Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Nov 14, 2012 11:50 PM

Falafel and Greek cuisine?

Is there a variation of falafel in "traditional" Greek cuisine? Not necessarily in the sense of 100's of years ago, but rather a natural migration of the dish into Greek food given the various geopolitics of the region.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've not seen falafel or any close derivative of it in Greek food (but I have been known to be wrong).

    After a quick googling, there seems to be something called "Revithkeftedes" which is a chick pea fritter, have not looked at the different recipes to see if there is a difference in them.

    Remember that the huge middle-eastern/greek/turkish area is a melting pot of cultural influence going in all directions all the time for thousand of years.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      Ultimately, I agree that most of the food from Egypt through the Balkans has far more similarities than differences. However, on the last episode of the Next Iron Chef, Marcel was talking about how he thinks of falafel with tzadziki which inspired my question.

      1. re: cresyd

        why not, I can even think of pairing Falafel with BBQ sauce ....

        1. re: Maximilien

          Falafel with mustard is one of my favorite bastardizations.

          1. re: cresyd

            Falafel and oaxacan cheese? I'm down.

        2. re: cresyd

          We have a couple of general Mediterranean fusion fast-food take out places here in Chicago where you can get tzatziki as a sauce for your falafel. Not saying it's good, just that it's there.

      2. Is Falafel even a Greek dish? Or is it something that is popular so Greek restaurants sell it?

        8 Replies
        1. re: Motosport

          Falafel is co sidered a middle-Eastern dish, Moto. At least originally.

          1. re: mamachef

            I know it's Middle Eastern but is it a Greek dish. I don't think Greeks (Europeans) consider themselves middle eastern.
            Just wondering?

            1. re: Motosport

              It's not a Greek dish. See Max's post above.

              1. re: Motosport

                (Supposedly) falafel originated in Egypt and was made with ful. The more popular version with chickpeas originated in the "Arab" world, particularly in the region around where Lebanon is now.

                Falafel with chickpeas is most associated with the Arab world - however like so many foods in the Egypt/Arab world near the Mediterranean/Turkey/Greece, stuff has swapped hands and been appropriated into one another's cuisine. The doner/shwarma/gyro case is one example, stuffed grape leaves are another, etc. Just wanted to know if falafel had gotten a similar treatment or not.

                1. re: Motosport

                  Agreed. It is not a Greek dish. It is an Arabic dish, middle-eastern. I think Greeks consider themselves Mediterranean, not Middle Eastern. Not sure why you think it's a Greek dish?

                  1. re: rockandroller1

                    I never said it was a Greek dish, what I was asking for was if there was a dish similar to falafel in traditional Greek cuisine. Earlier Max had mentioned Revithkeftedes, which sound quite similar to falafel and thus would answer my question.

                    There are a number of dishes that are crossovers and have variations in the region. I just wanted to know if the falafel had made it that far north. I think of tahini as more Arab than Greek - but it's present in Greek food. I think of feta as more Greek than Arab, but it's present in Arabic food. My question isn't about one thing belonging to one culture or not, but just curious about the extent of the regional sharing.

                    1. re: cresyd

                      My response was to Motosports, in which he said "it is a Greek dish." :)

            2. Interesting question. I had never heard of revithkeftedes before but I looked up some recipes. Several do refer to it as the Greek version of falafel but it is also noted it is made with mashed, cooked chickpeas instead of ground dry chickpeas.

              Now that I know that I think I may have had this at a Greek place here. I noted at the time their 'falafel' had a mushy, paste like interior (and I didn't care for it). Given the slipperiness of culinary terminology as noted in other threads here on CH, I'm thinking it was perhaps revithkeftedes I had but they called it falafel so people would have some idea what it was?????

              1. Falafel no. Various recipes which involve frying balls of chick peas, yes. The best known are "pittaroudia", a specialty of the island of Rhodes, but there are others too.
                The main difference with the Arabic falafel is that in greek recipes the chickpeas are never raw and there is no tahini.
                Here is a quick one, using yesterday's leftovers: Mash the cooked chickpeas - sauce, spices and all. Add a generous amount of feta cheese (other crumbly white cheeses with a strong taste will do fine). Add finely chopped parsley and salt, pepper, oregano to taste. Add two eggs, well beaten, and some flour to get a thick consistency, but not so firm as to form balls. Spoon dollops of the mixture into hot oil and fry from both sides. Can be eaten hot (better) or cold. Makes a nice substitute to meat in sandwiches.

                1 Reply
                1. Yer definitely not Greek, but the cuisines are very similar to the middle east in many ways.

                  And generally outside of Greece a lot of Greek restaurants will serve it, quite often just so they have a decent vegetarian offering it seems. Either that or because not many people know the Greek equivalents.

                  Although having been to quite a few places in the Balkan region Falafel is very commonly served.

                  The spice pallets are a bit different mind. But the way things are cooked (think meats) is often very similar.

                  Eg. I took my Greek (from Athens) GF to the local Iranian place, and she did say her the food very much reminded her of home in the way it was cooked etc. As it happens even she didn't actually realise the food was so similar.....

                  And to answer some earlier posts no, Greeks certainly do not consider themselves middle eastern..........

                  But take into account the Ottomon empire (which included both Greece and Egypt) collapsed only about 100 years ago a lot of stuff was transferred around then.