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Falafel: It's Not Just for Israel Anymore!

Falafel: It's Not Just for Israel Anymore!

Upon returning from a Kesher Birthright Israel trip, some people may be ready for a little break from falafel. This was not the case for my sister Allison and me.

Even though we had eaten falafel once a day while we were in Israel, we were far from sick of our new favorite meal. The days following our return home were spent investigating local restaurants that served “authentic” falafel, but each sample of American falafel ended in disappointment. Most of the falafel we found was too dry and lacked the appropriate toppings. Soon, we gave up on the fantasy of encountering a satisfying falafel at home and instead returned to consuming the usual Lone Star State cuisine of Tex-Mex and all things fried.

One day at work, my sister looked at me, literally on the verge of tears, and exclaimed, “I was just thinking about the fact that I may never have a good falafel again. It’s so upsetting!” One of our coworkers, Ally, happened to overhear our conversation. She informed us that she had been to Israel and has since learned to make falafel that is up to the high standards of someone who has tasted falafel in the Holy Land. Ally offered to teach us how to recreate the meal we had so desperately missed, and of course, we jumped at the opportunity. We made plans to cook with her later that week.

At Ally’s house, we made a variety of Israeli food, including tabouli, hummus, and, of course, our coveted falafel – with all of the proper toppings. Our friend was so kind as to share the recipe with us so we can enjoy this authentic falafel anytime we’re missing Israel. Though nothing will ever compare to the delicious falafel we ate while on our Birthright trip, this is as good as we could ever hope to find in the states.

Here’s the recipe we used, or you can try this recipe from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We hope all who try it enjoy it as much as we do!


  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 1 ½ cups dried flava beans (optional)
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3-5 cloves garlic (I prefer roasted)
  • 1 ½ tbsp flour
  • 1 ¾ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • Vegetable oil for frying (grape seed, canola, and peanut oil work well)

Place all bean ingredients in food processor and process until the consistency is like coarse flour.

Slowly add other ingredients plus 1/2 cup water to processor. For "yellow" falafel, add 1 Tbsp. Tumeric. Do not over-process or it will be the consistency of hummus.

Remove ingredients from mixer and add to separate large bowl. In a separate bowl, add water to the near-dry mix and lightly stir. Allow to soak for 10 minutes and keep in fridge overnight for best results.

Ball and pan-fry.

Yield ~35 falafel

Jane Bernick is an alumna of Kesher Birthright, the Reform Jewish trip organizer for Taglit-Birthright Israel. As a participant on a summer 2013 trip, she traveled with group 639 to Israel. Jane is a junior at the University of Texas majoring in Public Relations. When she is not studying or teaching dance, she loves to spend time with her friends and family in her beautiful home of Austin, TX.

Registration is open for the next round of Kesher Birthright Israel trips. Sign up now to get registration updates for trips departing in winter 2013, spring 2014, summer 2014, and beyond.

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