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I like to pan-fry my falafel (as some of the answers to this question suggest), but have had the cakes fall apart or degenerate into mush when trying to turn them over. For ingredients I use chickpeas, olive oil, spices, and tahini. Is there a trick, either in ingredients or in preparation, to making them hold together better?

(I've seen a few recipes that include flour in the mixture; if that is the common answer then I'd like to know of any gluten-free alternatives. But since I don't know if it is really a factor I'll hold off on adding the gluten-free tag - don't want to unfairly get another entry in this week's contest!)

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Are you using cooked or soaked chickpeas? Traditionally falafel is made from soaked, raw legumes (usually fava, chickpeas or a combination of both). The raw mixture is quite tacky and shouldn't come apart. You wouldn't traditionally put tahini in the mix as well, that gets added to the sandwich. – NRaf Sep 22 '15 at 1:44

Crumble a piece of (gluten-free)bread.(You can also rub two pieces of rusk biscuit against each other to get some dry crumbles). Make a mixture of a little bit of olive oil and the crumbles. Before putting the falafel in the frying pan, dip them in this mixture. Because the crumbles form a bit of a crust, it's easier to flip them over without them falling apart.

It may not be ideal for the structure of traditional falafel, because this could give the falafel a crusty bite. But you might give this a go, because it works quite well for me.

Good luck!

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If you do not want to use flour you might consider these tips:

If they are turning into mush it is likely because your temperature is too high on your frying pan. Try turning it down to medium or medium low.

Also, one thing you might try when making your falafel mix is to use the coldest water possible in it. This will help the falafel to stick together when frying.

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I resolved this by using flour, it acts as a binder and thickener. Adapting the joy of cooking recipe, I ended up with chickpeas, onion, spices, flour and baking soda.It worked well though I ended up with something akin to a fried chickpea dumpling... I liked it, but not super traditional.

I've read that if you want to make it without adding flour, you can't used canned chickpeas, but I've not tried dried chickpeas myself.

If you're going to use flour, you can find a good list of wheat free flours here.

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I used almond flour as an alternative and it worked pretty well. The perfect temperature is difficult at first but just keep trying....falafels are worth the efforts.

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Most of the time it's as simple as over blending the mixture.

When the mixture is over-blended it becomes too sloppy and doesn't hold together during the frying. Pulse sparingly and even use a fork to mush any big garbanzo.

Also try to chop ingredients smaller so less blending is needed.

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Are you saying that the problem is over-blending, or that the solution is blending the mixture more? – Joe Dec 28 '15 at 15:22
Sorry Joe, it's exactly that. When the mixture is over-blended it becomes too sloppy and doesn't hold together during the frying. Pulse sparingly and even use a fork to mush any big garbanzo – Casanova Dec 28 '15 at 17:18
Also try using knife skills to chop ingredients smaller so less blending is needed. – Casanova Dec 28 '15 at 17:26

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