Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food, commonly served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as lafa; "falafel" also frequently refers to a wrapped sandwich that is prepared in this way. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze (appetizers).
Debates over the origin of falafel have sometimes devolved into political discussions about the relationship between Arabs and Israelis. In modern times, falafel has been considered a national dish of Egypt, Palestine, and of Israel. Every Israeli has an opinion about falafel, the ultimate Israeli food.
Falafel is a traditionally Arab food. The word falafel may descend from the Arabic word falafil, a plural of the word filfil, meaning “pepper.” These fried vegetarian fritters are often served along with hummus and tahini sauce (known as a “falafel plate.”)
While falafel is not a specifically Jewish dish, it was eaten by Mizrahi Jews in their countries of origin. Later, it was adopted by early Jewish immigrants to Palestine. Due to its being entirely plant based, it is considered parve under Jewish dietary laws and gained acceptance with Jews because it could be eaten with meat or dairy meals.