Classic Levantine Falafel Sandwich

Classic Levantine Falafel Sandwich

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For the second sandwich in our sandwich of the week series I’ve decided to go with the classic Levantine falafel sandwich. There are so many different variation fo this sandwich now that I feel the original has slightly been forgotten about, but in many ways because its the most basic, it’s simplicity makes it stand out above the rest.

It is though that falafel was created in Egypt, but they used broad beans as the base ingredient, it wasn’t until it was adopted in the Levant (Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria) that the falafel as we know it was created and turned into the sandwich we love. One of the things that makes it so popular in the region, other than being popular is that it generally cost under $1/£0.70.

There are four main components to the falafel sandwich and another two being optional that we’ll break down below. The components are: the falafel, bread, hummus, tahini sauce and the chilli sauce and pickles being optional.

The Falafel

That herb and spice packed green nugget of delicious goodness, is the primary ingredient of this sandwich. There are as many different recipes for it as there are falafel shops and they come all different shapes and sizes. Other than the base ingredient of chickpeas (which everyone is agreed on) some people use a combination of parsley, coriander and mint and others just parsley. Some add chillies and other don’t.

For me the ideal falafel is combination of parsley, coriander, some green chilli, ground cumin, ground coriander, garlic and onions. I also like them relatively small (which I do believe is a Jordanian thing), as is has the perfect balance of crunch to filling mixture. As they get bigger I feel that they become little mushier.

The Bread

If you’re ever in Jordan, you’ll see different falafel shops offering different bread option to stand out from the rest, but the classic pitta is still the most popular and for good reason. Whether it’s a thin bread and rolled, or thicker bread opened into a pocket, its always pitta bread. It’s delicate and slightly sweet flavour makes it the ideal vehicle for the remaining ingredients.

The Hummus

Creamy, smooth and a little tangy from a little lemon juice and the tahini, hummus is used as the base for the sandwich. It adds a wonderful nutty earthy tone to the the sandwich and because its also made from chickpeas it works beautifully with the falafel. Over the years I’ve had a couple of falafel sandwiches which didn’t include the hummus but they never felt complete it really add depth to the sandwich.

The Tahini Sauce

Don’t worry, this isn’t straight up tahini on its own. The tahini sauce is what really brings the sandwich to life, it’s made from tahini that is watered down and has a squeeze of lemon for some bright acidity. For a little more freshness chopped tomatoes and cucumbers are thrown in. Plus it adds the much needed moisture to the sandwich.

The Chilli Sauce & Pickles (Optional)

If you’re like me and like a kick of heat hen I recommend the chilli sauce. Traditionally this chilli sauce is made by passing chillis and garlic through a meat grinder, then topped of with a little olive oil and left for a few weeks so that all the flavours can infuse. It absolutely delicious.

The pickles to many are an essential ingredient to others its optional. For me its an essential element as it’s acidic notes cuts through the richness while also adding a little extra crunch to the sandwich.

Classic Levantine Falafel Sandwich

Perfect for breakfast lunch or dinner, the classic Levantine falafel sandwich is hits the spot every time.

  • Prep Time40 min
  • Cook Time15 min
  • Total Time55 min
  • Yield10 Sandwiches
  • Cuisine
    • Middle Eastern
  • Course

Ingredients

The Falafel

  • 200g dried chickpeas
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 cup coriander chopped
  • 1 cup parsley chopped
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Vegetable oil

The Hummus

  • 200g dried chickpeas
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt to taste

The Tahini Sauce

  • 1/3 cup Tahini
  • 1/3 cup Water
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 medium tomato diced (deseeded)
  • 1 cup of cucumber deseeded and diced
  • Salt

The Chilli Sauce

  • 4 Red chilies cut into 3 or for pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pitta Bread
  • Pickles

Method

1
  1. Soak the chickpeas for both the falafel and the hummus overnight in warm water with the baking soda
  2. Drain, rinse and divide the chickpeas equally.

The Falfel

2
  1. Place all the ingredients except for the chickpeas in the food processor, and blitz until they are roughly choppedAdd the chickpeas and process until it resembles a fine crumb.
  2. Form the falafels into mini hockey pucks either by hand or using a falafel press
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a pot. Test to see if its ready by dropping in a few falafel crumbs
  4. Add the falafels to the oil, a few at a time so that the temperature of the oil doesn’t drop. As they are frying make sure to turn them over so they brown evenly.
  5. Take them out of the oil and let them drain on some paper towels.

The Hummus

3
  1. Place the chick peas in a pot cover with water and bring to the boil until there are very soft about 20-30 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.
  2. Once cooled lace the chickpeas in the food processor along with the the tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Turn the food processor on, through the spout begin drizzling in the oil and then the water until it becomes smooth.
  3. Add the cumin and and salt

The Tahini Sauce

4
  1. Mix the Tahini, water and lemon juice together. Add the cucumber and tomatoes and garlic.

The Chilli Sauce

5
  1. Place the chilies and garlic in a food processor and blitz until relatively smooth. Scoop out into a bowl and add the oil

The Sandwich

6
  1. To make the sandwich, open the pitta bread and spread a spoonful of hummus on the base.
  2. Add 3-5 falafels (will depend on size) top with the tahini sauce, chilli sauce and pickles.

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