Chickpea Croquettes

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Andalusía was known for its many shops specializing in fried foods. The Sephardic passion for fried foods spread to the Italian Jews, who love a good fritto misto, and to the Middle East as well. Falafel exemplify the Sephardic fritter tradition at its best. These crunchy chickpea croquettes are Egyptian in origin but are now equally popular in Syria and Lebanon, and have become a signature dish of Israel. The crunchy fried falafel are tucked into warm pita bread with chopped tomato, cucumber, and tahini dressing, possibly enriched by a dollop of hummus. Instead of using bread and flour to bind the mixture, some cooks add ½ cup soaked bulgur. Others don’t cook the chickpeas, but merely soak them. I think falafel are better with cooked chickpeas, but you don’t have to cook them for a long time. And, yes, you may use canned chickpeas, though the texture will be softer.

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  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 thick slice rustic white bread, crust removed
  • 2 tablespoons flour, plus about 1 cup for coating
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • canola or vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • pita breads, heated
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • tahinyeh
  • hummus, optional


Put the chickpeas in a 2-quart soup pot, add the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Add the 2 teaspoons salt after 20 minutes of cooking. Drain the chickpeas and reserve the liquid. Grind the chickpeas through the coarse blade of a meat grinder or pulse in a food processor. Add the bread, the 2 tablespoons flour, the baking soda, garlic, egg, and seasonings and mix well. Add salt to taste. Form into 1-inch balls, then flatten each slightly in your hand.

In a deep saucepan or a wok, heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees F. Dip the falafel into flour and deep-fry in batches until golden. Using a skimmer, transfer to paper towels to drain. Tuck into warm pita bread, along with about 2 tablespoons each chopped tomatoes and cucumber, and a generous drizzle of tahini dressing and some hummus, if using.