Looking for a complete vegetarian meal that’s full of fresh ingredients and bursting with flavor? Look no further. This Falafel Rice Bowl recipe really delivers.
The golden brown falafels are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and packed with herbs and spices. The tahini yogurt sauce takes only a minute to whip up and is so addictive!
Put it all over a bed of fluffy, aromatic rice and you’ve got yourself a super satisfying plant-based meal. Let’s make it!
What is Falafel?
Falafels are deep fried patties traditionally made from ground chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans) or fava beans (a.k.a. broad beans), herbs and spices.
They are an uber popular Middle Eastern street food, often served with rice or tucked inside a pita with fresh veggies.
Can you use canned chickpeas for falafel?
While the traditional way to make falafel is by using dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight, it is possible to make falafel using canned chickpeas.
This is a hotly contested topic that people get very emotional about, which is why I’m putting it at the top of this post!
There are many falafel recipes out there that insist that the recipe simply will not work using canned chickpeas. My friends – this recipe works. And it’s delicious.
No, it is not the traditional method. But in our modern world, it’s not always practical to soak beans overnight in preparation for a recipe.
This recipe is for those of us who need a quicker solution. If that’s you, let’s continue!
Ingredients for this Falafel Rice Bowl Recipe
Here is what you’ll need to make these flavor-packed falafel bowls:
- Falafels. Making homemade falafel is recommended, but there are also boxed mixes that you can find at your local grocery store that make things ever faster. I literally lived on boxed falafel mix in college, it was awesome!
- Cucumbers. Try to find mini, or Persian, cucumbers for this bowl. They’re super crunchy and smaller in size.
- Pickled Onions. I’ll show you how to make homemade pickled red onions in the recipe card that you can use for this recipe and many others, or just buy a jar of pickled onions at the supermarket.
- Tahini Sauce. This is made from Greek yogurt and tahini (sesame seeds ground into a paste). It makes a great dipping sauce in general and is not to be missed!
- Rice. We’re doing a garlicky basmati rice for these bowls, given a beautiful golden color with a dash of turmeric.
How to Make Falafel Rice Bowls
There are several components to this recipe, so it’s important to go in the right order.
Prep the Falafel Patties
Making the falafel mixture will only take a few minutes in the food processor. Then, get it into the refrigerator to chill.
While the falafel ingredients are chilling, move on to the next step of the recipe.
Make the Pickled Onions
This will only take a few minutes. Boil the pickling liquid, which consists of water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Then pour the pickling liquid into a jar of sliced red onions. Let it sit on the counter while you make the rest of the recipe.
Make the Tahini Yogurt Sauce
Combine the tahini with Greek yogurt, fresh herbs and a little lemon juice. Set it aside. If you like a thinner consistency, add a little water.
Make the Homemade Turmeric Rice
Cook the rice and then let it sit off heat. It will stay warm while you’re making the falafel balls.
Fry the Falafel Balls
We’re going to mimic the deep frying process by filling a large skillet with about an inch of oil. Because we are using canned chickpeas, the falafel mixture will be loose, even after refrigeration.
Use a large spoon to drop the batter into the oil. Then, use the spoon or a spatula to nudge the falafels into shape. They’ll look more like patties than balls.
Let them get nice and dark brown on both sides. Don’t worry, you can’t overcook them!
Variations and Substitutions
The beauty of this Mediterranean falafel bowl is that you can customize it in so many ways! Here are some ideas:
- Change up the rice. I’d recommend a long grain rice like basmati or jasmine rice in this recipe, but you could also use regular brown rice.
- Take store-bought shortcuts. Using a boxed falafel mix and jarred pickled onions will help to reduce your prep time on busy weeknights.
- Replace the tahini sauce with creamy hummus. They’re a similar consistency and flavor profile.
- Make this falafel bowl gluten free. Use gluten free flour or chickpea flour in place of the AP flour in the falafel mixture.
- Use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth. This is an easy swap. If you don’t mind the rice not being vegetarian, it’s fine to use chicken broth instead.
How to store Falafel
If you have any falafels left over, they keep very nicely when stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Just pop them in the microwave to reheat.
When you make this Falafel Rice Bowl recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more Middle Eastern-inspired recipes, try these:
For more rice bowl recipes, try these:
- Salmon Rice Bowl with Avocado & Spicy Mayo
- Indian Roasted Cauliflower Curry with Coconut Rice
- Turkey Burrito Bowl
Falafel Rice Bowl Recipe with Easy Tahini Sauce
- 12 falafel patties see below
- 4 Persian cucumbers sliced
- 2 tomatoes chopped
- 1 cup pickled onions see below
- 4 cups turmeric rice see below
- 1 cup tahini sauce see below
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp. tahini
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. fresh mint finely chopped
- 1 tsp. fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1 14 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained
- 1 white or yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 red onion thinly sliced
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 2 cup Jasmine or basmati rice uncooked
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup white or yellow onion diced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. salt
- Prep the falafel: Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until combined but not completely smooth. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Make the pickled onions: Thinly slice the onion. Place the slices into a mason jar or heavy duty plastic container. Bring the water, vinegar, sugar and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Once the salt and sugar are dissolved, pour the pickling liquid over the onions. Fill to the top of the container and seal it. Let it sit until it cools to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.
- Make the tahini yogurt: Combine all of the ingredients together in small bowl. Set aside.
- Make the turmeric rice: In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic in the oil until sizzling. Add the rice. Coat the rice in the oil and toast it until it begins to turn golden in color. Pour in the broth and turmeric. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for 10 more minutes before serving.
- Make the falafel: Heat 1 inch of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Remove falafel mixture from the refrigerator, and gently place heaping tablespoons of the mixture into the oil. Allow the falafel to brown on one side, about 3-4 minutes, and then use a slotted spoon to flip them over for another 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Assemble the bowls: Divide rice among 4 serving bowls. Place 3-4 falafels (depending on size) into each bowl. Garnish with cucumbers, tomatoes and pickled onions. Drizzle tahini sauce over the bowls.