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Falafel with Tahina Cream in Pitta

The perfect vegetarian lunch idea from Sophie Grigson. This homemade falafel is served with tahina cream, tomatoes, coriander and cucumbers in a toasted pitta.

From the book


Falafel are taking sandwich bars by storm, but if you want to taste them at their best make your own from dried chickpeas, not tinned. You’ll soon be totally hooked.

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For the falafel:
225g (8oz) dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water for 24 hours
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander or parsley
1 tbsp flour
¼ tsp baking powder
Sunflower oil, for deep-frying
For the tahina cream:
2 garlic cloves, crushed
175g (6oz) light tahina paste
Juice of 1½ lemons
Salt and cayenne pepper
To serve:
8 pitta bread
4 tomatoes, cubed
½ cucumber, sliced
6 lettuce leaves, shredded
Fresh coriander leaves
2 lemons, quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Essential kit

You will need a food processor.


Chop the onion, garlic and coriander or parsley.

Dry-fry the coriander and cumin seeds and then grind to a powder. Drain the chickpeas and place in a food processor with the spices and all the remaining falafel ingredients, except the oil. Process until smooth. Break off a knob and fry until browned. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Leave for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the tahina cream. Put the crushed garlic into a bowl with the tahina. Beat in the lemon juice, then gradually beat in enough water to give a consistency of double cream. Don’t worry when at first the tahina seizes up like concrete. Season with salt and add a touch more lemon juice. Pour into a serving bowl and dust lightly with cayenne pepper.

Roll the falafel mixture into balls no bigger than a small walnut. Heat a large pan of oil to a temperature of 180°C/350°F (to test, drop a cube of bread in – it should immediately fizz and begin to brown within about 15 seconds). Deep-fry the falafel in batches until well browned. Drain on kitchen paper.

While the falafel are cooking, heat the pitta bread in the oven. Put the tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce into bowls on the table, with the tahina cream. When the falafel are done, arrange on a plate with the coriander and wedges of the lemon.

Let everyone fill their pitta with a few cubes of tomato, a shred or two of lettuce and a squeeze of lemon juice. Then a few falafel, followed by a drizzle of tahina cream, more tomato, lettuce, some cucumber, coriander and a little more lemon juice, salt and pepper and, finally, another slather of tahina cream.

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From the book: My Kitchen Table: 100 Vegetarian Feasts

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