Falafel with Tahini Sauce

These falafel are made with chickpeas, dried fava beans, and spices, and are served with a creamy tahini yogurt sauce. As delicious as anything you’d find at a middle Eastern restaurant or your fave falafel food truck.

A white bowl of falafel with tahini sauce and pita in the background.

Falafel with tahini sauce is one of the best-known Middle Eastern “fast foods” in the United States and around the world. Moishe’s Lebanese recipe, voted a city favorite, is made with a combination of fava beans and chickpeas (garbanzo beans) that gives the falafel patties a dense, meaty flavor. They fry them just right—crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the middle with a nice balance of herbs and spices.–JoAnn Cianciulli

Falafel with Tahini Sauce

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 35 M
  • 50 M
  • Serves 4
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Ingredients

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  • For the tahini sauce
  • For the falafel

Directions

Make the tahini sauce

Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Process on high speed to make a smooth and creamy sauce.

Tester tip: If ths tahini sauce becomes thick as it sits, mix in a little more water or lemon juice to thin it prior to serving.
Make the falafel

Place the dried chickpeas and fava beans in separate bowls and add enough cool water to cover by 2 inches to each bowl. Soak the beans in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or up to 1 day. The beans will swell to double their original size. Drain and rinse the beans separately.

Place the soaked chickpeas in a food processor and process until well ground and about the consistency of cornmeal. Scrape the chickpeas into a large bowl. Process the fava beans in the same way and add them to the bowl with the chickpeas.

Add the onion, bell pepper, parsley, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper to the bowl. Mix thoroughly by hand until the ingredients are well combined. Cover and refrigerate while you heat the oil.

Pour oil into a countertop deep fryer, cast-iron skillet, or deep, heavy-bottomed pot to a depth of about 3 inches and heat to 360°F (178°C) over medium heat. This could take as long as 15 minutes.

Add the baking powder to the falafel mixture and toss with your hands to blend. Roll the falafel mixture into 16 balls (about the size of Ping Pong balls). Gently press and pat each ball with your fingers to flatten them slightly.

Carefully slip a few falafel at a time into the hot oil, using a slotted spoon, skimmer, or chopsticks to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom. Don’t crowd the oil. Fry, turning as needed, until the falafel are crisp and golden on all sides, about 2 minutes per batch. As they’re finished, transfer the falafel to a platter lined with paper towels to drain.

To serve, open a pita bread like a book, making sure not to split it completely apart. Scatter a handful of lettuce on one side of the bread, followed by a couple of slices of tomato. Put 4 falafel in a row on top. Drizzle with the tahini sauce. Serve immediately with the pickled turnips, if using. Originally published September 15, 2009.

Print RecipeBuy the L.A.'s Original Farmers Market Cookbook cookbook

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    What You Need To Know About Dried Fava Beans And Tahini

    • The beans for the falafel need to soak for at least 12 hours, so do plan ahead. Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are a staple in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. They resemble oversized lima beans with a tough skin that needs to be removed before cooking. Sold fresh or dried, fresh fava beans are seasonal and primarily available in the spring but dried can be found yearround. For ease, look for dried fava beans that are already peeled, sometimes labeled “habas,” as peeling the outer shell can be a chore. Dried fava beans can be purchased at natural food stores and international markets.

      Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds, similar to peanut butter. The creamy paste is used in many Middle Eastern dishes such as tahini sauce and hummus. It’s sold in jars and available at natural food stores and international markets as well as most grocery stores.

    Recipe Testers Reviews

    I make falafel at least twice a month. It’s always a crowd pleaser. I thought my current recipe was the best. I have to say I loved, loved, loved this recipe. I think I will be using this falafel recipe from now on.

    I’ve found that one of the big problems with making falafel is that if you process the beans too finely, the falafel patties will fall apart in the oil. I didn’t have a problem with this recipe. All my little guys were firm and stayed that way when fried.

    In terms of the flavors, I never added fava beans along with my garbanzos to a falafel before. I didn’t know what I was missing. It adds another layer of flavor to the dish. And of course, who doesn’t love tahini sauce? Simple, creamy, nutty—delicious! This is an easy, quick, and savory meal.

    If you’re looking for a meatless sandwich option, try this Middle Eastern falafel. These fried bean-based patties give a lively bite thanks to the spicy combination of garlic, coriander, and cumin. This trio works brilliantly to heighten the nutty flavor in the beans and accentuate the sweetness in the green pepper and pungency in the onion.

    Tuck these falafel in pita bread filled with lettuce, tomatoes, and a drizzle of sauce and you’ll have a fabulous sandwich. They’re a perfect summer dish but can be eaten anytime of the year.

    I know I’ll be making them again really soon.

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    Comments

    1. I have only recently learned to make my own tahini. It’s a great thing to know how to do because 1) it’s super easy, 2) it’s really fresh without any preservatives or emulsifiers and 3) and, possibly the most important, you don’t have to spend 20 minutes recombining the oil and the solids in a jar that’s been sitting in your fridge.

      So here it is (get a pad and pen) (no, seriously, you won’t even be able to forget this): toast hulled sesame seeds in a small skillet until they’re fragrant. Let them cool for a few minutes. Put them in a food processor. Grind them fine. Add olive oil in small amounts and purée to create a peanut butter-like consistency.

      I use a mini food processor so I can do a 1/2 cup of sesame seeds at a time. That way I use it all and don’t have to do the dreaded stirring next time I want some.

      Toast your sesame seeds as dark as you prefer. Do it a couple times and you’ll learn if you want a dark smokey flavor or simply a light toasted one.

      This will really up the game of your hummus. And there will be one less thing taking up space in your fridge.

    2. I just made this recipe, and wonder if you could tell me if the balls of falafel were supposed to be mushy when served. Mine were! They seemed to fall apart while I was frying them, and I wondered if it could be because I 1)used canned chick and fava beans or 2)blended all the ingredients except the baking powder in a food processor. Thanks for any feedback, as I am a newbie at these sort of recipes!

      1. Hi Kathleen,

        It sound like the beans may have been over processed. Next time try pulsing the beans until they reach a cornmeal like consistency, then blend in the remaining ingredients by hand. Hope this does the trick!

        Beth

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