Many countries and cultures like to claim falafel as their traditional food. This issue came to a head once at a London university. An event was organized in order to bring various cultures together. They were each asked to bring with them a sample of their traditional food. The Jewish Society decided to bring falafel as it is the street food widely found in Israel. Uproar ensued from some of the other societies claiming that falafel was actually one of their national dishes. Could it be that falafel belongs to more than one culture?
The basic falafel recipe is very simple; ground chickpeas deep fried. Of course each producer has their own secrets to create more flavor, a lighter texture or a deeper color. Falafel can either be served as an appetizer together with hummus or tahini or as a meal or snack in a pita with salad.
Falafel has become increasingly popular around the world as people’s taste palettes have developed, and more people have taken on a vegan diet.
No one is quite sure exactly where falafel originated from but it is accepted that it is a very old recipe. There are two very different theories about exactly where it originated. The first and most widely accepted claim is that it came from Egypt around 1000 years ago, brought by Egyptian Copts. The other theory is that it actually came from India in the 6th century.
In 1882 the British occupied Egypt, by coincidence falafel started featuring in Egyptian literature at that time. The British army had come from India where they had enjoyed fried croquettes. They asked their Egyptian hosts to prepare them something similar using local ingredients; this turned out to be the falafel!
Other countries such as Israel also lay claim to falafel but as the modern State of Israel was only established in 1948 this is unlikely. However, Jews have been scattered around the world for many hundreds of years and wherever they found themselves, they would take on some of the local cuisine. As Jews resettled in Israel, they brought their traditional food with them. It is likely that the Jews who came from Alexandria, Egypt brought with them the humble falafel. As they are easy and cheap to make, they became a very popular fast food that can be found in almost every shopping district in Israel.
As falafel becomes more and more popular, people wish to cook them in their own kitchens. Very few people can be bothered or have the skill to make them from scratch and will often opt for ready made versions. They come in two main forms: fully formed or falafel mix. Falafel mix is great for those people who wish to have a more authentic, fresh product and many companies such as Pellefood create high quality, easy to make falafel mix. These also have the advantage of not needing to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer until needed and are therefore highly convenient.
The question still remains as to exactly where falafel comes from but what we do know is that it is enjoyed by all and has never been so easy to make yourself.