How to Make Rainbow Falafel

By Aly Miller

(The Nosher via JTA) — The rainbow bagel trend, admittedly, isn’t my favorite. Neon just isn’t that appetizing to me, and I’ve always been suspicious of too much food coloring. I do love colorful foods, though, as long as those vibrant hues come from things like spices, herbs, flowers (like these fuchsia hibiscus donuts!), fruits and vegetables.

While making falafel the other day, we were inspired by the bright shade of green that resulted from just a few handfuls of fresh cilantro and parsley. We were using our friend Sandy Leibowitz’s recipe for falafel sliders, which is so easy and delicious that we decided to try and make other shades of falafel.

Working with a base of chickpeas, spring onions and a light handful of herbs, we added turmeric and beets to create different colors. Turmeric, of course, turned our falafel bright yellow and gave off a delicious, fragrant aroma. In our next batch, we added a small cooked beet, yielding bright pink.

In a food world that’s buzzing about flamin’ hot Cheetos bagels and unicorn food, we’re proud to bring a slightly less flashy rainbow-hued meal to the table.

Rainbow falafel certainly doesn’t stop here — how about harissa paste for a bright orange falafel, or spirulina powder for a sea foam green? Now go get cooking, er, frying.

Note: This recipe was inspired by Leibowitz’s recipe for falafel sliders.

For classic (green) falafel:
1 1/2 cups dry chickpeas (soaked overnight)
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup scallions, sliced (white and light green parts only)
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander

For the yellow (turmeric) falafel:
1 1/2 cups garbanzo beans (soaked overnight in water)
1 small bunch fresh parsley
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried turmeric
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

For the pink (beet) falafel:
1 1/2 cups garbanzo beans (soaked overnight in water)
2 cups beets, chopped and microwaved for 8 min or steam till slightly cooked
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons cilantro finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour or chickpea flour

Vegetable oil for frying
Pita bread for serving (optional)
Israeli salad for serving (optional)
Pickles for serving (optional)
Tahini for serving (optional)


1. The night before you are going to make falafel, soak the dry chickpeas in a bowl with at least 3 inches of water covering them.

2. When you are ready to start making the falafel, drain the chickpeas from the water and ensure they are very dry. Pat them dry with paper towel or dish towel to remove an excess water.

3. To make the classic falafel: Place chickpeas, herbs, garlic and seasoning in a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Pulse until they start to bind.

4. To make the yellow falafel: Place chickpeas, parsley, garlic, spices and seasoning in a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Pulse until they start to bind.

5. To make the pink falafel: Place chickpeas, beets, cilantro, spices and seasoning in a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Pulse until they start to bind.

6. Allow falafel mixture(s) to sit in fridge 15 minutes.

7. While falafel is sitting in fridge, heat vegetable oil in large pot or deep fryer on medium-high heat (around 350 F. if using a thermometer).

8. Form falafel into approximately tablespoon-sized balls. Balls should be roughly the same size, so they cook evenly.

9. Fry until golden all over, around 3-4 minutes.

10. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel. If desired, sprinkle lightly with salt while still hot.

11. Serve with pita bread, Israeli salad, pickles, tahini, fresh herbs or French fries, if desired.

(Aly Miller is a freelance food writer and illustrator. See her artwork at

The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at

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