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Happy International Falafel Day!

About a month ago the Forward celebrated , which was created by young entrepreneur Ben Lang in 2012. Today, we again celebrate Middle Eastern cuisine with International Falafel Day, Lang’s second holiday creation.

As with Hummus Day, the goal of Falafel Day is to bring people from around the world together through food. Participants are encouraged to join the Facebook event page, tag Instagram pictures of falafel with the hashtag #falafelday and, of course, eat lots of falafel.

Lang, who is the co-founder of a start-up called MapMe, has even included this nifty map on the holiday’s official website so you can find great falafel joints near you.

Looking for fantastic falafel in New York City? Try Taim Falafel and Smoothie Bar or Mamoun’s Falafel, rated two of the best falafel restaurants in NYC by Thrillest.

If fried food isn’t your thing, don’t let that deter you from enjoying falafel! In my opinion, nothing beats a hot, crunchy, fried falafel, but baking is a simpler, healthier alternative. Here’s a recipe I love that I’ve adapted from Simple Healthy Kitchen:

1 16-ounce can garbanzo beans
Cooking spray
Olive oil (for brushing tops of falafels)
¼ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup chopped fresh parsley

1) Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2) Drain and rinse the garbanzos. Combine garbanzos, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a food processor or blender. Pulse until everything is finely minced (but not smoothly pureed), scraping down the sides as necessary. Fold in chopped parsley.

3) Form the mixture into 6 balls and place onto prepared cooking sheet. Flatten the balls into ½ inch thick patties. Brush the tops of the patties with olive oil. Bake 10-15 min on each side.

Jean Hanks is the food intern at the Forward.

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