Photo credit: Veggie Loaded Falafel Pitas by Domestic Dreamboat
Falafel may be the world's first veggie burger. Now this ancient deep-fried chickpea fritter is hotter than ever.
Falafel has been eaten in the Middle East for thousands of years. Some historians trace the origins to Egypt, where the Copts consumed falafel during the season of Lent. Others believe falafel has been around since the time of the Pharoahs. These bean-based balls or patties were originally made with fava beans, now chickpeas are the most common legume used to make falafel. In fact, falafel is the second most popular Middle Eastern food made with chickpeas -- second only to hummus, which is another food that has enjoyed mainstream status in the U.S.
I've enjoyed both in Lebanon, where falafel is ubiquitous. Falafel is also staple in Palestine, Syria and Jordan, and it's one of the national dishes of Israel (although that has stirred up some falafel debate).
Falafel has become an extremely popular street food in New York, and one of the vendors Halal Guys has just signed an agreement to open 100 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. and overseas. Just Falafel, a chain based in the United Arab Emirates, plans to open 160 falafel restaurants in North America. That tells you falafel is really starting to take off. But now that it's showing up at Subway, you know that falafel has become a mainstream trend.
I also used the new Chronicle tool from the New York Times to take a look at how often falafel was mentioned in the pages of the Times -- which is a great way to track food trends. It seems the chatter about falafel started in the mid-70s, then it really soared.
The number of falafel recipes on Healthy Aperture has also soared. I found 61 different entries for falafel -- creative sandwiches, burgers, salads, bowls, wraps, tacos, pie and more. The falafel was baked and fried, in balls and patties and topped with a variety of sauces, including tahini, tzatziki, yogurt, hummus, and sriracha. Check out these creations from Healthy Aperture bloggers:
Falafel Veggie Burgers by Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes
Falafel Burgers by Girl Makes Food
Falafel Veggie Burgers by Nutritious Eats
Chickpea Veggie Burgers by Domestically Delicious
Falafels with Homemade Pitas and Creamy Tahini Sauce by Feasting at Home
Baked Falafel Lettuce Wraps by Back to Her Roots
Quinoa Falafel with Avocado-Tomato Relish and Yogurt-Tahini Dressing by Domesticate Me
Falafel Pie by Hello Veggy
Crispy Baked Falafel by Cookie + Kate
Falafel Hummus Collard Wraps by Jesse Lane Wellness
Want to get in on the falafel trend? Check out: