Why does My Falafel Fall Apart?

So you’ve made some falafel but instead of getting a bunch of those gorgeous green balls, you end up asking yourself that dreaded question, why does my falafel fall apart?

If this sounds like you, relax, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s the most commonly asked question about less-than-perfect homemade falafels.

But it’s also easy to fix.

There are a couple of reason which can cause the falafel-fall-apart situation. And a couple of tips that will raise your falafel-making skills to the next level.

It isn’t difficult to make falafel balls, it just takes a little bit of time and attention to detail. And there’s also a big difference between ok falafels and OMG falafels if you know what I mean.

So, Why does My Falafel Fall Apart?

The main reason why falafels fall apart is that the mixture’s too wet and the main reason for the mixture being too wet comes from using pre-cooked chickpeas.

Don’t make falafel with canned chickpeas or pre-cooked chickpeas in a jar. Instead, use dried chickpeas soaked in water overnight, without any cooking. This keeps the mix drier and the balls will hold together better.

And they taste better too.

Once the falafel mix is ready, set it aside in the fridge for an hour before making the falafel balls. That way the starch has time to release and bind, helping the balls to hold their shape.

If you fry your falafels, having the oil too hot can also make the falafel balls break apart. And too cold oil will destroy them too.

Do’s and Don’ts of Making Falafel

  • Do: use dried chickpeas, soaked overnight.
  • Do: blend the drained, soaked chickpeas
  • Do: let the falafel mix sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before forming the balls
  • Don’t: use pre-cooked chickpeas
  • Don’t: cook the dried chickpeas before making the falafel balls
  • Don’t: turn the falafel balls until they’ve formed a crunchy coating

Should I Deep-Fry My Falafel?

The traditional recipe for falafel is deep-fried. And there’s no doubt that the authentic falafel balls we fell in love with from the first moment we set eyes on them (or rather, our taste buds), were deep-fried.

But that doesn’t mean you have to deep-fry your falafel.

Sure, the flavour of deep-fried falafel is different to oven-baked or air-fried falafel.

But no matter how much more authentic it is, that’s not a reason you have to do it (unless you want to of course).

I don’t believe in clinging to something because it’s traditional. Whatever you do should also make sense health-wise. And we know there’s a healthier alternative that also tastes delicious, so why not make the switch and ditch the frying?

I’m not saying I never eat fried falafel. I do. And I love it. But I leave it for special occasions (like when I’m visiting Bristol for example!).

So if you crave the deep-fried version of falafel balls, why not save it for when you’re out and about and you can pick up a falafel snack in town?

Should I Add Flour to My Falafel to Stop it from Falling Apart?

One quick-fix that people use to help their falafel stay together is adding some chickpea flour to the mix. But the flour deadens the character of the falafel and gives it a heavy consistency.

If you follow the steps in this recipe, there’s no need to add flour to the mix.

Should I Add Baking Soda to My Falafel Mix?

Baking soda softens the chickpeas, giving a lighter texture to the falafel.

Personally, I don’t add baking soda to the falafel mix because I’m fine with their texture straight out the soaking session. But it’s always an option if you prefer the softer results.

For adding baking soda, wait until the falafel mix is done, then add half a teaspoon of baking soda to the mix and let it sit for another 15 minutes or so.

Can I Freeze My Falafels?

I confess that I don’t freeze mine because I always want to eat them all as soon as they’re cooked. I love falafels!

But yes, you can freeze them, no problem. Bear in mind that falafel are best eaten straight after cooking, but it isn’t impossible to freeze them.

After cooking, let them cool, then freeze them separately so that they don’t stick to one another before adding them all to a bag and closing.

To reheat the falafels you can put them directly in the air-fryer or in the oven.

Frozen falafel will never taste like fresh falafel.

Alternatively, freeze the balls before cooking. The balls are fragile, so freeze them carefully spaced out on a tray. Then mix together once frozen. To reheat, place straight into the air fryer and cook until golden brown.

Why do My Falafels Taste Boring?

It’s pretty important to make sure there’s enough garlic, chilli, spices and herbs when you’re making the falafel mix.

It’s easy to get carried away and forget to check, only to find that the falafels taste a bit boring.

The easy remedy is to spice up the flavourings.

How to Make Super-Easy Falafels that Don’t Fall Apart

Roughly chop your ingredients – dried chickpeas, garlic, fresh cilantro and fresh parsley, 1 onion, slosh of olive oil, cumin, chilli and coriander powder and salt and pepper.

Add it all to your blending container and blend until you have a thick mixture and the chickpeas have been blended into a grainy, almost-smooth past.

At this point, check that you’ve added enough salt and spices for the flavour to come through. You can taste the mix to check for the spicy flavour, though obviously it won’t taste yummy yet.

Transfer the mix to the fridge and leave it alone. You can pre-prepare the mix up to 48 hours in advance.

Next, take out the mix and form the falafel balls by rolling small blobs between the palms of your hands. The mix won’t be like a dough, it’s much looser and softer.

Place the balls into the air-fryer and turn on at 190ºc for 5-6 minutes. Turn the balls over and cook for another 5 minutes. Be careful when turning the balls over. If they’re not ready to be turned, cook for another minute and try again.

Et voila! Delicious every time!

Serve with a tahini sauce, hummus, cilantro sauce or cashew nut sauce.

Why does My Falafel Fall Apart?

Recipe by SorayaCourse: Side dish, MainCuisine: Street food, Middle EasternDifficulty: Average
Servings

18

balls
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

10

minutes
Resting Time

60

minutes

Falafel balls are easy to make when you’ve made them a few times, but they take a bit of attention to detail and can be time consuming.

Ingredients

  • 100 g dried chickpeas

  • 1 small onion

  • 2-4 cloves garlic

  • Slosh of olive oil

  • 1 cup fresh parsley

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro

  • 2 tsp cumin powder

  • 2 tsp coriander powder

  • Chilli powder or cayenne pepper to taste

  • salt & ground black pepper

Directions

  • Blend all the ingredients together in your food processor
  • Taste and add more spices if necessary
  • Transfer to the fridge and leave it to stand for at least an hour
  • Form small balls and place into the air fryer
  • Cook for 5-6 minutes on 190ºc or until they are hard enough to turn over without breaking
  • Turn the falafel balls and cook for another 5 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  • Serve on a bed of salad with a tahini sauce or a cashew nut sauce.

Notes

  • You can add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the falafel mix for a softer chickpea texture.

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