Falafel combines the flavors of fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro with spices such as cumin and coriander for a herbaceous and spicy taste. The primary ingredient, usually chickpeas or fava beans, lends an earthy and nutty backdrop to the dish. Garlic and onions add a savory depth, rounding out the complex flavor profile.
What is Falafel?
Falafel is a popular Middle Eastern dish made from ground chickpeas or fava beans that are mixed with various herbs, spices, and onions.
The mixture is shaped into balls or patties and then deep-fried until golden brown and crispy on the outside, while remaining soft and moist on the inside.
Traditionally, falafel is served in a pita bread with vegetables like lettuce and tomatoes, as well as sauces like tahini or hummus.
It is a staple food in many Middle Eastern countries and has also gained popularity worldwide as a vegetarian and vegan-friendly option.
What Does Falafel Taste Like?
The taste of falafel is a medley of flavors and textures, a result of carefully selected ingredients that each bring something unique to the dish.
Herbaceous Notes: Fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro infuse falafel with a green, leafy flavor that adds a refreshing contrast to the deeper, earthier elements. In some recipes, a hint of mint can even be detected, adding yet another layer of complexity. These herbs often give falafel its greenish hue and fresh aroma, and they work in harmony to balance out the richness of the legumes and spices.
Spicy Undertones: Spices like cumin and coriander are almost always present in traditional falafel recipes. They add a warm, spicy undertone that is not necessarily hot, but rich and aromatic. Some variations may also include a dash of cayenne pepper or chili powder, which adds a kick, enhancing the dish’s complexity.
Earthy and Nutty Core: Chickpeas or fava beans form the base of falafel, grounding the dish with an earthy and nutty flavor. These legumes also offer a creaminess when bitten into, a contrast to the outer crunch. They are what make falafel substantial and satisfying, providing not just taste but also protein and fiber.
Garlicky and Oniony Depth: Most falafel recipes include fresh or powdered garlic and onions. These ingredients add a savory dimension to the dish. Garlic brings its own brand of spicy-sweet complexity, while onions offer a slight sweetness and pungency. Together, they create a more robust and fuller flavor profile.
What is The Texture Of Falafel Like?
The texture of falafel is one of its most appealing features, offering a delightful contrast that elevates the eating experience. Here’s a closer look at these contrasting textures and how they’re achieved:
- The outer layer of the falafel is crunchy and crispy, providing an initial textural contrast that many people find satisfying.
- This crispy crust is typically achieved through deep-frying, where the falafel is submerged in hot oil until it reaches a golden-brown hue. The high temperature of the oil rapidly cooks the surface, creating a shell that locks in moisture while becoming delightfully crispy.
- Inside, the falafel is soft, moist, and almost fluffy. This texture complements the crispy exterior, making for a well-rounded bite.
- The interior remains moist due to the inherent water content in the chickpeas or fava beans, as well as the moisture from added ingredients like onions and herbs.
Is Falafel Spicy?
Traditional falafel is mildly spicy due to the inclusion of spices like cumin and coriander. Some variations may include chili powder or cayenne pepper for added heat, but generally, falafel is not considered overly spicy.
Does Falafel Taste Like Chickpeas?
While chickpeas or fava beans are the main ingredients, the added herbs and spices significantly alter and enhance the flavor, making it more complex than just the taste of chickpeas.
What Sauces Go Well With Falafel?
Falafel is commonly served with tahini, a sesame seed paste, or hummus. Other popular options include yogurt-based sauces, garlic aioli, or spicy dips like harissa.
Is The Taste Of Falafel Suitable For Children?
Falafel is generally well-liked by people of all ages, including children. The spices can be adjusted to make it more kid-friendly.
What Do You Eat With Falafel To Complement Its Taste?
Falafel is often enjoyed in a pita pocket with fresh vegetables like lettuce and tomatoes. The freshness of the veggies and the creaminess of tahini or hummus can complement and enhance the complex flavors of the falafel itself.
What Does Falafel Smell Like?
The aroma of falafel is as captivating as its taste. As soon as it hits the frying pan, a medley of scents fills the air. You can detect the earthiness of the chickpeas or fava beans, complemented by the warm, aromatic spices like cumin and coriander.
There’s often also a fresh, green scent from the herbs like parsley and cilantro. Add to that the savory aroma from the garlic and onions, and you get a tantalizing smell that promises a complex and satisfying meal.
What Do You Eat with Falafel?
Falafel is a versatile dish that pairs well with various sides and sauces. Traditionally, it’s served in pita bread pockets, stuffed with fresh veggies like lettuce, tomato, and cucumber. Here are some popular accompaniments:
- Tahini Sauce: A creamy, nutty sesame paste that balances the falafel’s flavors.
- Hummus: Adds a creamy, garlicky touch to the meal.
- Yogurt Sauce: Often seasoned with herbs and garlic, provides a tangy counterpoint.
- Salad: A fresh green salad complements the richness of falafel.
- Pickles: Offer a tangy contrast to the falafel’s earthiness.
- Harissa: For those who like it spicy, this North African chili paste is an excellent choice.
Do Falafels Taste like Hushpuppies?
While both falafel and hushpuppies are deep-fried and share a crispy exterior, their flavor profiles are notably different. Hushpuppies are made from cornmeal and typically have a sweeter, more straightforward corn flavor.
In contrast, falafel is made from chickpeas or fava beans and is seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices, giving it a more complex, herbaceous, and spicy profile.
Do Falafels Taste Like Meatballs?
Falafels and meatballs may share a similar shape and can sometimes have a comparable texture, especially if the meatballs are well-spiced.
However, falafels are plant-based, made from legumes, herbs, and spices, whereas meatballs are made from ground meat. Falafels have a more earthy and herbaceous flavor profile, while meatballs have a meaty, often umami-rich taste.
What Do Green Falafels Taste Like?
Green falafels get their vibrant color primarily from the generous addition of herbs like parsley, cilantro, and sometimes mint. As a result, they often have an even more pronounced herbaceous and fresh flavor compared to regular falafel.
The extra herbs lend a refreshing quality that stands out even more against the earthy backdrop of the chickpeas or fava beans.
Can You Eat Falafel Cold?
Falafel is best enjoyed hot, as that’s when its exterior is crispiest and its flavors most vibrant. However, it can certainly be eaten cold and still be enjoyable.
Cold falafel maintains its essential flavor profile, but you’ll lose some of the textural contrasts, particularly the crispiness of the exterior. Cold falafel can be a convenient snack or added to salads for a protein boost.