Broad Bean Falafel with Chilli & Coriander

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

A broad bean rissole sounds a pretty grim prospect and not one guaranteed to have your trencher-persons fighting for first place at the trough. Falafel - for our bean rissoles are the very same thing - has a more appealing sound and, when sufficiently spiced, makes a very good vegetarian dish which you eat with warm pitta breads, mixed salad and hot sauce just like doneri kebab. They have the added advantage of being capable of domestic interpretation, whereas your typical lamb doneri - weighing in at 100kg/220 lb or thereabouts - presents an unusually daunting challenge to the private cook.

Properly, they are made from dried white broad beans or chickpeas, depending on where you happen to be in the Middle East. Here, for a change, they are based on frozen fresh broad beans. You can also buy a reasonable falafel mix from Lebanese and Greek delicatessens and it is a good idea to use this the first time you make them, because then you know precisely the consistency you are looking for before deep-frying. As you enliven instant polenta and couscous with judicious applications of herbs and spices, so shop-bought falafel can be easily improved in the same way.

The inclusion of eggs is an inauthentic touch, but one that adds lightness, prevents excessive oil absorption and stops the falafel from falling apart during frying.


  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red onion
  • large bunch of coriander
  • bunch of parsley
  • 2 large red chillies
  • 450 g/1 lb frozen broad beans
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • flour, for dusting
  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying

For the Mixed Salad

  • 12 spring onions
  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil



Dice all the salad vegetables and put them in a bowl.

Toast the cumin, coriander and sesame seeds in a dry heavy pan over a low heat for 2-3 minutes. Grind to a powder and put into a food processor with 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.

Peel and chop the garlic. Peel and dice the onion. Destalk the herbs. Destalk and deseed the chilli and dice. Add to the processor.


Cook the broad beans in water following the packet instructions. They need to be well cooked in order to purée properly. Drain and add to the contents of the food processor.

Whizz, dropping in the eggs one at a time through the feeder tube. Take a tablespoon of the mixture and shallow-fry it in a little oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. You should have a very smooth paste that you can shape with floured hands. If it is too sticky, turn out on to a heavily floured surface and work until it achieves a malleable texture. Leave to rest, covered with a damp cloth, for 30—45 minutes.

Preheat the oil to 180°C/350°F.

With floured hands, take tablespoons of the falafel mix and shape them into balls, then flatten them into a round. Deep-fry in batches until browned and crisp outside, turning them in the oil during cooking. Drain on paper towels and keep warm until all are cooked.


Serve hot with warm bread and harissa, accompanied by the salad tossed at the last minute in the lemon juice, the oil and seasonings.

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