Falafels are deep-fried balls typical of middle eastern cuisine whose main ingredient is chickpeas. They are often served inside a pita bread together with fresh veggies and several sauces. This is an extremely popular street food available in most cities in the US, Europe, and the Middle East. But, is Falafel vegan?
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Is falafel vegan?
Traditionally speaking, this middle easter dish is fully vegan-friendly. However, at times, brands decide to add ingredients that are not fully plant-based and cruelty-free. So, what is falafel commonly made of?
Which ingredients are commonly found in falafel?
Falafel contains chickpeas, onions, garlic, green chili peppers, and a variety of fresh herbs and spices. However, brands often include other ingredients that are not always fully vegan. For instance, egg, sugar, and artificial flavors. So, let’s discuss these ingredients one by one.
Some ingredients to watch out for
- Sugar: Despite sugar being a plant-based ingredient, the manufacturing process to produce this item often makes use of bone char. This ingredient gives sugar its typical white color, but it is never used in raw or organic sugar. Unfortunately, the problem with falafel brands using this product is that they often do not specify which type of sugar they use in their recipe, meaning there is no way of knowing whether the final product is truly cruelty-free.
- Re-used oil: This is something to pay attention to especially when eating outside. In fact, many restaurants and food stands, tend to fry both meat and vegan products in the same fryer. This can obviously be disturbing for many vegans, so make sure to ask before ordering a meal of falafel.
- Eggs: Unfortunately, some falafel brands decide to use eggs to make sure their dough sticks together when heated. The truth is that, if properly cooked and prepared, falafel does not need this addition. Despite this, many brands still use eggs in their recipe so always make sure to double-check the label.
- Artificial flavors: Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing whether artificial flavors have been made using meat and fish. For this reason, it’s always better to avoid products listing these among their ingredients.
How to make vegan falafel at home
Making falafel at home is relatively easy and can be a wonderful way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon with your family. You can also prepare this recipe in bulk and freeze your falafels for the future, but let’s start from the beginning. To make falafel, you need to start the evening in advance.
Your first step is to soak 400 grams of dry chickpeas in cold water overnight. Keep in mind that chickpeas tend to grow a lot so add enough water. Calculate at least 12 hours before you start working on your falafels.
When you’re ready to cook, rinse the water and give your chickpeas a quick wash. In the meanwhile, cut finely 150 grams of non-spicy green chili peppers, after having removed the seeds, a middle-size onion, a clove of garlic, and a little handful of herbs of your choice. Our favorites are coriander and parsley, but you can also use fresh dill or other herbs based on your personal taste. In the end, you should obtain about three spoons of herbs.
Now you can put all the ingredients in your food processor and add a teaspoon of salt, a bit of cumin, and black pepper. Mix everything for a few minutes until everything is well combined and start forming your balls. If you feel that the dough is too wet, you can add one or two spoons of chickpea flour. Once the balls are ready, you can fry your falafel for about three and a half minutes each, or put them in the oven until they get golden brown for a healthier version. If you want to do this recipe in bulk, go ahead and remember that you can always freeze your falafel after cooking them!
Make the best vegan falafel sauce at home
Now that you’ve made the best falafel, you need dressing. This is why we decided to give you a few options!
Fresh Tahini Dressing
Of course, falafels often go hand in hand with tahini. This is a traditional paste made from sesame seeds which is often added to falafel wraps. In this recipe, we will use it to create a fresh and delicious dressing to serve your falafel.
Let’s start our recipe with tahini. You can either buy it in the supermarket or make your own. If you choose the latter, don’t worry! The process is very simple. Just slightly toast some sesame seeds and then process them in a blender. If obtaining a paste of the right texture is getting difficult, add a few spoons of oil, such as avocado oil, grape seed oil, or olive oil.
Apart from tahini, we will need lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and water. The process is extremely simple. Put all the ingredients in a bowl except for the water and start whisking it vigorously. Once you obtain a good mix, add the water, one spoon at a time, until you reach your ideal creamy texture. And here you are! You just made a gorgeous sauce to serve next to your falafel.
The best veggie sauce for vegan Falafel
This is a perfect recipe if you have a bounce of veggies in the fridge you need to get rid of. The trick is to simply cook everything in a pot on medium heat with some olive oil, a big onion cut into small pieces, and a clove of garlic. It doesn’t matter which veggies you have, whether they are peppers, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, or something else. You will always get a great result with this easy recipe. Just make sure to avoid food like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin, as these will change the texture of your sauce.
Put a lit on top of your pan and wait for roughly ten minutes so that all the veggies get soft. You can now put everything in a food processor and blend it with a pinch of salt and the juice of a lemon. If you want, now you can also add some herbs, like rosemary, parsley, or coriander. Move everything into a bowl and serve it next to your falafel.
Dried tomato hummus for Vegan Falafel
Of course, another great way to serve falafel balls is next to some delicious hummus! In this recipe, we decided to make a unique version with sundried tomatoes.
We start by putting in a mixer 250 grams of cooked chickpeas, together with one or two teaspoons of tahini sauce, a garlic clove, and 40 grams of sundried tomatoes. Before blending everything, don’t forget to also add a drizzle of oil and the juice of a lime. You can now activate your food processor and add a spoonful of water at a time to reach the right texture. In just a few minutes, you will have the perfect side dish for your falafel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is falafel vegan or vegetarian?
Traditionally, falafel is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. However, some brands add ingredients such as eggs, sugar, and artificial flavors that are not always suitable for a vegan diet. For this reason, always make sure to double-check the label or ask for the ingredients list at the restaurant.
Are all falafels vegan?
No, some falafel brands include ingredients such as eggs, artificial flavors, and sugar which are not always fully cruelty-free. In addition, sometimes, in restaurants, falafel is fried together with non-vegan types of food. However, falafel is traditionally dairy-free and does not contain eggs.
Is Subway falafel vegan?
Yes! The falafel at Subway is fully vegan, however, this product is not present in all locations.
Is cava falafel vegan?
Yes! Cava falafels are made from seven main ingredients: chickpeas, salt, parsley, cumin, cilantro, flour, and onion and are therefore fully vegan.
Are Aldi falafels vegan?
Aldi sells different brands of falafel. Some of them are vegan while others aren’t. Always make sure to double-check the label before buying any product from this store.
Are Ali Baba falafel vegan?
Ali Baba sells a variety of falafels. Always check the label before buying your product.