International Falafel Day Date in the current year: June 12, 2024

International Falafel Day International Falafel Day, observed annually on June 12, celebrates one of the most popular dishes of Middle Eastern cuisine. The origins of the holiday are unclear, but does it really matter? What matters is that it is the perfect occasion to indulge in some delicious falafel.

Falafel is a deep-fried or oven baked ball or patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, or a combination of both. It is a traditional Middle Eastern dish and a popular street food both in its region of origin and outside it. Falafel is also popular among vegetarians and vegans around the world because it is a great alternative to meet-based dishes due to its high protein content.

Falafel is believed to have originated in Egypt. According to legend, Copts were the first to make fava bean patties, which they ate during Lent instead of meat, around the 4th century. However, there is no written evidence that falafel had existed before the 19th century.

From Egypt, the dish migrated to the Levant (the region encompassing present-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and part of Turkey), where fava beans were replaced with chickpeas. In Israel, it is widely considered to be the country’s national dish. Beginning in the 1970s, falafel became popular in Europe and North America.

Today, chickpea falafel is more common than Egyptian-style fava bean falafel. Chickpeas are usually soaked overnight prior to being ground together with various herbs and spices (cilantro, parsley, celery, scallions, garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, black and red pepper, salt). Cooking the chickpeas is not recommended because it will cause the falafel to fall apart.

Sometimes, flour is added as a binder, and baking soda can be used to make the falafel fluffier. If the falafel mixture is too wet, bulgur can be added to absorb excess moisture. The ready mixture is shaped into balls or small patties and deep fried or oven baked until golden brown. Falafel can be tan or green inside, depending on how much green herbs the cook has used.

Falafel is usually served stuffed in a pita (a hollow fleatbread) or wrapped with unleavened flatbread, accompanied by tahini (sesame dip), hummus, and a vegetable salad. It may also be served as part of meze (an assortment of small dishes served as appetizers), a snack, or a side dish.

As a street food, falafel is commonly served in a pita bread with fresh vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce), various sauces, pickles, and sometimes even french fries. Falafel bowls have become increasingly popular these days. They usually consist of falafel, fresh greens and vegetables, olives, tahini sauce, hummus, and sometimes also other ingredients such as quinoa, baked sweet potatoes, feta cheese, etc.

The best way to celebrate International Falafel Day is to eat falafel for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can cook it yourself (if you didn’t forget to soak chickpeas the night before), eat at a falafel place nearby, or order takeout. Don’t forget to share your meal on social media and accompany it with the hashtag #falafelday to spread the word!

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International Falafel Day, international observances, unofficial holidays, Middle Eastern cuisine, falafel