The ground beans are rolled into small balls or formed into patties which are then either pan-fried or deep-fried. When shaped into balls, the balls are usually 1 to 2 inches wide (2.5 to 5 cm.) The cooked bean balls can be served on a plate with other items such as salad, or put into a pita bread with chopped vegetables such as lettuce and tomato to make a sandwich which is also called a Falafel. The Falafel sandwich is usually dressed with a sauce such as tahini or hummos.
In the West and in Israel, chickpeas are used. In Arab countries, the beans used are more likely to be fava beans. It is made with fava beans in Egypt and in Lebanon.
In the Mid-East, Falafel are sold everywhere, the way hamburgers or hot-dogs or pizza slices are sold in the West, except they are sold a great deal by street vendors. It is a matter of some dispute, though, as to where exactly Falafel is original to. In Israel, Falafel is called “Israel’s National Snack”, which annoys the Arabs to no end, who claim it as an Arab invention. In fact, it may actually have originated in Egypt as a pre-Arab dish, but you are safest to label Falafel as a Middle Eastern dish.
In 2011, McDonald’s introduced Falafel burgers in Israel. The Falafel balls are formed into flat, cylindrical patties and wrapped in a thick piece of “lafa” bread, along with veggies and a green tahina sauce.
The two challenges in making Falafel lie in getting the consistency right, so that they don’t fall apart on you, and in the cooking, so that they don’t end up either raw and gloopy inside, or cooked so long they are burnt on the outside and hard as a rock on the inside.
You can buy mixes that you just add water to, but even those aren’t fool proof. The mixes will usually have you add water then let them stand for 15 minutes to rehydrate before using.
Many think of a Falafel sandwich as healthy, but that’s not necessarily true. It can be laden with sodium, which hides in the pickled toppings, and has more calories (750) than a Big Mac (540.) A Big Mac is also lower in sodium. The fat level will be around the same. Nutritionists say the sodium level can be reduced by choosing only one of the pickled toppings, and sticking to fresh items such as lettuce, tomato, onion, etc, for the rest of the toppings.
Falafel pita: 765 calories, 29g fat, 1,560 mg sodium, protein 24g, 102g carbohydrates. 
Falafel comes from the Arabic word “falfil”, meaning “pepper”.
 Ogilvie, Megan. The Dish: Falafel pita has more calories, sodium than Big Mac. Toronto, Canada: The Toronto Star. 12 August 2010.
Levy, Tracy. The new McFalafel… it’s not what you think. The writer endures a grueling taste test to determine how well a McDonald’s brand falafel stacks up to the classic corner-store Israeli restaurant variety. Tel Aviv, Israel: Haaretz. 2 February 2011.