Falafel Pitas With Cilantro-Cashew Sauce⚓︎

Based on https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/falafel-pitas-cilantro-cashew-sauce/17090/?utm_campaign=plant_powered_week_7&utm_medium=Email&utm_source=Newsletter&wpisrc=nl_vplantpowered_w7&wpmm=1

Personal rating:



For The Sauce⚓︎

See note at bottom for alternative yogurt-based sauce instead of cashew-based

  • 1 cup (5 oz) raw, unsalted cashews, soaked (10-12 hours!)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves (1 cup packed)
  • 1/2 cup water, or more as needed
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper

For The Falafel⚓︎

  • Can of chickpeas, mashed with potato masher
    • Note that 1-2 tbsp of flour can be added if needed to help the falafel hold their shape
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/4 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 small carrot, scrubbed well and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tbsp cilantro stems, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • olive oil

For Serving⚓︎

  • 4 pita bread rounds, each cut in half
  • 1/2 English (seedless) cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 cup (2 oz) baby spinach
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • Mild harissa (store-bought; optional)


  • Soak the raw cashews with ~2 cups of water for 10-12 hours in a large tupperware
    • Drain and return the nuts to the tupperware. Using a potato masher and fork, mash until no chunks remain
    • Finely chop and mix-in the cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper. Mix with a fork
      • Add water as needed to achieve a creamy consistency
    • (If available, this is much easier with a food processor or good blender)
  • For the falafel
    • In a new container, drain the chickpeas and mash with a potato masher and fork (or use a food processor if available)
    • Add the finely chopped garlic, red onion, carrot, cilantro stems, and parsley. Add the cumin and salt
    • Taking a tbsp of dough and flatten into a 2” round
      • You should now have a crumbly dough, but if two wet, add 1-2 tbsp of flour to help the dough stick together
    • Prep about 24 disks on a plate
  • Cut up the vegetables for serving
  • Heat up a thin layer of oil on the skillet under medium-high heat
    • Once sizzling, cook 8 falafel at a time for 2-3 min per side until lightly browned
    • We used a spatula and fork to flip, but if they stick together better, apparently chopsticks work well
    • Add more oil for each batch until done
  • To serve
    • Stuff each of the pita halves with 3 falafel, cucumber slices, red onion, spinach and tomatoes
    • Dollop with enough cilantro-cashew sauce to cover the filling, and some harissa, if using


  • I really messed up this recipe the first time we made it. I mashed the cashews and chickpeas, so the falafel didn’t stay together and we didn’t have the cashew sauce :D
    • The meal was saved thanks to Alex’s quick thinking of whipping together a yogurt sauce with plain yogurt, finely chopped cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and harissa
    • This sauce could probably be improved, but was a nice way to serve the falafel if one doesn’t have cashews