I want to say once you try these spicy Caribbean style falafel you’ll not want it any other way. But I’m biased when it comes to spicy Caribbean food and these falafel are no different. I made them with chickpeas, fresh Caribbean spices, and saltfish (salted cod). So what’s not to love? However, I can’t take credit for this recipe. My friend Tania in Jamaican called me up and said “You’ve got to try this recipe”. It took me a few days to gather all the ingredients but it was well worth the wait.
These are crispy on the outside and a flavor bomb on the inside. The salted cod is subtle and adds a unique flavor. For a more bold fish flavor you can always add more of the salted cod. If you’re familiar with Jamaican saltfish fritters, the spicy Caribbean style falafel recipe is a similar taste.
Tips for best results
- Canned vs dry chickpeas – This one is controversial, I tried it both ways and honestly the canned chickpeas did not work for me. Dry chickpeas, that have been soaked in water for 24 hours, will give you the best texture and flavor. Dry chickpeas will also help your falafel stay well formed. If you use canned chickpeas, your falafel will disintegrate in the frying oil.
- Deep frying – Make sure the falafel is completely submerged in the oil and the temperature is around 375 degrees. If the oil is too hot or the falafel is not completely submerged, it will disintegrate. It’s a good idea to fry one falafel first to make sure the oil temperature does not need adjusting.
- Don’t skip chilling step – The chilled mixture will hold together better, making it easier to form the falafel patties. Chill for at least 1 hour.
- Soaking chickpeas – If soaking for less than 24 hours, add about ½ tsp of baking soda to the soaking water to help soften the dry chickpeas.
Frying vs Baking
Frying is the traditional way to cook falafel and gives you the best flavor, but baking is a little healthier. To bake falafel, you need a greased baking pan with enough room for each falafel to bake evenly. Here’s a great recipe for baking falafel.
These falafel (as with the classic Israeli falafel) are so versatile and can be eaten as a snack, in a pita bread, over a salad or even over rice with your favorite vegetable on the side. Take your pick and enjoy!
Here are the ingredients and instructions. Do you like falafel? Comment below and share your favorite.
Spicy Caribbean Style Falafel
- Deep fryer or similar
- food processor or blender
- 1 Cup Dry Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
- 1 Tbsp All-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup Salted Cod (saltfish) -cooked
- Oil for Frying
- 1 Small Yellow onion -diced
- 4 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Small Scotch bonnet pepper
- 3 Stalks Scallion -cut into a few pieces
- 1 Small Sweet pepper (bell pepper) -diced
- 2 Tbsp Fresh thyme leaves
- 1 Tsp Smoked paprika
- 1 Tsp All-spice (pimento)
- 1 Tsp Black pepper
- 2 Tsp Tumeric powder
- 1/2 Tsp Baking soda
- Salt for taste
- Place chickpeas into a large container and cover with several inches of cool water (they will double in size so use enough water to cover completely); soak overnight or for at least 12 to 24 hours. Then drain well.
- Place salted cod (saltfish) in a large contain and cover with water. Soak overnight or for at least 12 hours. Drain and cook for 30 minutes or until soft. Then break into a few pieces.
- In a blender or food processor pulse all ingredients together, scraping down the sides if necessary, until mixture is finely ground and holds together. Transfer mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until flavors blend, 1 to 2 hours.
- Transfer mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a few hours. This will allow the flavor to develop and falafel balls to hold together when frying.
- Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to about 350-375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Drop a little piece of the mixture to test if the oil is ready.
- Divide mixture and roll into small meatball-sized balls. Dip your hands in a little water to keep them moist and to keep the balls from sticking to your hands.
- Fry falafel balls in hot oil until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes each ball. Transfer to a wire rack lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.
- Let the falafel rest for a few minutes before enjoying!
- For baked falafel:
- Preheat your oven to 370 degrees F and lightly oil a baking sheet. Give each patty a quick brush of extra virgin olive oil before baking.
- Uncooked falafel mixture will keep in the fridge for 1-2 days. You can form it into patties and store in fridge until you are ready to cook.
- Mixture can also be stored in freezer. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until hardened then place the patties into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month.
- Falafel can be cooked from frozen by frying or baking.
Salted cod (saltfish) is available in most grocery stores in the fish section. I used Cristobal brand because it’s boneless and readily available in my local grocery.