Mock Falafel w/ Lamb Meatballs


Falafel is a Middle Eastern specialty of small croquettes or patties made of highly spiced ground chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans.  It is most often served with a cucumber or tahini sauce inside a pita bread, sandwich style.  They can also be served as an appetizer with the sauces on the side as a dip.  A favorite snack or meal for many vegetarians, I discovered this dish when I moved to California.  When well prepared, it is crispy on the outside and soft in the center.  As good as they are, it is the tahini sauce that sets it apart for me.  Smooth, lemony, with a hint of garlic, it makes your taste buds stand up and take notice.  I believe I fell in love with this dish because of the sauce and I have eaten it on many things.  Always on a quest for the best falafel, I have regrettably found many more poor examples than not, many being dry and lacking in spice.  Since they are a bit fussy to make at home as they require soaking the chickpeas, grinding them with herbs and spices and then frying, I am not often inclined to engage in the process.  The other day, however, I had a craving and got the idea to combine one of my other favorite foods, meatballs, with the delicious tahini sauce and make an easier “mock” version.  The result was extremely flavorful and paired perfectly with the tangy sauce.

Here is how I made it.IMG_6027

Mock Falafel w/ Lamb Meatballs                  Makes 2 dz. (1 ½-inch balls)

Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis, adapted from The Meatball Shop Cookbook by Daniel Holzman & Michael Chernow

2T olive oil

2 lbs. ground lamb

3 large eggs

1 c golden raisins, chopped

½ c walnuts, toasted,  finely chopped

½ c fresh parsley, chopped

1t dried oregano

1t dried Herbes de Provence

½ c fresh bread crumbs

2 t salt

1 t freshly ground black pepper

6 pocket pita breads  (I used whole wheat)

36 grape tomatoes, halved

Lettuce leaves for each half pita

1 recipe of tahini sauce (below)

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Drizzle olive oil into a 9×13-inch baking dish and coat the entire surface.  Set aside.
  2. Combine ground lamb, eggs, raisins, walnuts, parsley, dried herbs, bread crumbs, salt & pepper in a large bowl and mix lightly with a fork until well incorporated.
  3. Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 ½-inch).  Place the balls in the prepared baking dish being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid.  The meatballs should be touching each other.
  4. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through.  A meat thermometer inserted in the center should read 165 degrees.
  5. Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.



1/2  c roasted tahini paste

¼ c fresh lemon juice, more or less, to taste

2 small garlic cloves, minced

½ c water to thin or more if needed

1/2t  sea salt or to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor (or mix by hand)  Taste, adjust quantities to taste.  Thin as needed with water.  Should be a smooth paste.

Warm pocket pitas in a low oven until soft.  Cut in half and open up the pockets.  For each half, cut two meatballs in half.  Place a spoonful of tahini sauce in the bottom and four halves of the meatballs.  Top with more sauce, tuck in some grape tomatoes (about 6 halves each) and lettuce leaves.

If using as an appetizer, make smaller meatballs adjust the cooking time to accommodate the size, serve with tahini sauce as a dip w/ wedges of pita.

Lamb not your thing?  Try making them with turkey or beef.  As a meal or small bite, these meatballs are moist and pack a punch of flavor.  The raisins give them sweetness (not too sweet), the walnuts give them texture and the herbs add depth.  Let’s not forget they are also an excuse to make and eat the creamy sauce.  I hope you will try this soon.  It will make you happy!


It is a joy to say, the sun is shining, it is warming up and I am feeling hopeful.  I even got to wash my car yesterday. Who knew how happy that can make you?  I will leave you with high hopes for Spring and send love from my home to yours.  I will be back soon with more kitchen goodness.  Meanwhile, keep spreading the love, one dish at a time.  Until next time, eat something yummy!  Jeanne





4 responses to “Mock Falafel w/ Lamb Meatballs

  1. Love the lamb balls and tahinilooks beautiful!!Debi

  2. Hi Debi: This is a good recipe. Hope you try it. We are trying to plan a visit to Spring Green now that the weather seems to be improving. Hope to see you soon. Thanks for the comment. Jeanne

  3. What a smart idea! I must try….and am heading to Jordan next week so I might try out on my in-laws! Yum.

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