Falafels are crispy and savory balls usually made from chickpeas, so they’re vegetarian-friendly and protein-rich. They’re often associated with Middle Eastern cuisine and are a well-loved street food in that area. They’re also popular in the Mediterranean region. Over time, they’ve also caught the rest of the world’s attention, and now many love falafel.
While you can munch on plain falafel, they’re often eaten with dip, veggies, and other side dishes. Indeed, they can even make a whole meal! This article introduces you to what to eat with falafel like some Mediterranean and Middle Eastern treats.
1. Tahini Sauce
The most well-recommended condiment for falafel is savory and tangy tahini sauce. It’s vegan-friendly, made from garlic, salt, lime or lemon juice, water, parsley, and tahini paste, which is the main element. The paste makes or breaks this dip, so ensure you get a great and authentic one to avoid unpalatable bitterness in the sauce. Serve on the side or drizzle over the falafel!
Hummus is a creamy and fluffy dip made from chickpeas; thus, you can see how it matches the falafel’s flavors. Aside from chickpeas, it has lemon juice, garlic, salt, tahini, cumin, and olive oil. Thus, the flavor profile is a beautiful complex of nutty, savory, tangy, and creamy flavors, which all work well. You can also make variations, like adding herbs, peppers, or tomatoes, for more flavor!
In the Middle East, eggplants are turned into a savory and indulgent dip called baba ganoush. Mashed eggplant flesh is mixed with spices, olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini to make this unique condiment. Although usually chunky, you can make it smoother by blending it in a food processor. But many prefer to keep its chunks to preserve that rustic feel that makes the experience more authentic.
If you’re fond of creamy, garlicky flavors, try dipping your falafel into toum, a Lebanese garlic sauce. It’s similar to skordalia or aioli, in case you’ve had any of those. Besides garlic, this sauce also has lemon juice, so expect a delicate tang intertwined with the savory flavors. There’s also oil to help make it creamy, and there’s salt to cut through and balance all those tastes.
Falafel is excellent with Greek cuisine, which includes tzatziki sauce. This yogurt-based condiment stands out for its fresh and tangy flavors, which come from Greek yogurt, red wine vinegar, and cucumber. Garlic, olive oil, salt, and black pepper complement the dip’s acidity. Tzatziki is usually associated with gyros, but it’s also incredible with many other dishes.
Another Greek-inspired dip you can pair with falafel is tirokafteri, also known as Greek feta or feta cheese dip. As the name implies, the star of this recipe is feta cheese, which has tangy, salty, and creamy flavors. Thus, expect to get a complex of flavors when eating your falafel with this. Besides feta, there’s olive oil, red wine vinegar, milk, and chili.
If you want to feel some fire from your falafel, muhammara can supply that bold kick and heat you’re craving. This Middle Eastern side dish is also known as roasted red pepper dip; thus, you can see where its bold flavors originate by name alone. Besides the distinct spiciness, you’ll also detect a blend of sweet, savory, tangy, smoky, and nutty flavors from the other ingredients.
The final condiment recipe makes labneh, a yogurt-based delicacy from the Middle East. Interestingly, it’s more similar to cream or yogurt cheese than sauce or dip; thus, expect the consistency to be much thicker and spreadable. Such quality is achieved by straining yogurt at a level beyond Greek yogurt, resulting in an indulgent mixture. It calls for two ingredients only: whole milk yogurt and salt.
When you’ve chosen a condiment for your falafel, it’s time to pick a heartier, more satisfying side dish. A fantastic choice would be Turkish-style eggplant, also known as kizartmis patlican. You’ll fry salted eggplant slices in olive oil, then top them with fried tomatoes and garlic. The flavors come together, and it’s best with some yogurt-based sauce, so take your pick from the ones above.
Salads are also excellent with falafel. Among the many variations you can find, it’s best to stick to Mediterranean recipes, like this for tabouli or tabbouleh salad. The essential element in this light and fresh treat is parsley – lots and lots of finely-chopped parsley. This herb’s bright, peppery, and earthy flavors, such as the dressing and tomatoes, complement the tangy components.
Like the Mediterranean, the Middle East has a selection of amazing salads with falafel. One is balela or Lebanese chickpea salad – quite fitting for chickpea balls, don’t you think? Besides the chickpeas, there are tomatoes, onions, parsley, mint, garlic, cumin, aquafaba, lemon juice, and olive oil. Thus, expect an assortment of tangy flavors and intriguing textures from balela.
At least once, try making yourself a complete mezze platter, which is packed full of Mediterranean dishes and treats, including falafel. Besides falafel, there are dips like hummus, pita bread, vegetables, olives, cheese, tabbouleh, and other customizable elements. This set is a hit at many parties, either as snacks or appetizers. It’s also eye candy with the many colors, shapes, and textures beautifully arranged on a gorgeous serving plate.
Have you ever had a rice pilaf? Mejadra is like the Middle Eastern equivalent of it in that it’s incredibly flavorful and aromatic. However, there are a lot of differences, starting with the fact that the rice isn’t toasted. Instead, you’ll be cooking lentils and then adding the rice. Once those two are done, the spices and flavorings come in: onions, cumin, coriander, turmeric, allspice, and cinnamon.