A History of the Iconic Middle Eastern Dish

If you've ever visited a Middle Eastern restaurant, chances are you've come across falafel. These crispy, flavorful balls made from ground chickpeas or fava beans have become a beloved staple in many parts of the world, and for good reason. But how did this iconic dish come to be?. The origins of falafel can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where it was known as ta'amiya. Made from ground fava beans mixed with herbs and spices, ta'amiya was a popular street food that was sold in markets and by vendors throughout the country.

Over time, the dish evolved as it spread throughout the Middle East. In Palestine, for example, falafel was made with chickpeas instead of fava beans, and was often served in pita bread with tahini sauce, pickled vegetables, and hummus.

In Lebanon, falafel was typically made with a combination of chickpeas and fava beans, and was often served with a side of tabbouleh salad. In Syria, falafel was made with only chickpeas and was often eaten as a snack or sandwich.

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Despite these regional variations, falafel remained a beloved food throughout the Middle East, and it wasn't long before it began to gain popularity in other parts of the world as well. In the 1970s, for example, falafel stands began to pop up in New York City, catering to the city's growing Middle Eastern population. Soon, falafel had become a beloved street food across the United States, and could be found in cities and towns throughout the country.

Today, falafel is enjoyed by people of all backgrounds and cultures. It has become a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets, as well as a popular fast food option for those looking for a healthy, flavorful meal on the go.

But despite its global popularity, falafel remains a deeply rooted part of Middle Eastern culture and cuisine. Whether enjoyed as a snack or a full meal, falafel continues to be a beloved and iconic dish that has stood the test of time.

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Here's a recipe for classic falafel:


  • 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil, for frying


  1. Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas and add them to a food processor. Pulse until the mixture becomes coarse.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and baking soda to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture becomes smooth and uniform.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the flour. Stir until well combined.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep frying pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Scoop out a tablespoon of the falafel mixture and shape it into a ball or patty. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
  6. Fry the falafel in batches until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  7. Serve the falafel hot with tahini sauce, hummus, pita bread, and your favorite vegetables.

Enjoy your delicious homemade falafel!