Calling all fans of falafel! Deep-fried and composed of chickpeas or fava beans, this Middle Eastern food is often found wrapped up in a pita bread, or served with salad and sauces. No matter how this dish is served, falafel is a bit crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and absolutely delicious in every way!
A favorite among meat-eaters and vegetarians alike (the latter of whom will often find it presented as an alternative to meat), falafel is one food that certainly deserves its own day of recognition.
On the 12th of June each year, it is time to celebrate one of the world’s favorite chickpea treats with International Falafel Day!
History of International Falafel Day
Exactly where and when the concept of falafel originated is up for a bit of debate. For the most part, many people agree that it was first eaten widely in Egypt, when Copitc Christians may have then used the dish as a replacement for meat during Lent (the season before Easter when Christians have traditionally fasted from eating meat).
Falafel seems to have, at first, been made with fava beans. It probably wasn’t until later that chickpeas entered into the picture, once the dish migrated further to the north. Some people think this meal may even date far back to Pharaonic Egypt, although no one is actually quite sure.
In the Middle East and Egypt, falafel would eventually become a popular form of street food. Often, it is eaten as part of a selection of other small portions of food known as a meze.
These days, it is so popular in Egypt that even McDonalds serve up their own version of the falafel, rather predictably named the ‘McFalafel’, as part of their breakfast menu!
After being mainly on the menu in Jewish or Greek restaurants and neighborhoods in North America, after 1970 this tasty treat gained popularity as a street food and today is often offered as a meat-free option to vegetarians.
But no matter where this dish is believed to have originated from, Israel definitely claims falafel as one of their most important national foods. And International Falafel Day is the perfect Day to enjoy it!
How to Celebrate International Falafel Day
Food days are so much fun to celebrate because they revolve almost exclusively around cooking and eating! Consider these ways of celebrating Falafel Day or come up with some other creative ideas:
Put Falafel on the Menu
Today is a great excuse to include falafel into your meals – wander by a street food market or into a Middle Eastern restaurant and try out the authentic falafel dishes! Or, for those who don’t have easy access to a Isralei or Greek style restaurant, grab some falafel from the grocery store or deli and toss it in with some pita bread and salad at home.
Eat Falafel in Tel Aviv
For those who are serious about Falafel Day, a trip over to Tel Aviv, Israel would be the pinnacle of food pilgrimages! Falafel can be found on almost every corner in Israel, but listed here are a few of what are considered to be the best places to get falafel in one of Israel’s largest cities:
- HaKosem. Be ready to wait in line because this is one of the most popular places to get falafel in the city (on Shlomo HaMelekh Street), but the line moves fast and they’ll often give samples to the people waiting in line. The name means “the magician” and those who have eaten the falafel here agree that it is pure magic!
- Falafel 4 Flavors. Located on Shlomo Ibn Gabirol Street, this restaurant offers four different varieties: classic, slightly spicy, sesame, and red and green. Try just one, or add all four to the same pita!
- HaRatzon. One of the most affordable falafel places, this one is popular with locals and tourists alike. They only take cash, to keep costs down, but their falafel is delicious and their service is quick (on King George Street).
Try to Make Falafel at Home
For those who want to make their own falafel, it may be surprising just how simple it can be to rustle up a few different tasty versions! The Egyptian version will only use fava beans, but in the West it is more common to be made from chickpeas – but use whichever version is preferred will be great. Perhaps this would even be a great day to try both?
Chickpeas on their own might be a little boring, so most falafel creators like to throw in some spices like coriander and cumin to make things a bit more interesting.
If wrapping the falafel up in a pita bread, be sure to include some fresh lettuce, tomato slices, cucumber and sauces too. Traditionally, it’s served with tahini, but people can choose whatever sauces they happen to prefer. Some people like the tzatziki sauce, which is a creamy sauce made with a cucumber base and then flavored with dill.
Be sure to share falafel creations with friends and family, reminding them of the importance of celebrating Falafel Day!
Check Out the Falafel Map
Those who aren’t sure where to access falafel for the day can easily hop online and take a look at the world map. Closer to the day, this map should offer insights and ideas into places that are celebrating Falafel Day.