attempted to defy curfew have been taken by roving military patrols.

To Fatima, being trapped at home isn’t really the hardest part—it’s the uncertainty of being able to afford rent and food on a steadily dwindling income. But she is prepared, hopeful even. This isn’t the first crisis she’s lived through.

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Classic Falafel

Here’s how to make falafel: the authentic way! It tastes just like a restaurant, herby and fried to crispy perfection—with a baked variation, too. Once you’ve had really good falafel, you crave it. This fried chickpea fritter is stuff dreams are made of, stuffed into a flatbread with cool cucumber or tangy tahini sauce. You get the crunch of the fried outside, the soft herby interior, and the sauces that run down your chin and stick to your fingers. Homemade falafel is not quick and easy; it’s a masterpiece that tastes just like your favorite restaurant. Here’s what you need to know about how to make falafel at home! How to make falafel: an overview! This recipe is years in the making, like our margherita pizza and sourdough bread. Alex and I have done extensive research and learned from the masters to create this best classic falafel recipe. This recipe is a process, designed to honor the falafel you get at your favorite Middle Eastern restaurant (not replace it!). This is your chance to back out if you’re looking for an easy dinner recipe! Go to our Falafel Salad, Raw Falafel Bowls, or Falafel Burger: they’re easier and have similar […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s how to make falafel: the authentic way! It tastes just like a restaurant, herby and fried to crispy perfection—with a baked variation, too.

Falafel

Once you’ve had really good falafel, you crave it. This fried chickpea fritter is stuff dreams are made of, stuffed into a flatbread with cool cucumber or tangy tahini sauce. You get the crunch of the fried outside, the soft herby interior, and the sauces that run down your chin and stick to your fingers. Homemade falafel is not quick and easy; it’s a masterpiece that tastes just like your favorite restaurant. Here’s what you need to know about how to make falafel at home!

How to make falafel: an overview!

This recipe is years in the making, like our margherita pizza and sourdough bread. Alex and I have done extensive research and learned from the masters to create this best classic falafel recipe. This recipe is a process, designed to honor the falafel you get at your favorite Middle Eastern restaurant (not replace it!).

This is your chance to back out if you’re looking for an easy dinner recipe! Go to our Falafel Salad, Raw Falafel Bowls, or Falafel Burger: they’re easier and have similar flavors. Consider yourself warned! Now: here’s the basic outline of what you’re getting yourself into with homemade falafel:

Soak the chickpeasOvernight (or at least 6 hours)
Make dough and rest it5 minutes active, 20 to 30 minutes hands off
Form the falafel5 to 10 minutes active
Fry the falafel10 minutes active
Falafel sandwich

Equipment you need

You’ll need just a few things to make authentic falafel at home! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Large food processor: This is essential because it’s what breaks down the dried soaked chickpeas. A blender or small processor just won’t do. (Definitely not a knife!)
  • Food thermometer (optional): It’s nice to have a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil you’re frying in.

Authentic falafel uses dried chickpeas

Authentic falafel uses dried chickpeas. Do not even consider using canned chickpeas or cooked chickpeas in this recipe! Say it with me: I will use DRIED chickpeas! The classic texture that’s fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside comes from using dried chickpeas.

Soak these dried chickpeas overnight, or at least 6 hours. This means you’ll have to think ahead. Soaking the chickpeas softens them to a texture where they can be blended into balls. You’ll notice they double in size after soaking. Soaking overnight: that’s inconvenient! you might think. But authentic falafel is not about convenience at all. It’s about pure, delicious flavor. And that’s worth waiting for.

Authentic falafel

Here’s the texture that the dough should be!

The key to perfect falafel is the consistency of the dough. Blend it too much and the balls will be too dense. Blend it too little and the’ll fall apart when frying.

When you process the chickpeas with the herbs and spices, you’ll want a blended and uniform dough. The best way to explain this is by looking at it. Below is what your dough should look like when you’re done blending:

Falafel dough consistency

Forming the falafel: it’s not like cookie dough!

Another place where you might trip up: falafel dough feels crumbly and wet. It’s not at all like cookie dough! There’s no gluten or binder, so it doesn’t stick together in the way you’d expect. That’s exactly what you want here.

Chill the dough for 20 to 30 minutes to help it become easier to form. Then form it into balls the size of a ping pong. Pat it firmly so it comes together, but don’t squeeze it so hard that it crumbles. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it once you do a few!

How to form falafel

How to fry falafel (most authentic method)

Phew, you’ve made it to the frying step! When fried correctly, the falafel only pick up a bit of the oil. Because falafel are plant-based and healthier than a meat alternative, we still count it as a healthy (ish) recipe! Here are some tips on how to fry falafel:

  • Use a food thermometer if you have one. This can help you get to the perfect oil temperature (350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • This method uses 3/4″ of oil in a pan. It’s not deep frying, but it’s legit frying. If that scares you, go to the alternate methods below.
  • Take precautions around hot oil. The pan we used for frying was non-stick, so the oil didn’t bubble at all. Don’t be surprised: it might not look hot, but it is! Take necessary precautions (that is, don’t let your kiddos near it, etc)
  • Drop in balls carefully, then fry until brown and crispy. With the correct oil temperature, the falafel come out crispy, not oily.
How to fry falafel

Alternate method 1: Skillet fried falafel

If frying scares you, try skillet frying instead! The main difference here is that it uses 6 tablespoons of oil instead of 3/4 inch. It’s more like sauteing each surface than frying. This method is nice if you don’t have a food thermometer. Here’s what to know about this method:

  • It makes disc shapes, not balls. Because you’ll only be cooking two sides, you’ll have to flatten the balls into discs. If you want the authentic ball shape, you’ll need to use the main frying method.
  • Continue to cover the bottom of the pan with oil for each new batch.

Alternate method 2: Baked falafel

Baked falafel is not a traditional way to make it. The flavor and texture are not quite the same. But if you prefer not frying, this is your method! Here’s what to know about baked falafel:

  • It doesn’t get nearly as crispy as the fried method, as you might guess. But it’s still tasty!
  • It makes disc shapes, not balls. You can only get two sides browned in the oven method, so you’ll have to flatten the balls into discs just like skillet frying. They look a little less authentic but they still taste good!
Falafel in pita

Ways to serve falafel

Got those beautiful, crispy balls? Good! Here’s the best part: serving it! You can serve falafel as an appetizer with a dip. Or, we think the best way is in a falafel sandwich. (One of Alex and my top food experiences of all time is the falafel at L’As du Falafel in Paris. Transcendental!) Here are our best falafel sauces and accompaniments:

  • Cucumber Sauce or Tzatziki: This Quick Cucumber Sauce is easy to whip up while you’re waiting for the dough to chill. Or try the even more authentic tzatziki, made ahead.
  • Tahini Sauce: Lemon Tahini Sauce is creamy and tangy, another traditional option.
  • Cilantro Sauce: Falafel can also be served with a green cilantro sauce like Creamy Cilantro Sauce (vegan) or Creamy Cilantro Dressing.
  • Flatbread: Often it’s served in a pita pocket, but we think best way is wrapped in a soft flatbread. Try our Easy Flatbread Recipe if you’re really looking to impress! Also add crunchy veggies like lettuce, tomato and red onion.
  • Other ideas: Hummus makes a nice contrast. Harissa is good too; our best restaurant falafel featured this as part of the messy sandwich.
Best falafel in pita bread

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

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Falafel

Classic Falafel (Restaurant-Style!)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 24 falafel
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s how to make falafel: the authentic way! It tastes just like a restaurant, herby and crisp fried to perfection—with a baked variation, too.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas (not cooked or canned)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1/2 cup packed flat leaf parsley leaves and tender stems (or substitute more cilantro)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Neutral oil (like canola or vegetable), for frying
  • To serve as a sandwich: quick cucumber sauce or tahini sauceflatbread (try ours!) or pita bread, tomato, romaine lettuce, and red onion

Instructions

  1. Soak the chickpeas (overnight, or 6 hours): Add the chickpeas in a covered container and cover with several inches of water and soak overnight or at least 6 hours at room temperature. Drain them in a strainer and shake dry before using.
  2. Make the dough and refrigerate (30 minutes): Peel the garlic. Peel and roughly chop the red onion.  Add the garlic, red onion, cilantro and parsley to a food processor and process 10 to 15 seconds until minced, scraping the sides as necessary. Add the chickpeas, cumin, coriander, baking powder, kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Process for 10 seconds, stop to scrape the sides, then process more until a dough forms. It should be the texture in the photos above (check to make sure before proceeding!). Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil*: Add 3/4” of oil to a frying pan and heat over medium high heat until oil is 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. This takes about 8-10 minutes over medium high heat. (Make sure to take safety precautions when using hot oil.)
  4. Form the falafel (5 to 10 minutes): Meanwhile, press the dough into 24 to 28 balls about the size of a ping pong ball, around 1 1/2 tablespoons each, and place them on a baking sheet. Falafel dough is very crumbly, so it doesn’t stick together like a normal dough and it takes a little pressing to stay together. Don’t worry: this is just what you want for good falafel! (If the dough is really having problems sticking together, throw it back in the food processor and pulse a few more times.)
  5. Fry the falafel (8 minutes): When the oil is hot, fry one batch (about 12) of the falafel by dropping the balls gently into the oil with your fingers, keeping them as far apart as possible. Cook 1 minute, then flip with chopsticks and cook another 2 to 3 minutes until browned on all sides. Transfer to a towel lined baking sheet or plate. Repeat with the second batch.
  6. Serve: Serve with quick cucumber sauce or tahini sauce, or as part of a falafel sandwich.

Notes

*Alternate option 1: Skillet fry the falafel: Shape the dough into balls then flatten them into discs, about 2 inches in diameter and just under 1/2-inch thick. Heat 6 tablespoons neutral oil in a skillet or frying pan. Place a crumb from a falafel disk in the oil, and once it starts to sizzle, the oil is ready. Fry about 8 falafel at a time, for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until they are lightly browned all over, flipping with chopsticks. Transfer the cooked falafel to a plate. Add a bit more oil to keep the bottom of the skillet covered for the next batch.

*Alternate option 2: Bake the falafel: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Shape the falafel into discs as noted above. Place the discs on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown.

  • Category: Main Dish or Appetizer
  • Method: Fried
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Keywords: Falafel, Authentic Falafel, Best Falafel, How to Make Falafel, Falafel Sandwich

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Freekah Vegetable Soup Recipe

This cozy vegetable soup recipe features freekah, a whole grain that adds a chewy texture and a wisp of smoky flavor. It’s like a healthy spin on canned noodle soup! Ready for a seriously cozy soup that’s full of bold flavor? This Israeli soup recipe from the new cookbook Sababa features freekah, ancient grain that’s starting to have a moment here in the US. This soup feels like an elevated take on the chicken and stars canned soup of my childhood, but 100% tastier and healthier. Says author Adeena, the freekah adds body and “just a wisp of smoky flavor, as though a blown-out match had passed through each spoonful for a second.” If that’s not a reason to try this out, we’re not sure what is! This recipe comes from Adeena Sussman, author of the new cookbook Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen. Keep reading for more about the book and this freekah soup recipe. About the book: Sababa Sababa means “everything is awesome” in Hebrew, and this theme carries through the entire Sababa cookbook! It’s full of vibrant photography and fresh recipes from Adeena’s kitchen in Tel Aviv. Israeli cuisine has become beloved around the world, […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes

This cozy vegetable soup recipe features freekah, a whole grain that adds a chewy texture and a wisp of smoky flavor. It’s like a healthy spin on canned noodle soup!

Vegetable soup with freekah recipe

Ready for a seriously cozy soup that’s full of bold flavor? This Israeli soup recipe from the new cookbook Sababa features freekah, ancient grain that’s starting to have a moment here in the US. This soup feels like an elevated take on the chicken and stars canned soup of my childhood, but 100% tastier and healthier. Says author Adeena, the freekah adds body and “just a wisp of smoky flavor, as though a blown-out match had passed through each spoonful for a second.” If that’s not a reason to try this out, we’re not sure what is! This recipe comes from Adeena Sussman, author of the new cookbook Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen. Keep reading for more about the book and this freekah soup recipe.

Sababa cookbook

About the book: Sababa

Sababa means “everything is awesome” in Hebrew, and this theme carries through the entire Sababa cookbook! It’s full of vibrant photography and fresh recipes from Adeena’s kitchen in Tel Aviv. Israeli cuisine has become beloved around the world, and this is one of those books where as we page through we wanted to make literally EVERY recipe. While the book is not vegetarian or vegan, it’s vegetable forward and has tons of beautiful offerings whatever your diet.

Before sharing her freekah recipe, here’s a quick Q&A we did with Adeena about her book and Israeli cuisine! Here’s what she had to say:

Sonja: You were born & raised in the US but moved to Tel Aviv in 2015. What is it about Israeli food culture that helped draw you there?

Adeena: I love the passion for fresh food – from a humble sandwich shop at fine dining restaurant to home cooking, if the produce isn’t snappy and the bread pretty much fresh out of the oven, it doesn’t get served. I also love how Israeli food is as much about a laid-back vibe of socializing and hosting as it is about the food itself. I also love the dozens of ethnic traditions, brought to Israel by immigrants from all over the world and also from home-grown Arab, Druse, and Beduin populations, that influence cuisine here. It’s a delicious melting pot.

Sonja: What are 2 dishes in Sababa you would say are must-try, hat say something about Israeli food and your own personal style?

Adeena: I would say the Tanini Glazed Roasted Carrots. They take a simple, expected dish and transport you to the Middle East by incorporating cumin, date syrup, tahini, and lemon into an addictive dressing. I also love the Cardamom-Cinnamon Cold Brew Coffee. By throwing a cinnamon stick and some whole cardamom pods into your pitcher before cold-brewing, it creates something familiar, yet unexpected.

Sonja: Tell us: why should more of us be cooking with freekeh? What are other dishes where you love to use it?

Adeena: Freekeh – smoked cracked wheat pronounced “freaky” in Israel – is chewy like farro, but with more taste intrigue! It’s a whole grain, filling and super versatile. In the book, I use it in a delicious salad with roasted grapes and lemony dressing. I often cook up a quantity of it and use it wherever I might use brown rice, barley, wheat berries, or any substantial grain.

Vegetable soup with freekah recipe

What is freekah?

Freekeh is cracked wheat, an ancient grain that hails from the Middle East. Similar to bulgur wheat, it comes from the durum wheat plant, harvested when the wheat is green. In Arab communities, young green wheat is picked and dried in the field over wood to create freekeh, a grain that can be used a million ways. The grain has a chewy texture and a smoky undertone.

Is freekah gluten-free? No. Since it’s made from wheat, it is not a gluten-free whole grain like quinoa and millet.

How to cook freekah? If you’d like to cook freekah on its own as a side dish or as part of a grain salad, here’s our master freekah recipe: How to Cook Freekah.

Freekah soup recipe

Tips on this freekah vegetable soup recipe

This vegetable soup with freekah recipe is seriously cozy and comforting. While it takes about 1 hour to make, most of that is hands off. The hands on time is about 15 minutes. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making this freekah recipe:

  • Soak the freekah. This recipe calls for soaking the freekah while you saute the veggies; don’t skip this step! The freekah absorbs some of the water: this way it doesn’t absorb too much of the broth.
  • If you can’t find kohlrabi, use celery. We weren’t able to source the kohlrabi used in this recipe, so we substituted celery instead. It worked well to give a little crunch and subtle flavor. (A few kohlrabi recipes we love: Kohlrabi Carrot Fritters and Beet Dip with Kohlrabi Sticks.)
  • Add more freekah if you’d like. Adeena notes in the book that you can add more freekah to give the soup a thicker, porridge like consistency.

This vegetable soup with freekah recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Vegetable soup with freekah recipe

Freekah Vegetable Soup Recipe


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6

Description

This cozy vegetable soup recipe features freekah, a whole grain that adds a chewy texture and a wisp of smoky flavor. It’s like a healthy spin on canned noodle soup!


Ingredients

  • 1 cup cracked freekeh
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium kohlrabi (substitute celery if not available)
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth, plus more if needed
  • 1 Parmesan rind or 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh za’atar or oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • Chopped fresh herbs (za’atar, parsley, chives, or scallions), for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place the freekeh in a medium bowl, cover with cold water, and set aside.
  2. Dice the onion. Peel the rind and tough outer membranes off of the kohlrabi and dice it. Peel and dice the carrot. Mince the garlic. Dice the zucchini.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large (4-or 5-quart) saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 8 minutes. Add the kohlrabi and carrots and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 minutes; season generously with salt and black pepper.
  4. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Drain the freekeh, rinse it with cold water, and add it to the pot. Add the broth, zucchini, Parmesan rind if using, za’atar, salt, and the cayenne.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the soup is thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the Parmesan rind, season with more salt and black pepper to taste, divide among bowls, garnish with herbs, and drizzle with olive oil.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Israeli

Keywords: Freekah recipe, Freekah vegetable soup, Vegetable soup recipe

More vegetarian & vegan soup recipes

Here are a few more vegetable-forward soup recipes we’d recommend:

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes