Try this recipe for homemade falafel, then check out our fatteh, muhammara and more Middle Eastern recipes.

John Gregory-Smith says... South along the coast from Beirut is the ancient Phoenician port of Saida, or Sidon. The city is known for its street food and I ended up scouring the sun-soaked medina and sampling incredible cuisine among the heaving hummus stalls and sizzling shawarma bars. But the dish of the day went to the restaurant Falafel Akkawi Saida, which serves the best falafel sandwich in the medina. They nailed it – the combination of crispy fried falafel, creamy condiments, crunchy salad and tangy pickles was out of this world.



  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • a large handful coriander
  • a large handful of leaves flat-leaf parsley
  • 400g chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water and drained
  • 4 tbsp gram flour
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp aleppo pepper, see notes below
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • for deep-frying vegetable oil


  • 8 pittas, split
  • 2 Little Gem lettuces, finely sliced
  • 2 handfuls of leaves flat-leaf parsley
  • 200g pickled turnips or cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp sumac, see notes below
  • to serve tahini
  • to serve chilli sauce


  • STEP 1

    To make the falafels, blitz the onion and garlic in a food processor until fine. Add the herbs and blitz again until finely chopped. Add the soaked chickpeas, gram flour, cumin, coriander, aleppo pepper, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Season with a generous pinch of salt and blitz again for a few minutes to combine. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the food processor and blend again until the mixture combines into a paste. Roll into 30-32 small falafels the size of walnuts.

  • STEP 2

    Fill a pan no more than 1/3 full with oil and heat to 180C or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Cook the falafels, in batches, for 1-2 minutes or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

  • STEP 3

    Serve in the pittas with the lettuce, parsley, pickles, a sprinkle of sumac, a drizzle of tahini and chilli sauce to taste.

Recipes extracted from Saffron in the Souks by John Gregory-Smith (£25, Kyle Books).


Aleppo pepper, or pul biber, is flaked mild red Turkish chilli pepper. Buy from Middle Eastern grocers, online or substitute with a pinch of regular dried chilli flakes. Sumac is made from dried berries and adds a sour tartness to recipes.

Discover more of our falafel recipes here...

Spiced Falafel Burgers Recipe

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