Dish of the Day: Falafel
Today is Falafel Day! Often enjoyed as a snack on-the-go or a vegetarian alternative to a kebab sandwich, the golden, crispy falafel balls are a staple part of every Mediterranean cuisine.
History of the falafel
Today, falafel can be found in all parts of the world, but it originated in Egypt some 1000 years ago. Historians claims that the Christian Copts of Egypt were forbidden from eating meat during certain holidays, so, like our modern vegetarians and vegans, they came up with a meatless snack made out of fava beans called ta’amiya. In the 1950s, the Yemeni Jews dabbled with the ta’amiya and started to make their own version made out of chickpeas. They began serving falafel balls in pita bread and because of the simplicity and tastiness of the dish, it became a popular street food around the Middle East.
How falafel is made
It is easy to make falafel balls and while it is sold in Middle Eastern restaurants and take-away shops, you can also find them in the supermarket and even make your own. The chickpeas are soaked overnight in cold water, which enables them to grow in size. They are then ground up along with chopped onion, garlic cloves, parsley, flour, salt, cumin, ground coriander, black pepper and cardamom. The mixture is then shaped into balls and deep-fried in a large vat of oil. The best falafel is crispy golden on the outside and soft on the inside.
How to eat falafel
Falafel balls can be eaten on their own, but are best served in pita bread with hummus or tahini. They are usually packed with tomatoes, cucumbers and sometimes French fries. However, you can be creative! Add feta, roasted eggplant and peppers, yoghurt and sunflower seeds to make a healthier falafel wrap.
The perks of falafel
Besides the fact that falafel is absolutely delicious, there are some other positive traits about the little chickpea morsels. First of all, it is a great plant-based alternative to eating meat and is just as filling. Chickpeas are high in protein and fibre and contain a lot of iron, folate, magnesium, phosphorous and B vitamins. The spices that are used in falafel, such as cumin, cardamom and coriander also hold many antioxidants. If you are making falafel yourself, then there are some cooking tips to make your falafel even healthier. You can bake the balls or if you really want to fry them, try using grapeseed or avocado oil, which don’t emit any carcinogenic fumes when on a high heat. You can also opt for a falafel with the lot, minus the pita bread, which is a lighter version of your favourite dish.
Where to find falafel in Singapore
There are lots of restaurants and cafes in Singapore that serve tasty falafel. Check out Qasr Grill & Mezze Bar, Tabbouleh Lebanese Café and Restaurant and Sahara Bar & Restaurant. They all serve crispy falafel at a moderate price and are rated highly on foodpanda.