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white guy eats foreign foods
Monday, September 12, 2005

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Falafel (Arabic: فلافل or طعمية; Hebrew: פלאפל) is a fried ball or patty of spiced field beans or chickpeas, dating back to Biblical times and originating somewhere on the Indian subcontinent. Falafel is today eaten in India as well as in Pakistan and the Middle East. It is traditionally served with a yoghurt sauce, as a sandwich in pita bread, or as an appetizer.

Though its origin is uncertain, it is believed by some that it originally came from India, where it was made with spiced soured bread. The word "falafel" comes from the Arabic word فلفل (filfil), meaning pepper, and probably ultimately from Sanskrit pippalī. Falafel (at least the Middle Eastern style) is made from field beans, chick peas or any combination of the two. The Egyptian variation exclusively uses field beans, while other variations may exclusively use chick peas. What makes falafel different from many other bean patties is the beans are not cooked prior to use. Instead they are soaked, possibly skinned, then ground with other ingredients and deep fried.

Recent culinary trends have seen the triumph of the chickpea falafel over the field bean falafel. Chickpea falafels are served across the Middle East, and popularized by expatriates of those countries living abroad.

In Israel, falafel (along with the hummus) is sometimes referred to as "Israel's National Snack" (though some people claim it does not actually originate in Israel).
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