Fantastic Falafel Waffles

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Falafels. These definitely sit at the top of my list for most attempts at a healthy makeover and at the bottom of the list of success. How to get them crisp without deep frying? How to get them to hold together without eggs? What is the right balance of herbs and spices? Why are they so darn delicious at a restaurant and so darn underwhelming at home?!

First, it involves NOT cooking your chickpeas. Nope. Not even for a second. Of course I know that this is the traditional way to do it,  but I was skeptical for some reason. Skeptical that I wouldn’t turn into a giant, human gas factory. Any of you have had the misfortune of eating poorly cooked legumes will understand what I’m talking about. It’s pretty uncomfortable. And not just for you. BUT! Miracle of miracles, this did not happen, and on top of a happy tummy, my falafels came out crisp, deliciously spiced, and they didn’t fall apart at all.

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The chickpeas must start out raw and they must be soaked for 24 hours. Make sure to add an acidic medium to the water ( I use lemon juice or apple cider vinegar), give them a good rinse after draining, and you should be okay. I used chickpea flour as a binder, instead of all-purpose flour (duh) and this worked great to hold it all those tasty ingredients together. If you can’t find chickpea flour, try another gluten-free flour, which I’m pretty certain will work just as well. Fresh herbs are also a must for flavour – I chose both flat-leaf parsley and cilantro – so that the “dough” will look rather verdant once blended up.

The second trick is contact with high heat. Deep frying gives us the most crisp and delicious falafels, but it also gives us a whole host of un-want-ables, like oxidized fats and free radicals. Boo. You can cook falafels in the oven, but the dough is never going to get super crisp because the heat is surrounding the falafel instead of connecting directly with it. Again, boo. Enter: the waffle iron. A waffle iron uses high heat that can come into direct contact with the dough, and with minimal fat. Plus it’s fun to say. Falafel Waffle. Obviously, this was meant to be.

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Chickpea Party Tricks
We all know that chickpeas are fiber all-stars, providing 50% of your RDI in just one cup, (whoa!) but they have another party trick up their sleeve that I bet you didn’t know about. Two-thirds of the fiber in chickpeas is insoluble, meaning that it doesn’t break down during digestion, but instead moves through our digestive tract unchanged until it hits the large intestine. The fun starts here, where friendly bacteria (think probiotics!) go to town on said insoluble fiber and actually break it down to create short-chain fatty acids, including acetic acid, propionic acid, and butyric acid. These short-chain fatty acids can then be absorbed by the cells that line the wall of our large intestine and used for energy! How rad is that?! Butyric acid is in fact the preferred source of energy for the cells lining our colon, and with this bonus fuel comes greater potential for optimally active and healthy cells. This translates into a reduced risk of colon problems including colon cancer. So friends, invite chickpeas to your next dinner party – they’ll feed you and your colon cells. Can your pot roast do that?

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I cooked several (ahem) of these waffles over the course of my day, you know, for research purposes.  The ones I made first were the lightest and the crispiest. I still liked the ones that I cooked later on, but I found their consistency was a little dense and chewy, so I recommend using up the dough right away instead of making it ahead of time.

I made a couple little extras to accompany the Falafel Waffles, but these are merely (really delicious) suggestions. The Bright Cabbage Slaw take about 2 minutes to whip up, and lends a welcome, acidic top note to the dish as a whole. Try the Harissa Tahini Sauce as well – it’s savoury, creamy, and a little bit spicy. I was inspired by the one Jessie made over at Faring Well – thanks for the spark! Serve the falafels with whatever else you have on hand; avocado is really tasty, sprouts, fresh chilies, pickles, roasted veggies etc. You can also toss a falafel waffle into a pita or wrap if you want to take it to go, or serve them on top of a bed of whole grains for an even more substantial meal.

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Show me your falafels on Instagram! #MNRfalafelwaffles

65 comments

  1. MPaula

    I love the phrase you used “thanks for the spark!”. Another good phrase: thanks for the germ (of an idea). Sometimes it takes very little to send the mind on a journey of discovery.

  2. Hefeden

    These are one of our favorite things to eat; my teenagers often request them. We use a panini maker because I can get more done at once and use a different tangy sauce and toppings. Thank you for your humor, creativity and inspiration. I always love seeing what you’ll come up with!

  3. claudia

    oh my gosh, this is so hilarious! You made me cry- falafel-waffle 🙂
    thank you for your wonderful blog and your recipes. I can almost grasp the love you have for whole foods in here…

  4. Christine

    I’m a huge fan and so far every recipe is a big succes, except for this waffles, they were dry and heavy 🙁 so I tried something else : waffles made with chickpea flour (much easier..) and here I got the result I wanted, they were light and crispy, delicious :-))
    This is the recipe : 200 g chickpea flour, 1 Tbsp ground cumin, 1,5 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1,5 Tbsp baking powder, 250 ml warm water, juice of 1 lemon, 3 Tbsp coconut oil, 1 clove of garlic, a pinch of cayenne pepper, mix everything together and add a handfull chopper herbs (parsley and coriander). Let it rest for 30′ and then off you go!!

  5. Cheryl

    I tried making this and I’m back with notes. I quite liked it. The waffles turned out crisp and crunchy, and not dry. I used much less chickpea flour (maybe 2-3 tbsps…I winged it, sort of) than the recipe called for, since many of the earlier reviews said the waffles were too dry. I also added some garam masala and red chili powder to spice things up a bit, so I’m not sure if these can be called falafels any more 🙂 I didn’t have parsley at hand either so I doubled the cilantro.

    I didn’t make any of the suggested accompaniments (no harissa, no tahini, no cabbage). We just dipped the waffles in a bit of ketchup…I know, I know…But in my defense, it was super-tangy Indian tomato ketchup – Maggi Hot & Sweet Tomato Chili Sauce (you can find it at any Indian grocery store).

    On a separate note, if you’re looking to use up chickpea flour, making the Indian version of the French socca is a great idea. Called besan chilla/cheela or even ‘vegetarian omelette’ for some reason, these are basically crepes made of chickpea flour, tomatoes, onions, ginger, cilantro, and a few spices. Again, best had with the Maggi Hot & Sweet Tomato Chili Sauce or mint chutney 😀 This blog, Veg Recipes of India, has a great recipe for the crepe http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/tomato-omelette-veg-recipe/ and a lot of other Indian dishes as well. She even has a great recipe for homemade tomato ketchup or sauce, as we call it in India.

  6. Crow

    Such a great idea! I have really enjoyed making savory waffles with fun toppings in the past (especially when all I had for a kitchen was a blender, a hot plate and a waffle iron). I had high hopes for this recipe, but it did not turn out well for me. I have never been successful with falafel. My best savory waffle batters were made with leftover split pea soup, rice or barley flour, sesame seeds for extra crunch, and a little bit of baking soda.

  7. Natalie

    I agree with some of the other reviewers that these were way too dry. My family described them as eating sawdust, and I followed the recipe exactly. I’ve made 20+ other recipes of Sarah’s, and they’ve all been great. This is the first real miss, I would not recommend this recipe. The Harissa Tahini sauce was good, though.

  8. Kim

    They worked! My husband is loving these…

    I did make some changes – I used a can of chickpeas (because I wanted instant gratification) and didn’t add any water at the end. I used sriracha in the sauce because I didn’t have harissa and added baba ganoush. I was slightly shocked at how well it all came together. They were slightly dry – but with the toppings it was perfect.

  9. Lau

    Loved the idea of these, but sadly followed the recipe to a T and the results were a mess. The falafel waffles stuck horribly to the waffle iron no matter what I did and how much I oiled it. I ended up just making them in a skillet and they turned out well- flavor were spot on!

  10. Carmen

    I made these waffles and they were a bit dry, but still delicious for lunch every day this week! I whipped up some tzatziki which helped with the dry-ness. Will make again.

  11. Daria

    I love the idea!!! I’ve been making baked falafel a lot lately and I think I nailed the recipe. I was super excited to finally use my waffle maker for these wallafels but what happened was they turned out really dry.. I actually used left chickpea flour than what the recipe called and more water and cooked less than 5 mins or 5 at the most bc they were brown and cooked through.
    Any suggestions for my next try?

  12. Alexandra

    Sarah – this is brilliant! Definitely trying this recipe 🙂
    I’ve been trying to utilize my waffle iron for more than breakfast and this is the perfect idea. I’ve attempted hashbrown waffles too, but haven’t discovered the perfect recipe yet.

    Happy holidays!

  13. Penny

    Ugh. These were gross. Followed the recipe to the T. The waffles looked great, but man.. So dry. I can’t imagine how they could have tasted good. Make for looks, but not for taste.

    • me

      SOOOOOO glad to finally have reviews from people who actually MAKE THE RECIPE!! So tired of people who leave excellent reviews when they haven’t even tried the recipe!! I had my doubts about this recipe, but started soaking the chickpeas anyway…thinking of using them in something else at the moment…

    • Karen

      I should have read the reviews. I just did a sample one and agree – super dry. Even my 3 yo who loves falafel rejected the sample. I may try to pan fry to save my effort and have a dinner for us to eat! Or maybe coat each patty in olive oil before pressing it in? The toppings may help salvage it but it’s anybody’s guess whether the kids will eat the cabbage and one of mine is sensitive to sesame so no tahini for her.

  14. Marcela

    The waffles came out beautifully, looked great, but they were kind of dry and not that easy to digest. I guess they may need more time in the food processor for a lighter result with a silky texture…

  15. Bety

    My falafel waffle stick ro the waffel maker, I couldn’t take the waffle out of the iron and it was a mess, but it the falafel pieces tasted good
    I did use coconut oil . Any suggestions?

  16. Jessie Snyder | Faring Well

    Sarah! This is amazing. So revolutionary. And I practically fell out of my share when I saw you mentioned me as inspo for your harissa tahini. GOODNESS. So glad you loved the idea too. And now I’m looking at my waffle iron in a whole new way ;). Hope you’re having a gorgeous week! xo

  17. Elenore

    This is SUCH a You recipe it’s crazy.. Everything about it screams Sarah and I LOVE it (as I love you, duh 😉 Seriously gotta go get one of those non-scandi waffle irons.

    Biggest Hug to you, love!

  18. Rosie Kourian

    All looks wonderful, Sarah! Would you mind sharing what brand of waffle iron you use? I assume it is not one of the common nonstick ones (covered with Teflon or worse). Thank you!

  19. Joanie

    Hi Sarah!

    If not eaten all right away, would you still cook the whole batch and then reheat it in the oven? Or does the dough keep well in the fridge for a few days?

    Thank you! Joanie xo

  20. Karine

    This is brilliant! I don’t have a waffle iron, but I’ll bet my Panini press will work beautifully. I can’t wait to slide a hot falafel into a warm pita and roll it up with the slaw and Harissa Tahini Sauce. Thank you!

  21. Joelle

    If you have a Vitamix or other high speed blender you can just grind uncooked chickpeas into flour. I’ve done it and it worked great.

    I don’t have a waffle maker, but I’m thinking my panini maker might work because it’s one of those narrow channel ones and gets very hot (but has a thermostat). I’m going to give it a go! Thanks.

  22. Sarah R

    Walaffles! (or maybe walafels?) That’s what I’m calling these in my head, ha! They sound great, maybe with a little yogurty tzaziki!

  23. Carolyn

    This is brilliant!!!! Can you recommend a waffle iron? I’ve been considering buying one for a LLLOONNGGGG while now….I think its finally time!

  24. Jen

    I love the mighty chickpea and credit my husband with introducing me to the deliciousness of falafel, way back a long, long time ago when we were just dating! I’ve actually seen the idea of a “waffle falafel” before on the US Cooking Channel series “you’re eating it wrong”, but my hesitation has been that I fear my waffle iron will leave a lingering taste of falafel and that does not sound appealing in a breakfast waffle, do tell if you have experienced this or not and if so what to do.

    Your photos are gorgeous and the recipe looks delish, I never would have thought to add cinnamon and raw soaked chickpeas, wow, never done before, but definitely will now. Thanks so much for all your amazing inspiration, I love your site – beautiful photos, creative recipes, fantastic info and your life changing bread, well let’s just say I’m in love 🙂

    would love for you to check out what I’m doing at http://www.sweetgreenkitchen.com, thanks!

  25. Katie (Veggie and the Beast)

    Just this Sunday I had a craving for authentic falafel, so I made some delicious (eggless) dough, and for the first time ever felt that I had spiced them just right. That perfect dough then completely crumbled in my grape seed oil. I tried baking the remaining balls, but they ended up sad and limp. It was so tragic. Making them in the waffle iron is genius – would love to have crispy falafels (that stick together…) without all the oil. Definitely trying it this weekend!

  26. Margaret Bruno-Metzger

    OMG I’m in love. You come up with the most amazing recipes! If only I didn’t destroy my waffle iron “experimenting” with different ingredients to make waffles out of. Looks like I need to find one at a garage sale asap to whip up a batch of these!!

  27. Lisa Bryan

    Oh my word! Not only do these sound amazing – they look amazing! I am loving every single ingredients in these falafel waffles (and yes, who doesn’t love a rhyming recipe?!). It’s perfection. And the insoluble fiber of the chickpeas…yes, yes and yes! I’m a gut geek and any recipe that keeps my microbiome happy is definitely a keeper. Thanks!

  28. Teffy

    It seems everywhere I look on the blogosphere there seems to be a falafel recipe! Is there something about winter and falafels I’m missing?

    These look absolutely delicious. I love falafels, and I will eat them at any opportunity given. I’ve never tried them as waffles though, and now I feel like I haven’t lived. Might have to get a waffle machine especially for this recipe!

    I’ve never seen a falafel recipe that calls for egg, but deep frying seems to be the norm indeed. I’ve had delicious and crisp oven baked ones, and I’m currently in Dubai and happily there are now places that served baked ones for the more health conscious, which is awesome! Might have to tell them about this waffle one, maybe it can catch on and become a trend =)

  29. Susan

    This sounds like a fabulous way to do falafels, a dish I’ve loved for many, many years. I can see where it would be confusing to somebody like my husband, though…

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