The falafel is a deep fried chickpea fritter, commonly served in a pita with pickled veggies, tahini (sesame paste), and assorted fresh veggies. Although often served as a sandwich, the falafel can be served without the pita as part of mezze which is a selection of small dishes often served in the Middle East. The falafel is ubiquitous throughout the Middle East, and may be found by street vendors all over. Here at Dine In we love anything stuck between bread, especially when it is delicious and healthy like a falafel. If you have never tried a falafel think of it as a vegetarian version of a hamburger and better tasting than a veggie burger.
The falafel was first made in Egypt during pharaoh times. It seems to of developed in Arab and Jewish communities within Egypt simultaneously. Currently, falafel is the national dish of Israel. Its popularity as a street food could have been easily predicted when considering how quickly it could be made and the wonderful convenience of munching a slew of great stuff housed within a pita. It is obviously a perfect food on the go because of this fact.
The perfect falafel must have two things if it has a chance of being considered great. First off, the deep fried chick pea fritter, which is the main part of the filling, should be as crispy as possible on the outside and somewhat moist and malleable on the inside. Often times when the falafel balls are not cooked properly the inside will become overly dry and mealy. Secondly, the falafel should feature the chick pea fritter and not mask it. Many times proprietors try to save money by overfilling the falafel with lettuce and tomatoes without understanding that the accoutrements such as tahini and veggies should take a back seat to the crispy salty fritter.
According to popular social media site famecount, the falafel has its own fan page on social media tool facebook. There are currently 34,862 fans of the falafel on facebook. Mind you, this is a deep fried chick pea fritter we are talking about. This facebook fan page has grown an estimated 6.35% per month since its inception. The amazing part about this statistic is that less than .2% of actual facebook people have as many fans.
In New Zealand there are some real sure fire places to get a texturally perfect and well seasoned falafel sandwich. One of my favorite places for falafel is the Pita Pit in Palmerston North. They serve breakfast, brunch and fast food throughout the day. They are an ode to all things pita, and their falafel is spectacular. They hit the nail on the head by offering perfectly seasoned falafels that are incredibly moist and crispy at the same time. They fill the pita up with the perfect amount of veggies and their house made tahini sauce, and at 7.90 the price can’t be beat. The pita in this place always comes out hot and fresh, and other Middle Eastern favorites such as hummus and babaganoush are as authentic as can be.
I first discovered falafel when an ex-girlfriend of mine from Lebanon had me over to her family home. She did not have to convince me much to eat it because the aroma from her mother’s kitchen was absolutely ethereal. Since that, I have been falafel crazy and love it with some rice on the side.