The first time I ever heard the word falafel was in 1999 when I watched the movie She’s All That. Rachel Leigh Cook’s character Laney Boggs worked at a falafel stand and wore this killer novelty pita hat, stuffed with fake falafel balls and lettuce. 2018 Halloween costume? I dare you.

My biggest takeaway from the movie (besides fantasizing about doing a choreographed dance set to a Fat Boy Slim track), was wondering what falafel actually was. What did it taste like? Are falafel balls just meatballs stuffed into a hard taco shell and if so, where was the salsa and cheese? 

My Uni-years living in Ottawa set me straight. As I learned, falafel was a vegetarian chickpea fritter with a crispy outside and a soft interior spiced with cumin, coriander, garlic and onion. I was woke. Bored of using boxed mixes, a co-worker of mine recommended this recipe from Canadian Living magazine.

I've adapted it, by adding turmeric and coated the outside with sesame seeds because it’s 2017 and looks pretty. To make this gluten-free, I used rice flour. The Tahini Sumac Yogurt dipping sauce is mandatory!

1 C dried chickpeas
3/4 C chopped red onion
1/3 C chopped fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp rice flour or AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
canola oil for frying


1/2 C plain yogurt
1/4 C tahini
1 tsp of sumac
1/2 tsp  each salt, cayenne pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped

1. Rehydrate the chickpeas by soaking them in water overnight.

2. Add all of the falafel ingredients into a food processor and pulse chop until combined. Test some of the mixture and roll into a ball to see if it sticks together. If it doesn’t, pulse chop a little bit longer.
3. Roll up the mixture into small to medium-sized balls that are about ¾ of an inch across. Heat up canola oil and fry falafel balls in batches until brown.
4. In a bowl, mix all ingredients to make Tahini Sumac dipping sauce. Spoon on top of the falafel balls just before serving.


© 2017 Michelle Li / miliSashimi