Family secret recipe for falafel fritters, falafel wraps, and falafel sauces
It's no secret falafel fritters taste great when deep fried, but air fryer falafels and baked falafel options are great healthy alternatives. These Indian spiced lentil based falafel patties are made with tons of fresh parsley, cilantro, and olive oil. The vegan falafels are then stuffed in a homemade pita pocket with salad to make healthy falafel wraps. Be sure to top them with a mixture of homemade gluten free falafel sauces made with greek yogurt and red bell peppers.
Falafels are lentil based vegan fritters which are fried to a crisp outer layer and then eaten in many different ways such as a salad or a wrap. Although falafels are a Mediterranean Food, my family made their own twist to them after moving to the states in the early 70's. With that said, this recipe is by no means authentic, just my family's take on the delicious dish.
Falafel Fritter Wraps
Falafel Recipe History
It all started in San Jose, CA! A place that exists until this day and one we still visit. My father came to the US in the 70's from the state of Gujarat in India. He worked in the Bay Area for years as a bus boy and then became a business owner as years progressed. One place he and my family always talked about was a Falafel Drive In in San Jose. Because of that original location, my family adapted the recipe I am sharing here today. It by no means compares to the exact taste, but my family's take on Indian and Mediterranean flavors is one to keep on repeat if you ask me.
Life of East Indians in 1970's America
When my parents first moved to the states, many grocery items were not available within an arms reach. For one, different forms of lentils used in Indian cooking had to be adapted with more broad variations such as lentils/masoor. Masoor Dal was available, so they used it for many Gujarati recipes. Instead of having access to certain ingredients as years progressed, they ended up having to adapt even more because of their movement throughout the US into smaller towns and cities. For that reason, this recipe is by no means authentic and has more of an adapted taste with Indian spices based on what may be readily available across the United States.
Ingredients in Indian Inspired Falafels Wraps
The ingredients can vary when it comes to the base of the recipe-lentils. However, everything else remains the same. Fresh cilantro, parsley, chopped onions, ginger, salt, and green chili peppers. These ingredients make up the spices in falafels that are more Indian Inspired.
Vegan Falafel Fritters Recipe
This falafel recipe is naturally vegan. Including my homemade pita pocket bread. We made our own pita pockets growing up, because they were not readily available in Arkansas. It is a recipe that can be made with whole wheat flour or all purpose, whichever you have on hand or meets your dietary restrictions. Be sure to check my falafel sauce recipes and substitute with vegan options if you follow a vegan diet.
THESE FRITTERS ARE MAKING MY MOUTH CRY!
Air Fryer Falafel Fritters
You can air fry these fritters in an air fryer, but I am going to be honest and say fried is just MUCH better. Make patties or oval shaped falafels using oiled hands. Lay them on an air fryer grill and spray them with oil so the coating is even throughout. Air Fry at 400 for 30 minutes flipping once half way through. I prefer them to be crispy, but if you like them a little less cooked then be sure to keep an eye on them.
Healthy Baked Falafels Wraps
This recipe can be baked in an oven, but again fried falafels are just much better and recommended! If you wish to bake then I recommend using a roasting air crisp pan like this one to bake them on. It allows for them to get crisp. If you do not have a pan like that, then placing the patties or oval shaped falafels on top of parchament paper also works well. I bake them at 400 degrees and place the tray in the middle of the oven. Cook for at least 30 minutes and flip half way through so that all sides cook evenly. One tip I can give here is to coat the falafels with oil really well in order to get a crispy outer layer.
How to Make Falafel Fritters
Soak the lentils overnight (8 hours) and grind them the next morning with cilantro, parsley, chili peppers, and ginger. I prefer to let this mixture marinate for a few hours before adding the chopped onions, chopped cilantro, and chopped chili peppers. I add the additional ingredients and then fry them over a stove top in hot oil. Eat them hot by either making a wrap or as is with the sauces listed below.
A favorite when using pita pockets! I love carbs, no lie there and homemade pita pockets save a trip to the store and can save you some money in the long run. Win win, no? They come together quite fast, even though it requires resting time. Plus, Falafel wrap pita pockets can be stored in the refrigerator for days at a time making it a great make ahead meal.
Sauces for Falafels
Sauces are a must for falafel fritters! In fact I make so many different variations of sauces with falafels that can be used with other daily meals as well. It's actually more work making the sauces than anything else, but the labor of love is worth every single bite. Try my take on spicy pepper sauce, mediterranean yogurt sauce, and sour cream based cilantro raita which all pair well together. Make these ahead of time to save yourself some time.
How to make Falafel Fritters more Crispy
Using different types of dried beans and lentils can result in crispy falafels. Try a mixture and experiment with your favorites and you will come to be surprised how amazing they taste. Again, not traditional but my Indian family has many different variations of making them and I can quite honestly say, they turn out to be amazing!
Indian Inspired Falafel Wrap Recipe
Fried Falafel Fritters
- 1 cup dried split green peas
- ½ cup either dried kidney beans, mung beans, garbanzo beans, peas, or urud dal (optional or add ½ cup extra dried split green peas)
- 1.5 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, whole
- ½ bunch cilantro
- ½ bunch parsley
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder (coarse blended)
- fresh green chili peppers (jalapeno, thai chili, serrano, etc), I add 3-4 green Thai chili peppers
ADD BEFORE FRYING
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- ½ medium onion, finely diced
- green chili peppers, diced (optional for extra spice)
- salt (add a bit extra than normal for this recipe)
- pinch baking powder
- 1-2 tablespoon all-purpose flour, if you your batter is too thin to form fritters, then you can add some flour to the dough before frying.
- Soak green split peas and other beans (if using) for 8 hours.
- Blend the soaked lentils, ginger, chili peppers, cumin seeds, ½ bunch parsley, and ½ bunch of cilantro together using minimum water.
- Set the mixture aside until ready to fry.
- Heat the frying oil on your stovetop's medium setting assuring there is enough oil to cover the falafels size you intent to make.
- When ready to fry, add salt, diced chili peppers, chopped cilantro, and diced onion to the mixture. Mix well. Add all-purpose flour if your batter is too runny to form fritters.
- Form small balls, ovals, or patties (your preference) and gently drop them into the oil. I use my hands to do this, but you can use heat resistant/fry proof tongs as well.
- Be sure not to over crowd the oil pan. (I recommend only frying a few at a time)
- Fry for about 3 minutes and place the falafels onto paper towels to soak up excess oil.
HOW TO COMPILE A MEAL
- Enjoy falafels with pita pocket bread, regular pita bread, or even as a salad with your favorite toppings (onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, salsa, hummus, tzatziki, etc.You can also bake or air fry these if you choose. Instructions are written above in the post.
- Enjoy with pepper sauce, yogurt sauce, or Indian Raita
- The mixture can be refrigerated for a few days, but be sure to bring it to room temperature before cooking.
- Feel free to freeze the mixture up to 3 months.
- If baking instead of frying: lay falafel on a baking rack and bake at 375 for about 15-20 minutes. Be sure to coat each falafel with oil to prevent dryness and continue to coat during the baking process.
White Tahini Sauce for Falafels
White Tahini Sauce
- 1 persian cumber, half skinned and chopped into small pieces
- ¼ cup small chopped bell peppers (colors of choice)
- ¼ cup onion, chopped finely
- ½ cup tahini (or grind your own sesame seeds)
- 3-5 cloves fresh garlic, grated/blened I highly recommend fresh garlic
- ½ bunch cilantro, chopped finely
- 2-3 tablespoon chili paste, sambal oelek or grind your own
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- red chili powder (optional for spice)
- Combine all of the ingredients together and mix.
- Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
- Can be refrigerated up to 3 days, but I do not recommend anything more than that.
Red Pepper Falafel Sauce
Red Pepper Sauce
- 3 large red bell peppers
- 10 dried chili peppers (I like to use dried Thai red chili peppers)
- 5-6 large cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- pinch sugar
- Chop the red bell peppers into small chunks and discard the seeds.
- Place the bell peppers and chili peppers in a sauce pan filled with water.
- Boil the peppers for a minute, remove from the heat, and then cover the pot with a lid.
- Let the pot sit for 30 minutes until the peppers soften and cool down.
- Place the peppers, garlic, and remaining ingredients into a blender adding minimal water from the pot.
- Grind into a smooth chutney/sauce consistency trying to add very little water.
- Refrigerate for up to 3-5 days.
- Enjoy with falafels or any other dish as a condiment.
Jalapeno Cilantro Sauce for Falafels
Jalapeno Cilantro Sauce
- 1 cup cilantro, stems and leaves (about 1 bunch of cilantro)
- 1 cup sour cream (see above for substitutions)
- 3 cloves fresh garlic (more or less)
- 1 green chili pepper of choice (jalapeno, thai chili, serrano, etc)
- water (optional)
- Blend the cilantro, garlic, and green chili pepper into a fine paste.
- Mix the blended contents with sour cream and some salt. If you prefer a more dressing like consistency, then add some water and mix well.
- Chill in the refrigerator or enjoy immediately.
My Mom Made this a few years ago and I couldn't get over how crispy they were with the addition of multiple beans. Add a bit of dried but soaked mung daal, kidney beans, or urud dal to get crispy falafel fritters.