The mighty chickpea is the star of this Middle Eastern classic, Falafel. Prepare these protein-packed chickpea patties and stuff them into a warm pita bread as your students explore ancient civilizations or even current events.




The mighty chickpea is the star of this Middle Eastern classic, Falafel. Prepare these protein-packed chickpea patties and stuff them into a warm pita bread as your students explore ancient civilizations or even current events.


Middle Eastern Culture and History


Social Studies

Learning Environment

Teaching Kitchen

Prep Time

1 hour


K-8th grade

Lesson Time

45 min

Common Core


Role of Teacher

Curricular Tie to Passport Project/Social Studies




Ingredients:1/2 medium yellow onion / 2 cups cooked chickpea / 1 cup fresh parsley / Juice of 1/2 lemon / 1 teaspoon ground cumin / 1 teaspoon coriander / 4 teaspoon salt / 1/2 teaspoon salt / 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper / 1/4 red pepper flakes (optional) / 3 garlic cloves / 2 tablespoons flour / 1/2 teaspoon baking powder / 1 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt / 3-inch piece cucumber / Juice of 1/2 lemon / 1 tablespoon fresh dill or mint / 1/2 pita pocket (per student) / 2 cups veggie toppings (pickled beets, radishes, carrots, tomato), 1/2 cup pickled jalapeno

Equipment: Cutting boards (1 per student) / Knives for cutting / Measuring cups and spoons / 8 mixing bowls / 8 small bowls for serving condiments and spread / Plates (1 per student) / Forks (1 per student) / Butter knives (1 per student) / Baking sheet / Oven / Spatula / Mixing spoons (1 per station)

Background Information

  • Falafel is thought to originate in Egypt and has a long history as culinary delight throughout the Middle East. Originally the falafel balls were made from fava beans, and it now is typically prepared with chickpea or a blend of chickpea and fava beans. It is eaten with different preparations and presentations, however it has become most popular served stuffed in pita bread with different spreads and toppings added.  Falafel is now enjoyed in many counties around the world, and it is hearty vegetarian fair.
  • Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are the main ingredient in falafel. Records show they began being cultivated in Middle Eastern regions around 3,000 BC.
  • Low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol and sodium garbanzo beans contain high amounts of folate and manganese and is packed with lots more goodness containing 9 grams of protein in a 3.5 ounce serving size,  and provides a good source of copper,  phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. Fiber, thiamin, zinc and vitamin B6 are in healthy supply as well.
  • Older students interested in a deeper exploration the health benefits of foods will find that the humble chickpea contains antioxidant phytonutrients such as the flavonoids quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin; phenolic acids, including ferulic, chlorogenic, caffeic, and vanillic; and the anthocyanins delphinidin, cyanidin, and petunidin. All these combine to provide powerful protection against free radical damage and protect against diseases, including cancer.
  • A friend to soil, beans have bacteria living on their roots that help them absorb nitrogen from the air and convert it to a form that plants need in order to grow. This process makes beans and legumes notable for fixing nitrogen in the soil.

Topics / Goals / Learning Objectives

  • Learn that beans can be dried and thus are a food that lasts through the winter
  • Identify key nutrional properties of beans: high in protein, fiber and many nutrients
  • Understand the significance of Middle Eastern foods in history and modern culture
  • Explore how Falafel has become popular around the world
  • Learn to make baked Falafel, traditional spreads and toppings
  • Learn to compose and eat a Falafel sandwich

Opening / hook

Welcome to the kitchen, 3rd graders! Today, our Recipe of the Month highlights beans and we will be learning about how use a bean called the chickpea to make Falafel: a delicious dish that originated in Egypt. Falafel is now the national dish of many Middle Eastern countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine and has become so popular that people eat it all over the world. It is a vegetarian dish that is both tasty and high in protein.

Procedures / Activities

  1. Welcome students into the kitchen and have them wash hands.
  2. Introduce lesson with the spotlight in-season ingredient: Beans! Introduce health properties of beans then explore the history of Falafel.
  3. Go over proper knife skills and the jobs for each station. Check for understanding and give a time limit to complete the first task. Have students begin working.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  5. After 15-20 min of prepping, students at each station complete their tasks: Falafel is mixed, mashed and ready to cook and the toppings and spreads are competed.
  6. Students clean their areas and set tables, teachers collect falafel mix and toppings.
  7. Grease a baking sheet with a generous amount of olive oil. Using a tablespoon measure, place heaping scoops of the falafel mixture on the baking sheet, then flatten them with the back of the spoon. Bake the falafel rounds for 10 minutes, flip them, and then bake for another 10 minutes, until edges are crisp and tops are golden.
  8. After each table is clean, places are set, and falafel is in the oven, teacher makes curricular tie to social studies/Passport Project.
  9. Serve the baked falafel with warm pita pockets, cucumber sauce, and toppings. Students are given instruction on how to compose the falafel in the pita. Once every student has completed the instructions on how to compose their falafel, have them admire their work. Everyone eats together.
  10. End with a reflection of how students experienced the preparation of the dish and the different flavors. Check out this link for inspiration on facilitating the reflection: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/10/dining/a-history-of-the-mideast-in-the-humble-chickpea.htmlReflections

Extensions / Adaptations / Games

  • Students can plan and plant a garden with a global theme.
  • Student can use food as an entry point to study and discuss the complex history and politics of the Middle East.

Lesson Resources

Resource on nutrition and benefits of garbanzo beans: http://foodfacts.mercola.com/garbanzo-beans.html

Resource on history of Falafel: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/10/dining/a-history-of-the-mideast-in-the-humble-chickpea.html

Recipe: Falafel Recipe Card

Station Card: Falafel Station Cards