Ima’s Falafel (Part 1)

As a child, I loved watching my mother prepare the comfort food she grew up eating daily. In our family we ate falafel on Chanukah because it was the epitome of the “oily” greasy food that we were commanded to eat on the holiday (actually I think that was a little white lie we told ourselves as an excuse to enjoy them at least once a year). My mother started by soaking the chickpeas in water overnight, and then she had a huge glass bowl where she mashed together all of the secret ingredients.

When the falafel mix was ready she would take her handy falafel press, load up the mixture and slowly drop the little balls into the hot oil. When they were done, they floated to the top of the oil and my mother would scoop them out with a slotted spoon. It was my job to set up the newspaper and paper towels which the falafel would rest on so their oil could be absorbed.


My sisters were in charge of chopping the Israeli salad.

(Side note: try cutting cucumbers and tomatoes into tiny 2cm size rectangles and you understand what it’s like to work with miniatures. I almost choked the first time I had a Greek salad at my friend’s house and realized I couldn’t eat the cucumber in one bite).

Once all the toppings were ready, we set them on the table and made our own personal sandwiches by stuffing the little falafel balls into a warm pita with the addition of homemade hummus, tahini sauce and chopped tomato and cucumber salad.

The messy falafel sandwich

The messy falafel sandwich

To this day, we don’t know the exact recipe because my mother was sworn to secrecy, (learn more in part 2 of this post, coming soon) but we don’t need to ask. We just enjoy it whenever she gets a little homesick and is inspired to make it for us.

Ema Ima Mom

My beautiful mother Nechama

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this story in the coming weeks…

Until then, show us how much you love falafel (and us!) by voting for us in the Ultimate Jewish Food Competition. You can even win some awesome food related prizes!