We can all agree that falafel is one of the tastiest foods we have ever tried. There’s something about it that gives us both a unique texture and an explosion of flavor in our mouths. Not to mention, it’s a versatile snack that can be paired with almost anything.
With the growing popularity of Middle Eastern cuisine, it’s also easy to see why there has been an equally growing demand for these tasty fritter balls. And we can’t blame them – that’s just how good it is.
But for the vegan community, there is much speculation as to whether these fritter balls are allowed for their consumption. That’s why we decided to write this article. Here, we will ultimately give you the answer to the popular question: is falafel vegan?
What is a Falafel?
But before we head on to answer that question, we want to give you a brief discussion on what falafel is.
Falafel is a deep-fried fritter ball that’s often made from refined beans. Specifically, it uses chickpeas, fava beans, or a combination of both of these beans. It is considered a traditional food in the Middle East, which explains much of its flavor – a unique flavor that’s rich in herbs and spices.
One of the reasons why falafel has grown in popularity is its versatility. It can be eaten in various ways, which may be as part of a salad, as a patty to a sandwich, as a stuffing to a wrap, or it can simply be topped with your favorite sauces. So regardless of your flavor palette, it can easily be transformed into a likable dish or snack for everyone.
Another reason why falafel is so popular is its nutritional content. This healthy food is a great source of protein, which means it’s good for the muscles. And since it also contains chickpeas, it is also a rich source of fiber. That makes it great for our digestion and overall heart health.
Is Falafel Vegan?
At this point, you are now familiar with what falafel is, and its many benefits for its consumers. But the real question here is: is falafel vegan?
By itself, a falafel is considered vegan. At the heart of it, it simply contains ground beans, herbs, and spices. It is purely plant-based, so you don’t have to worry about it secretly containing ground meat or any animal byproduct. Thus, the falafel alone is vegan-friendly.
However, we should also answer this question cautiously.
As we have previously mentioned, falafel is quite versatile since it can be eaten in so many ways. As such, some restaurants may serve their falafel wraps or salads with dairy-based sauces. And that’s the time when we cannot consider it vegan.
So to be safe, we recommend always asking the restaurant if their falafels are vegan-friendly. Or better yet, you can opt to request a vegan-friendly serving of this delicious dish.
How to Make a Vegan Falafel
But to be even more sure that what you’re eating is perfectly safe for vegan consumption, why not make your falafel? It’s quite easy to do, especially since we’ll guide you with how to make them below.
For this tutorial, you simply need the following ingredients:
- Drained chickpeas or fava beans, or both
- Cracked black pepper
- Chopped red onion
- Chopped cilantro
- Chopped parsley
- Chopped garlic
- Chili powder
- Olive oil, enough for frying
Once you have gathered all of these ingredients, we can now start making falafel.
- We start by processing all the spices and herbs with salt and pepper in a food processor. Our goal here is to process them as finely as possible, and that could take about a minute or so. It’s also essential to stop and scrape out some of the spices that get stuck to the sides to make sure everything is evenly processed.
- Once you’re done processing the spices, you can now add your drained chickpeas or fava beans. Then, process again until it creates a paste-like texture.
- With your beans and spices mixture ready, you can begin transferring the same to a bigger bowl. Then, dust it with flour and mix thoroughly. Dust more flour onto the mixture if it still looks too pasty, and mix them again. The goal here is to make sure the flour is evenly and thoroughly incorporated into the mixture to create a mixture that’s not too moist.
- Once you’re satisfied with the texture, we can now start scooping the raw falafel balls. The size of each ball depends on how big you want it to be. Then, place these balls on a baking sheet for refrigeration.
- After around 30 minutes in the refrigerator, you can take out your raw falafel balls and start deep frying. While cooking, the falafels mustn’t be crowded – otherwise, they might stick together and not cook thoroughly.
If you prefer patty-shaped falafels, you can opt to grease your hands with olive oil before pressing each ball down with your hands. Then, you can fry them as to how you would fry burger patties.
- Once the falafel turns to a golden-brown color, take them out of the pan and allow the oil to drain. The next step is to serve it with non-dairy cheesy, vegan yogurt sauce, sliced cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion.
And that’s it – you can now enjoy your vegan falafel.
How to Make Sure the Falafel is Vegan
While we have already taught you how to make a vegan falafel, there may be instances when you still want to eat out with friends. When this happens, you have to make sure that what you’re eating still falls within vegan standards.
So before we end this article, here are some tips that will help you make sure that the falafel you’re about to eat is indeed vegan.
- Ask if the falafel is made with plant-based ingredients.
- Ask whether you can get non-dairy cheese with your falafel.
- Inquire whether the sauce is dairy-based or not.
- But most importantly, you must ask if the falafel they are serving is vegan, and whether or not they serve a vegan alternative.
All things considered, while falafel is generally considered vegan, some of the garnish that goes around it may not be. So the best way to know is to be proactive and ask people whether it fits your lifestyle or not. That is the only sure way to know.