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What is a falafel

Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern dish made from chickpeas. In many countries, like Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, Syria, and others falafel is a common street food or fast food. Even McDonalds introduced its version, McFalafel, in some countries. Falafel has become very popular in the Western workd, where it is sold or served not only in ethnic restaurants, but also on street stands, green markets and vegetarian stores.

Falafel is made from ground chickpeas and/or fava beans, which are formed into patties and deep-fried. Everybody knows that deep-frying is probably the least healthy cooking method, which makes falafel not so dietary and not very good for health, especially if consumed frequently. There is, however, a way to make it healthier by cooking it at home using grill or oven instead of deep-fryer.

Healthy falafel recipe

This recipe requires following ingredients:

Whole-wheat pitas for falafel pockets, one can of chickpeas, drained, one onion, preferably red onion, finely chopped, one quarter of a cup of white flour, three spoons of fresh parsley, chopped, one and a half spoon of chopped garlic, one spoon of fresh cilantro, chopped, half a spoon of ground cumin, salt according to taste, half a teaspoon of baking powder, one quarter of teaspoon of lemon juice, a pinch or paprika and black pepper, some olive oil spray, baby spinach and diced tomatoes.

The oven should be preheated at 375F.

All the ingredients, except for pita bread, olive oil spray and baking powder, are placed in the food processor and chopped. The mass is transferred into a large bowl and mixed with baking powder. It should be chunky, not too smooth.

The mass is used to make small balls, about the size of a ping-pong ball. They are placed onto a baking sheet sprayed with olive oil, and the top of each ball is lightly sprayed as well.

The balls are baked in oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown on each side. Before serving they should cool for about five minutes.

For making the simplest sauce it is recommended to buy pre-made hummus. Hummus should be mixed with some water (two parts hummus, one part water) and seasoned according to taste with salt and pepper. Many different sauces and dressings can be made to accompany the falafel balls and it is basically a matter of personal taste, though hummus is the paste traditionally served with falafel.

The pitas should be slightly warmed or toasted for better flavor and nut into halves. They are filled with falafel balls, spinach, tomatoes and sauce and served warm.

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