Falafel: Lentils or Chickpeas

Recently, I have been experimenting with alternative protein sources. I am not interested in becoming a full vegetarian or vegan, but I am interested in lowering my meat intake and raising my general healthy food awareness. With that in mind, I tried my hand at baked falafel (when I said healthy, I certainly didn’t think deep frying need apply). But indecisive as ever, I couldn’t decide whether to use a lentil recipe or the traditional chickpeas.

I have adapted two recipes to my taste, and here is what I have found comparing lentils and chickpeas to make this delicious, vegan dish.

2015-06-30 16.48.34

First, I cooked the lentil version. I cooked the half cup of green lentils in two cups of water for 18 minutes until they were soft and easy to blitz in a food processor. I added the red onion, garlic, parsley (because I don’t like cilantro), salt, oil, and spices. In the processor, a small dough formed which I pulled out into a bowl and started to form into small balls.

In the original recipe (link here), flour is listed as a final ingredient to the dough. The first time I made this, the flour made the balls mealy and rough rather than chewy and doughy. The second time through, I omitted the flour completely, and it helped immensely in keeping things chewy and light.

With the oven pre-heated to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C, I popped them in after brushing each ball with a small amount of olive oil (not extra virgin) for browning. They cooked for twenty minutes. Any longer, and they start to burn and turn into small rocks.

2015-06-27 17.56.45

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The second type of falafel I made was with the chickpeas. In a can, even drained, the chickpeas held more moisture than the lentils, making a softer and doughier dough. The recipe called to put the dough in the fridge for an hour before baking or frying.

Chop the onion and garlic fine or blitz in the food processor and set aside. Then add the chickpeas, parsley (cilantro if you wish), and spices–no oil–to the processor and let it form the dough. Don’t puree it completely. The dough will have trouble sticking together if it’s too smooth.

Now, the original recipe also called for baking powder. I omitted this and the flour completely because, again, I did not fry them.

Once the dough has chilled for an hour, roll into balls and pop in the oven for 25 minutes at 400 degrees F/200 degrees C. They should turn out golden brown and delicious. (These needed a little more time in the oven because of the moisture in the chickpeas.)

2015-06-27 17.56.56

I, personally, preferred the chickpea version of the falafel because they were chewier and softer, but my husband liked the lentil version. The lentils made a heartier bite, but it was very dense and dry. Adding some tahini dressing or yogurt mixed with dill and cucumber would make the dryness more palatable.

Give these two recipes a shot and leave me a comment as to which you prefer!

And I hereby promise, better pictures will come for future food experiments.


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Baked Lentil Falafel
*note: I don’t like cilantro, so I substituted parsley. Up to you.
adapted from Vegan Richa
makes 12 to 13

1/2 cup green lentilsLentils
2 cups water
1/3 cup red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup packed parsley
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seed or ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 Tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

1) Wash and drain the lentils to remove grit or debris. Put them into a deep pan and cover with water on high heat for 18-20 minutes. Then drain the left over water and let cool for five minutes.

2) Add all the rest of the ingredients except for the oil to the food processor and include the cooled lentils. Blitz the machine slowly pouring in the oil to form a dough. Pour into a bowl and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C.

3) Arrange 12-13 small balls of dough on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 18 minutes. If they are not firm to the touch, bake for 2 more. Any longer, and they will burn.

* * * *

Baked Chickpea Falafel
adapted from Just a TasteChickpea
makes 12 to 15

1 cup white onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups drained chickpeas (about 1 14 oz. can)
1 cup of packed parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons cumin

1) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C. Prepare the onion and garlic and put all of the ingredients in the food processor and blitz until a dough forms. It will be much softer than the lentils above. Put the dough in the fridge for one hour.

2) After it’s chilled, use a tablespoon to roll out small balls on a lined baking sheet. You can form 12 to 15 depending. Before putting in the oven, press lightly with the back of the spoon to lightly flatten each ball.

3) Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes. They should be lightly browned and cooked all the way through.

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Et voila! Which do you prefer?


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