Fava Bean Falafel of Egypt

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Middle school. An odd time for all. A highlight of this awkward and confusing time for me was the Egyptian Unit in my World History class. Everyone prepared projects to present at an Egyptian festival, an event attended by the whole school, parents, and the ultra-involved members of the public. Seeing your classmates, boys and girls alike, wear flashy gold necklaces and wristlets, off-color bed sheets draped like togas, dirty wigs, and long dashes of eyeliner in Cleopatra fashion… well, it’s a great equalizer. It was also fun – going to a private school, we saw one another wear the same light blue polo and navy slacks everyday for over eight years. The Egyptian style was a breath of fresh air.

The content of the class is also, for some reason, engrained within me. I remember being captivated by the culture, including the mummification process, the all-powerful and mighty Nile, the discovery of the Rosetta stone, and the infamous dung beetle. Drawing Egypt for our next cuisine adventure was a welcomed trip of nostalgia.

Most falafel you find here is made with chickpeas. The Egyptians are known for their delicious take using the fava bean. The origins of the falafel are controversial, but some believe it originated in Egypt. I had never made falafel before, but was well acquainted with the dish thanks to my old roommate, Amy Balto. She educated me in traditional Jewish foods, including the falafel, and I even got to work alongside her at her family’s Jewish catering service.

Falafel is a bean mixture with a variety of seasonings and spices inside. This recipe includes green onions, leek, coriander, and parsley, along with a delicious sprinkling of sesame seeds. Deep fry each round falafel, and serve with a yogurt sauce (I recommend this recipe’s sauce).Though this particular batch was a little too moist inside (falling apart ever so slightly), the end result was super satisfying and tasty! If you’ve never eaten falafel before, now is the time…

Ingredient List

  • dried split fava beans, covered in cold water and soaked overnight
  • garlic cloves, crushed
  • leek, finely chopped
  • spring onions, finely chopped
  • salt
  • gram flour
  • coriander
  • parsley
  • cumin
  • cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Sesame seeds
  • Oil, for frying (rapeseed, rice bran or sunflower)

For the yogurt sauce

  • plain yogurt
  • tahini
  • garlic clove, crushed
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and black pepper
  • chopped mint

Quick Quotes

S: “I forgot how much I like falafel. I used to eat it all the time in Vienna.”

T: “The falafel mixture was a little too moist and broke apart. I liked the flavor. Filling and my first time making falafel!”

Trivial Trifles

  • The capital of Egypt is Cairo
  • The official language is Modern Standard Arabic
  • Egypt became one of the first nation states in history, developing as early as 10,000 BC
  • Egypt’s population is highly urbanized and highly concentrated along the Nile
  • Ancient Egyptians believed in over 2000 gods
  • Over 130 pyramids have been discovered in Egypt
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