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Sprouted Chickpea Falafel Balls

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When I wrote about my Real Sourdough Pita Bread I introduced you to one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Falafel’s Drive In.

A collage of falafel ball dishes with text overlay.

They have that perfect mix of Middle East authenticity and American drive-in. It’s a great combination!

Every time I’m in San Jose, California, I stop in for a falafel or two, a banana milkshake, and some good memories!

Falafel's Drive In marquee in San Jose, California.

I don’t know what they fry their falafels in, I don’t know whether or not they use organic chickpeas or organic flour, and to be honest, I don’t want to know. That would just ruin the magic of the place.

But, I do take these things very seriously, so when I make falafels at home they are always organic, sprouted, and fried in traditional fats!

A bowl of falafel balls with pita and tahini.

Sprouting Chickpeas

This recipe takes some time — the beans are sprouted for 5 to 6 DAYS.

Sprouting beans is pretty straight forward though, and sprouting adds a lot of nutritional benefits.

A bowl of sprouted chickpeas.

By sprouting the chickpeas completely you get a deeply nourishing falafel that has been properly prepared, making it easier to digest, breaking down enzyme inhibitors, and boosting vitamin and mineral content.

A bowl of falafel balls with pita and tahini.

This recipe feeds a crowd, dishing up around 60 falafel balls that are perfect for eating hot or freezing alongside my sourdough pitas for easy re-heatable dinners.

Re-heat frozen falafel balls on a baking sheet in an oven set to 350°F. Cook them just until they are crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes.

A bowl of falafel balls.

Since I live in Oregon now and only get to indulge in my favorite Bay Area falafel joint once or twice a year, I had to come up with my own nourishing falafel recipe.

I’m really happy with the results and I hope you will be too!

A bowl of falafel balls with text overlay.

Perfect Accompaniments to Homemade Falafel

Real Sourdough Pita Bread

Easy Tahini Dressing

Tahini dressing with an olive oil swirl.

Sprouted Chickpea Falafel Balls

Sprouted Chickpea Falafel Balls

Yield: 50
Prep Time: 6 days 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 6 days 2 hours

Properly prepared chickpeas are mixed with the perfect blend of Middle Eastern spices and fried to perfection.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups dried chickpeas

Spice Blend

  • 2 bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 fresh onion
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons cayenne, or chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Oil for Frying

Instructions

Sprouting the Chickpeas

  1. In a large bowl rinse and soak the chickpeas covered with fresh filtered water for 4 to 6 hours.
  2. Drain the beans and rinse them well. Let them sit covered overnight.
  3. The next day, rinse and drain the beans morning and night. Never leave water in the bowl.
  4. Repeat this for 4 to 5 days until the beans have all sprouted and the roots are about 1/2 inch long.

Making the Falafel Batter

  1. Wash and dry the parsley, removing the tough thick stems. Small tender stems are fine.
  2. Working in batches, puree the sprouted beans and parsley in a food processor or food mill. Depending on preference you can leave them a little chunky or puree them very smooth. I prefer the latter. Add the pureed mixture to a large bowl.
  3. Add all the spices, salt, pepper, and lemon juice to the bowl and combine thoroughly.
  4. Set the falafel batter aside.

Frying the Falafel Balls

  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a small, deep sauce pan.
  2. Using a scoop or spoon, roll five falafel balls about the size of a small plum.
  3. Add the balls to the hot oil and cook them for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. If they are browning too fast turn down the heat. They need at least 3 minutes to cook completely through.
  4. While the first batch cooks, roll the second batch and so on until all the balls have been cooked.
  5. Remove the falafel balls from the oil with a slotted spoon or spider. Drain them on a paper-covered plate.
  6. Serve them warm in pitas for falafel sandwiches, on a hummus platter, or on a large salad with tahini dressing!
A close-up of fried falafel balls.

A bowl of falafel balls with tahini.

A pita stuffed with fried falafel balls, tahini, and veggies.

A pita stuffed with fried falafel balls, tahini, and veggies.

A pita stuffed with fried falafel balls, tahini, and veggies next to a bowl of falafel balls.

A bowl of fried falafel balls.

A pita stuffed with fried falafel balls, tahini, and veggies and a bowl of fried falafel balls.

 

Michael

Tuesday 26th of July 2022

I'm making this again and noticed on day 4 that the beans are starting to get almost a sourdough smell. I didn't notice this the first two times and am wondering if you have experienced this and if I should be concerned or not. I put them in the fridge last night and now it is morning of day 5 and I'm trying to figure out if I should use them or throw away.

Michael

Monday 9th of May 2022

this recipe is gold. Hey - one minor quibble - I think the number yielded is off. Haha - I got 25 out of half a batch.

Butter For All

Saturday 14th of May 2022

Thanks Michael!

I think that was supposed to say 12 servings!! I'm not sure why it changed to yield. But I went ahead and updated the yield to 50 because I remember it making at least that many! Thanks so much for noticing that discrepancy. AND, thanks for sticking with this recipe, I'm so happy it worked out for you!

Courtney

Michael

Monday 4th of April 2022

Tried a different falafel recipe that used dried chickpeas soaked for one day. I noticed the chickpeas had already gotten little nubs on some of them indicating they wanted to sprout and thought it would be healthy and interesting to try sprouted ones. Did a search and up came this recipe. I will give this a go soon!

BTW, I am Bay Area transplant to far NorCal and loved hitting up the Falafel Drive-in as well back when living in Sunnyvale. I heard from someone who knew the family that the recipes are all kept secret and well-guarded. If you ever want a hack on their hot sauce, email me since just maybe I accidently figured it out and don't want to publicly spill the beans (as the say).

Thanks

Michael

Thursday 5th of May 2022

@Butter For All,

Just subscribed so you have my email. Hit me up and I will send it to you. And, the email is also entered to leave this comment. Put something in the title about hot sauce or Falafel Drive-in.

Butter For All

Saturday 9th of April 2022

Hey Michael!

I'd absolutely love to try your recipe for FDI hot sauce! While these falafel aren't quite the same as the ones we know and love, I really hope you enjoy the recipe!

Let me know how it goes!

Courtney

Kay

Thursday 21st of January 2021

Has anyone tried baking this?

Butter For All

Friday 22nd of January 2021

Hi Kay!

I don't believe I've had anyone try it yet but I'm sure it would be a great way to cook them. I would personally oil the balls lightly on the outside to keep them from drying out too much. Bake at 350℉ for (I'm guessing here) 15-20 minutes. Let me know if you give it a go!

Courtney

Becky Jean

Saturday 5th of December 2020

REVISED comment:

The flavors were positively OUTSTANDING – the best falafel I’ve ever tasted. THIS RECIPE IS THE BOMB!!!!! Perfect!!!

We're only allowed to eat sprouted legumes, so finding this simply exquisite recipe is a life saver.

Now it's time to eat the WHOLE humble pie. I COOKED the chickpeas, first! Duh!! At least I figured it out. Courtney, I'm sooooooo sorry to leave that mixed review when it was all my fault. Just goes to show that even a gourmet cook of 40 years makes mistakes and eats her share of humble pie.

This remains the best falafel I've ever made. Thank you!

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