Falafel is an irresistible main course for even the most die-hard meat and potato lovers. It’s no surprise. Its hot, crispy exterior and soft, flavorful interior make a positively addictive combination.

You may have tried falafels at a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern restaurant, but unless they are part of your cooking heritage, you may not have made them at home. These typically involve soaking dried garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas) overnight, which involves some planning. On top of that, they are deep-fried, not a popular cooking technique these days.

It doesn’t need to be intimidating, though. Yes, soaking the dried beans is unavoidable, as canned beans result in a heavy, wet falafel, but deep frying can be avoided, as pan-frying works just as well.

Most of the time, falafels are served tucked into a pita. You can certainly go with that option, but once you try these falafels on top of a vibrant yellow bowl of turmeric-flavored rice, you may never go back.

The falafels turn into a hearty meal with rice and a quick and easy yogurt sauce, made nutty with the sesame-based tahini sauce, and a variety of toppings. 

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredith@meredithdeeds.com. Follow her on Twitter ­at @meredithdeeds.

Falafel Rice Bowl

Serves 6.

Note: Hot, crispy and packed with flavor, homemade falafels are a treat everyone should give themselves at some point. We’re pairing them with a vibrant turmeric rice, a nutty yogurt sauce and a variety of toppings, but they’re also perfect for stuffing inside a pita. From Meredith Deeds.


• 2 c. dried chickpeas

• 1 medium onion, chopped

• 1/4 c. chopped parsley

• 4 garlic cloves, chopped

• 1 tbsp. ground cumin

• 1 tsp. ground coriander

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. black pepper

• 1/2 tsp. baking soda

• 1/4 tsp. cayenne, or to taste

• 4 tbsp. olive oil


• 1 tbsp. olive oil

• 1/2 c. finely chopped onion

• 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

• 1 1/2 c. basmati rice

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric

• 2 1/4 c. water

Tahini Yogurt Sauce:

• 1 c. plain yogurt (not Greek)

• 2 tbsp. tahini sauce

• 1 tbsp. lemon juice

• 1 tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley


• 1 1/2 c. thinly sliced red cabbage

• 1 avocado, diced

• 1 cucumber, sliced

• 24 cherry tomatoes, halved

• 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese


Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water covered by 3 or 4 inches — the beans will triple in volume as they soak. Soak for 12 to 24 hours, checking once or twice to see if you need to add more water to keep the beans submerged.

To prepare the falafels: Drain the chickpeas and transfer them to a food processor, or feed them through a food mill, with the onion, parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, baking soda and cayenne. If using food processor, pulse until everything is finely minced and holds together when squeezed, stopping the machine and scraping down the sides if necessary. Form 24 patties, about 1/2 inch thick.

To prepare the rice: In 2-quart saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir about 3 minutes or until softened. Add rice; cook and stir about 2 minutes or until edges of rice are translucent. Stir in salt and turmeric. Add water; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer about 16 minutes or until rice is done. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes.

To prepare Yogurt Tahini Sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce.

Cooking falafels and assembling bowls: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 8 patties and cook until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes a side. Transfer to plate. Add a tablespoon more of the oil and cook another 8 patties. Repeat with the remaining oil and patties.

Divide rice among 6 bowls. Top with falafel, cabbage, cucumber, avocado, tomatoes, feta cheese and Yogurt Tahini sauce.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 665 Fat 25 g Sodium 1,070 mg

Carbohydrates 92 g Saturated fat 5 g Total sugars 15 g

Protein 22 g Cholesterol 15 mg Dietary fiber 16 g

Exchanges per serving: 3 starch, 3 carb, 2 medium-fat protein, 2½ fat.