Falafels are made mostly from chickpeas and are delicious as a snack or as part of a meal. A typical portion of about 3 falafel balls can provide over a quarter of our daily recommended fiber intake. Falafels are also particularly good at reducing the risk of heart disease, especially if the fat content is kept low through baking. Here are 4 fun facts that you might not know about falafels.
The Origin of The Falafel
Nobody knows for sure where the first falafel was made. Some food historians think they came from Egypt, while others point to India where chickpeas are very popular. It is likely that Turkish and Arab traders brought the dish westward into the Middle East. The first instance of frying dough made from beans was recorded as a meal in Medieval Egypt, where it was enjoyed by Copts, a Christian ethnic group who at times rejected meat and stuck to a vegan diet. In 1949 and 1950, Operation Magic Carpet transported about 50 000 Yemenite Jews to Israel, and it was then that the falafel as we know it was born.
The World’s Largest Falafel
Israeli and Lebanese chefs have been in competition with each other to produce the world’s largest falafel ball. In 2010, a New York based Israeli chef used thousands of chickpeas and 40 litres of oil to fry the world’s largest falafel ball, weighing in at 10.9kg with a circumference of over a metre. Later that year Lebanese Chef Ramzi Choueiri and the students of Al Kafaat University in Lebanon set a record for cooking the largest amount of falafel balls. They cooked 5.173 kg in total.
The Israeli Falafel Style
Israel has been called a culinary melting pot. With Jews from over 100 countries calling the country home, Israeli cuisine is a wonderful mix of national flavours and techniques. Israel has their own ways of enjoying falafels too. It is typically served in a Middle Eastern pita bread pocket, topped with salad and hummus, as well as some other tasty condiments like sauerkraut, pickles and some delicious sauces. This is how we like to serve them at Anat, as well as enjoying them on their own.
The Falafel Index
In 1986, the Economist magazine invented the “Big Mac Index” to measure the typical purchasing power in different countries by assessing how expensive a Big Mac was to give an idea of the purchasing ability of the average family. While that might work in the West, the Middle East has falafel sandwiches and not Big Macs, which is how the Falafel Index came about. This index would measure how much a typical sandwich costs in local currency.
While the falafel might seem like a simple dish, it has a lot of history and is loved my many people. It also packs a punch when it comes to nutritional value. Haven’t tried falafel yet? Visit your nearest Anat to enjoy this wonderful dish.