News Street Vending / Virtual Programs

My Little Chickpea: An Exploration of Falafel | Episode 270

Most of the same food carts selling the ubiquitous street meat also offer a strikingly vegan dish that is both traditional and modern. Falafel checks all the boxes from traditional, healthy, and delicious. On this hunger inducing virtual program, our resident food expert Brian Hoffman will explore all aspects of this humble little fritter from its historic controversial origins to recommendations on the best versions in New York to an explanation on how they are made. Along the way, we will learn from some of the best falafel chefs on New York food carts, and Brian will show us how to make great falafel at home with a live cooking demonstration.

Our Favorite Falafel Places in NYC

Freddy Zeidaie’s Falafel Recipe

Excerpted from New York à la Cart


  • 1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 medium-sized onion, quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2-3 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups of fresh green herbs (cilantro, parsley, mint, dill, or a combination)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon red hot pepper flakes or cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups vegetable oil for deep frying


  1. Pick out foreign matter from the peas before placing them in a large bowl, cover generously with water and soak uncovered, at room temperature overnight, adding more water if necessary. Optionally, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to water, 
  2. Drain peas, rinse, and gently dry in a salad spinner. Place them along with the other ingredients and 2 teaspoons water in a food processor. Pulse until the peas are finely ground, about the size of couscous. Roll about 1 tablespoon of the batter into a ball between your palms.
  3. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot to 350°F. Carefully deep fry each ball until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes each. They will fall to the bottom and rise during the frying. Serve hot stuffed in a pita or by themselves, covered in tahini sauce.