Adored the world over, there is no single recipe for creating the perfect falafel. Traditional family recipes have come together across national borders and resulted in countless variations. And finding the perfect one really just means finding your favourite, because that’s always going to be what’s best.
Not satisfied with only being delicious, falafel can also be controversial. The origins of this deep-fried, spiced chickpea snack are a cause of contention between Israel and Palestine as both claim it to be their own. Egypt is also a contender for the birthplace of falafel, as is Lebanon.
No matter where it originated, there’s no denying that this Middle Eastern street food now has a global appeal. Dada Falafel (Linienstraße 132) in the district of Berlin-Mitte serves the German capital city’s best falafel, and Taïm (222 Waverly Place) is said to have the finest in New York City. London is also jumping on the falafel bandwagon as Just Falafel plans to open 200 branches across the United Kingdom in the next five years.
Sahyoun’s (Damascus Road) in Beirut, Lebanon actually predates Lebanese independence in 1943 from the French Mandate and was serving falafel before McDonald’s served its first hamburger. Mustafa Sahyoun founded the business in 1933 but prior to that, operated a falafel stand across the street from where the shop is currently located. Now Fouad and Zoheir Sahyoun run two shops side-by-side and any taxi driver in Beirut, upon hearing “Sahyoun’s falafel”, will take you directly there.
With so much choice, it may be a long, tasty search to find your favourite.