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I've used the same recipe for years: soaked ground fava with enough chickpea flour to bind, sesame seeds, salt spice, baking soda.

Using thawed frozen portions of the mix, sometimes I get little cauliflowers instead of balls. Next try, from the same batch, all perfectly fine.

They never disintegrate; just crack open after a minute in enough oil to cover.

I believe my uncrowded oil temp is stable at 170ºC.

Is this a temp issue between cold raw falafel and hot oil?

Maybe baking soda not distributed well, expanding too much?

I have thrown raw balls not entirely free of ice crystals into hot oil without it happening.

It seems so random, what could be the issue?

2 Answers 2

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Fundamentally, the falafels crack open because the outside wants to shrink (due to dehydration) and the inside wants to expand (due to evaporation, gas expansion, and the action of the leavener). The variation you see -- some managing to stay together, others cracking -- is likely due to things subtly affecting the cohesion, such as the distribution of sesame seeds. So I wouldn't suggest trying to determine why the effect is intermittent... it's balanced on a knife edge, and sometimes it falls off the wrong side.

Using more chickpea flour and less fava beans might help. Grinding the fava beans more finely might help. Adding some wheat flour might help. Basically, anything you can do to promote cohesion. Additionally, reducing the baking soda might help, but it's not the first thing I'd try.

In a comment, Joe makes a really good point that the shape determines how much strain the expansion/contraction causes. A sphere is already at minimal surface area, so expansion has to involve cracking. But a smooshed sphere (or disc) can bow outward instead, flexing instead of rupturing.

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    Also, the shape can help. A truly round object is more likely to crack than something that starts out as disk shaped that can puff as it cooks. Being less smooth might also help (like for gnocchi, where the texture gives it more ability to puff), but it will also make the outside cook faster as there’s more surface area
    – Joe
    Jun 29 at 13:37
  • Easiest fix is smoosh like you said. I also reckon very cold mix expands suddenly when center finally heats and surface no longer flexible
    – Pat Sommer
    Jun 30 at 15:54
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Given the number of variables that go into producing one falafel this way it's hard to tell (temperature of the raw falafel, exact composition, ...). Assuming the recipe is always the same and the dough is not affected by environmental factors such as humidity and temperature, a couple of ideas come to mind:

  • Do you always freeze them in the same freezer? Freezing slowly at relatively high temperatures might originate big ice crystals that, when fried, evaporate and crack open the falafel.
  • Are the falafels always the same size? I guess bigger ones might break up more easily.
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  • Same recipe weighed out in grams. Thawed portions well stirred, no drips. 17g balls. Only happening recently, intermittently. Much earlier dealt with disintegrating balls; got that under control.
    – Pat Sommer
    May 31 at 17:45
  • Does it happen to the whole batch or only to some balls? Jun 1 at 6:23

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