Falafel: The Ultimate Israeli Street Food

Whenever someone asks you to name a dish that truly defines Israeli cuisine and Israeli culture, there will probably be one that automatically pops to mind - Falafel.

The soft pillowy chickpea interior, wrapped in a crisp crunchy coating is considered by most to be Israel’s national dish is always at the top of foods recommended to try while in Israel. But is it, in fact, Israeli food?

A closeup of a bowl of falafel balls with one broken open to show a green interior
Bowl of freshly made falafel

It’s time to set some facts straight about our beloved street food staple:

Although many assume it is an Israeli creation, falafel is in fact believed to be invented in Egypt, around 1500 years ago.

The fried chickpea balls are the most common variety of falafel you will find, but there are many different styles to the dish, such as Falafel Mahshi, stuffed with spiced onions or ground meat, or the Egyptian falafel version, made from a Ful (Fava beans) base.

Despite the fact that it’s made from relatively healthy ingredients, a falafel meal holds quite an amount of calories; an average serving consisting of a pita, six falafel balls, salad, french fries, and some tahini sauce can run up around 800 calories. Totally worth it though.

The Yemenite falafel style, the spicier version of the chickpea classic, was actually invented in Israel and not in Yemen.

It might not be the falafel's birthplace, but Israel is probably the first place where the falafel was served inside of a pita, a true act of genius.

Did you know?

June 12th is International Falafel Day, celebrated by foodies all around the world.

The current record for the largest falafel ball belongs to the Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa in Jordan. The giant 101.5 Kg patty took over 45 minutes to cook!

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