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Falafel balls

Falafel is an easy meal that fills the bill no matter who’s at your table. (Photo credit: iStock, Pinkybird)

Oh, the humble little chickpea—who would think it would be the great dining table equalizer? But when it comes to a food that everyone and anyone can and will indulge in, falafel just might be it.

This chickpea-based fritter makes everyone happy—meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians, the gluten-averse. Kids, grown-ups, picky relatives visiting from far-off lands (because the chickpea shows up in a multitude of cuisines ’round the world). Everyone loves this combo of grain, legume or potato-based flour, herbs, spices and garlic. And it’s surprisingly easy to make.

“It’s like any kind of fritter, really,” says chef Kyle Seddio, owner of Kyle’s in Shelter Island. “The trick is getting the texture right. I always make a little one first to see how well it holds together. If it’s not consistent, I add more flour to boost it.”

Make falafel for a meal over salad or in a pita, or tooth-picked and dunked as an hors d’oeuvres. (Photo credit: iStock, KarinaUrmantseva)

To that end, falafel is easily adjustable for the gluten-averse. Seddio calls for whole-wheat flour for a more substantial texture, but says that chickpea, rice or potato flour can all be easily swapped in.

When frying, “never use olive oil!” she warns, adding the grape seed oil offers the highest smoking temperature, and will yield super crispy but not dried-out falafel balls. She’s served this tried-and-true recipe in her eponymous restaurant, Kyle’s in Shelter Island, for over 20 years, and also teaches cooking classes, where students learn how to make this versatile, Mediterranean staple, too.

Serve a few atop a beautiful bed of mixed greens drizzled in lemony tahini, in a whole-wheat pita with a few shakes of hot sauce or even as a dunkable hors d’oeuvres—you can even pre-make and freeze them, keeping a bunch stashed in the ‘fridge just in case you need a quick meal or snack. Humble chickpea, indeed!

Falafel a la Kyle

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Serves 4 servings


  • 2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, washed and well-drained
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 6 scallions finely chopped
  • 1 dash hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or chickpea, potato or rice flour)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Lemon-Tahini Sauce

  • 3/4 cup sesame tahini paste
  • 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups water (depending on desired consistency)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • hot sauce, if desired


  • Process the beans in a food processor with water and lemon juice until they are smooth in consistency.
  • Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl and fold in the garlic, scallions, spices, parsley, onion, hot sauce and salt and pepper. Stir until just mixed. Form into balls, about the shape of a half-dollar.
  • In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil.
  • Brown on all sides until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate.
  • Serve over salad greens or in a pita, drizzled with lemon-tahini sauce.

Lemon-Tahini Sauce

  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well until thoroughly combined and smooth.