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Falafel: canned chickpeas, or soaked, dried chickpeas?

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I've decided I'd like to try and make my own falafel - but am not sure which way to go.

I can find recipes which call for canned chickpeas, and recipes which call for soaked, dried chickpeas (but not cooked). I even found a recipe that called for chickpea flour. I imagine that the end result between all 3 recipes would be quite different.

Does anybody with prior falafelling experience have any comparisons to note? I'd greatly appreciate your opinions.

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  1. Felafel I always use dried, the one time I used canned they fell apart. Hummus I always use canned though, it's not so critical there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: coll

      Thank you coll - I was a bit unsure because the dried soaked chickpeas were not cooked (in the recipes I round), but I just tried a couple (soaked about 10 hours) and they were yum!

      I'm a bit loath to eat too many (before cooking) though, I wonder if I'd end up with a bad case of gas!

    2. Didn't know you could start with raw ones. If your recipe works out, could you post it?

      4 Replies
      1. re: jvanderh

        Dried, soaked 24 hours. NEVER canned.
        Scroll down to second recipe. These are great!!

        http://www.madriverkitchen.com/

        1. re: shaebones

          Yeah - I did read in a comment somewhere that the canned ones end up too wet and can fall apart - but strangely most of the recipes I've come across so far are for the canned type!

          Thanks for the link - I will investigate :)

          1. re: shaebones

            Cool, thanks! This post is timely-- I've got some dried chickpeas that I wanted to make into falafel this weekend, but it all seemed too time-intensive.

          2. re: jvanderh

            I will :)

          3. add me to the dried and soaked never canned group.

            3 Replies
            1. re: rasputina

              Methinks the canned group is going to be rather small, judging by early replies. Thanks for your input!

              1. re: ursy_ten

                Well, in the interest of devil's advocacy, canned is a heck of a lot faster, and I think that metallic taste may be undetectable by the time you season and cook them. But, if you've got the time and inclination, dried is cheaper and may taste better.

                1. re: jvanderh

                  Sure! One of these days, I think I'll try a side by side comparison.

            2. There are Many previous topics on falafel and hopefully the search engine will let us find them.

              I've had good results with both canned and soaked/cooked dried chickpeas. Many people will advise you to rinse and rub the chickpeas together in order to remove the skins. The above MadRiverKitchen recipe is intriguing but non-traditional (baked).

              My important success factor was to avoid blandness by adding enough fresh, minced herbs like parsley and scallion. While mashing the ingredients together I might add a little chickpea flour just to help bind things together. I prefer to shape them into 'hockey pucks', let them set 'for a while' and then pan fry them in ~1/4 inch of olive oil (easier for me than deep frying).

              EDIT - found Chow recipe: http://www.chow.com/recipes/25796-fab...

              2 Replies
              1. re: DiveFan

                During a brief stint as a raw foodist, I made falafel using chickpeas that I'd soaked and sprouted from dried organic chickpeas. I then ground them in my food processor with the appropriate herbs, spices and seasonings, formed balls and dehydrated them at a low temperature for days. They were delicious! I'd do it again, but I'd use a higher temperature in my dehydrator, as I'm not married to the laws of raw. It was an interesting and healthy alternative to the deep fried method. Sprouting the chickpeas was an interesting and worthwhile, though time consuming project.

                To make the more traditional version, I'd suggest a mix of chickpeas and fava beans. The fava beans are tasty and add an interesting green hue. Israeli recipes tend to be chickpea-oriented, while Lebanese recipes lean toward fava beans. I think a mix is best, for flavour and texture. You be the judge. Favas need to be peeled of their tough skins, though, so they add a bit of work. Whatever you do, avoid the boxed mixes. They produce a radically inferior product.

                1. re: 1sweetpea

                  Interesting! If I have some leftover falafels. I'll put them in a slow oven overnight and see what transpires.

              2. Gonna try this recipe soon. Just made hummus today using dried, soaked, pressure cooked chickpeas. Delicious. Now have to go buy some more dried chickpeas.

                1. Thanks everyone for your contributions! I tried a falafel experiment so I thought I'd post it here for anyone who was interested.

                  I made one batch of this recipe (dried, soaked chickpeas)
                  http://www.sooogood.org/iraqi_food_re...

                  And *tried* to make one batch of this recipe because it intrigued me.
                  http://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes_de...
                  It uses chickpea flour. I thought besan would be an adequate substitute, since besan is, after all, chickpea flour. Well, it didn't work, it was like a thick paste. So the can of chickpeas that I was planning to use for a third recipe in the experiment got blended up with this recipe just to save it.

                  I'll have to do the canned one another time.

                  I had also planned to do fried vs baked, but I got home late from work, headachey and tired - so I just fried them all.

                  Recipe number one (dried, soaked beans) was lighter textured, with a crisper crust and lovely greenish tinge inside. The chickpea flavour was nutty and subtle.

                  Recipe number two (besan flour and canned chickpeas) was more brownish inside, and the outside didn't really crisp up. The texture was heavier, and doughier (totally to be expected). It tasted a lot more "chickpea-ish" (though I have to admit, I've had more canned chickpeas than dried, so that descriptor could just be a reflection of this fact).

                  The verdict:
                  Daughter: liked recipe 1 (dried) better for the texture, and liked recipe 2 (besan/canned) for the flavour.
                  Husband: liked them both, but recipe 2 a bit better than recipe 1 (probably understandable, he sometimes eats a can of chickpeas for lunch, just the chickpeas by themselves)
                  Me: I liked recipe 1 the best, for the texture and flavour. I found recipe 2 a little bit heavy and stodgy, and I really liked the subtle nuttiness of recipe 1.

                  So, I think next experiment might be to marry the two recipes together and see what I get! Hopefully that way everyone in the family is happy and I won't have to make 2 different recipes every time I decide to make falafel!

                  Oh, but I still have to do the dried vs. canned...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ursy_ten

                    Thanks for reporting back!

                    1. re: jvanderh

                      No problems - I'll try to remember to post my findings for future experiments too :)

                  2. I checked out this really fun and flavorful take on falafels and was truly surprised by the results.
                    Ever make a falafel on a waffle iron? Meet Fawaffles: http://nofaceplate.blogspot.com/2011/...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: HillJ

                      Ooh! You know, I've been wanting a waffle iron for awhile - now I have one more reason to get one :)

                      1. re: ursy_ten

                        I ate the leftovers with cucumbers for breakfast! I would definately make these again.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          Thanks for reporting back - they look great!

                    2. So I bought some more chickpeas on Wednesday, soaked them overnight and made this recipe yesterday. (I left out the lemon because I forgot it).

                      http://www.madriverkitchen.com/2011/0...

                      Baked them off under a broiler. I like my falafel's crispy so I cooked them a bit longer and they dried out a bit but still tasty.

                      It's Friday!!!! I had some falafel mix leftover and took some black beans which I have on hand, mashed them up, added the mix, some Frank's red hot sauce and worcestershire sauce. Fried them in a pan for a veggie burger (no bun) with shredded lettuce w/lemon dressing, tomato and some homemade hummus. It was sooo good.

                      So make extra mix next time and make yourself a veggie burger for another meal.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: LUV_TO_EAT

                        Great idea! Do you have any preference between broiled and fried for texture, etc? (I know the second time had extra things in it... but still, I'm interested)

                        1. re: ursy_ten

                          I liked the fried better...perhaps the oil gives it little extra something (I like crispy crust). Broiled is healthier though. Gonna tried broiled again but for the twenty minutes as per the recipe.

                          1. re: LUV_TO_EAT

                            Yeh, I like the crispy crust too - but like you, I'm trying to be a health conscious.
                            Thanks for your thoughts!

                      2. The different forms of chickpeas produce different textures and tastes. Canned chickpeas are already cooked and good for hummus and cutlets. Chickpea flour is used for pakoras (baji). Raw dried chickpeas are soaked and ground to make falafel.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: shaun theewe

                          The important difference is not dried vs. canned, but raw vs. cooked. The metal can taste has nothing to do w/ the inferiority of canned chickpeas for falafel. The problem is that the street food known and loved as falafel is made w/ UNCOOKED chickpeas and/or fava beans, fresh or dried and reconstituted by soaking--NEVER precooked before forming the balls or patties. CANNED ARE COOKED.

                          Those "recipes" that call for canned chickpeas and lots of breadcrumbs and/or flour to create a fritter that will hold together while being fried taste watery and bland compared to the real thing no matter how you season them. They don't deserve the name "falafel" IMO. Ditto any recipe that suggests pressure cooking the chickpeas/beans. The abominations that result are to real falafel as Chef Boyardee spaghetti-os is to true pasta w/ marinara sauce.

                          Any questions?

                          1. re: Stein the Fine

                            The person you replied to said that raw chickpeas are used for falafel, and this was also discussed extensively upthread when the question was asked.

                            1. re: jvanderh

                              I was expanding on shaun theewe's post, and clarifying that the need for uncooked chickpeas in falafel is an issue of FUNCTION and authenticity, not a matter of opinion or taste. And I checked, no other poster made this point. I was trying to spare cooks like ursy_ten from wasting time and ingredients, including a whole lot of frying oil.

                              Does your post have any other point than to tell me I had no right to post mine?