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Black Olive Falafel from Taim

This is the recipe that has led the media to proclaim me the queen of New York falafel. I know this sounds arrogant, but I never much liked falafel until I opened Taïm and developed this recipe. My version does without the baking powder, baking soda, flour, and bread typically used in other falafel balls. It’s a somewhat complicated recipe; though I make it without a meat grinder, I suggest you use one if you can. It makes for a better texture. If you don’t like black olives, skip them and grind parsley and cilantro as an alternative.

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 15 ballsServings


  • 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight
  • Canola oil for deep frying
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Drain the chickpeas into a colander. Heat a medium pot filled with enough oil for deep frying.

2.  Combine the onion and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is finely ground. Crush the coriander seeds with the back of a metal spoon. Add them and the chickpeas to the food processor and pulse just until the chickpeas are broken into smaller chunks.

3.  Add the olives, salt, cumin, and pepper. Process until the mixture is finely chopped but not pureed, scraping down the sides of the container as needed. You’re looking for the mixture to resemble coarse meal and not hummus! If the mixture is a little too wet, simply drain off any excess liquid after you pulse it in the food processor. Shape the mixture into 11/2-inch balls and set aside.

4.  When the oil in the pot reaches 375°F, cook 3 to 4 falafel balls at a time until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Make sure to work in small batches to keep your oil nice and hot, which keeps your falafel tender and crispy.

Editor's note: Einat told me that you can also substitute Harissa for the olives for a spicy version.  Try your own variations too.  

CREDIT: "Excerpted from Balaboosta by Einat Admony (Artisan Books).Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Quentin Bacon."

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