Black Garlic Falafel with Gruyere

Does this combo sound weird to you? It did to me too, but the right kind of weird, just enough to be intriguing and not so weird as to be off-putting.

Black Garlic Falafel with Gruyere and Chili Mayo

I’ve had a lot of falafel, but the first time I encountered it served with cheese of any kind was at an Asian fusion restaurant in Sydney.  To me, that was a concept worth exploring, and it turned out to be yummy enough that I wanted to recreate it in my own kitchen. That falafel was also made with black garlic, although exactly where it was included I have no idea, since I inhaled the dish so fast I forgot to make note of important things like ingredient placement. So when I tried to recreate it, I was left to imagine for myself, and my best guess was to replace the garlic with black garlic, grate a decadent amount of cheese on top, and call it done. Oh yeah, there is also spicy mayo and green onions, because falafel and white cheese is a little to bland for my eye palate.

Also, black garlic? Go get some. It's the result of a long, slow caramelization process that results in a mellow, sweeter version of garlic flavor, almost like balsamic, and adds a different note to the falafel than garlic usually does. I'm all for it.

My thoughts are short today. Happy Friday! 

Black Garlic
Black Garlic Falafel Ingredients
Black Garlic Falafel

Black Garlic Falafel with Gruyere

Inspired by Ms. G's in Sydney, falafel adapted from Joan Nathan

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 tbs chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 small heads black garlic (I used this)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4-6 tbs flour (see notes)
  • oil, for frying
  • 3-4 oz gruyere
  • 2 tsp spicy chili crisp
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  1. Cover chickpeas in a large bowl by at least 2 inches of water. Let soak overnight.
  2. When ready to make falafel dough: drain chickpeas. Place the chickpeas, onion, cilantro, salt, chili flakes, black garlic, and cumin in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chopped and combined but not pureed.
  3. Sprinkle mixture with baking powder and 4 tbs flour and pulse to combine. Test the dough. If it forms a small ball when you squeeze it and doesn't stick to your hands, it's ready. Otherwise, add more flour. Turn the dough into a large bowl and cover and refrigerate, at least 3-4 hours or up to overnight.
  4. While dough is resting, prep your chili mayo. Combine the chili oil and mayo in a small bowl and stir until blended. Cover and set aside in refrigerator until needed. 
  5. When ready to fry, heat a 1/4 inch or so of oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet. Form the dough into large patties (about 4 or 5) and fry until golden and crispy on one side, and flip and fry until golden and crispy on the other side. Set on a paper towel lined plate and drain. Fry in batches if necessary, do not crowd the pan.
  6. To serve, array the patties on a platter or large plate on a good smear of the chili mayo. Using a microplane zester, grate as much gruyere over the top as you wish, the more the better, really. Garnish with green onions and serve hot.


  • You can sub the flour in this with chickpea flour if you want to make it gluten free, but I've never had results as good as with regular flour. I also almost always need the full amount of flour called for.
  • You can certainly form the falafel mixture into small balls and deep fry as is traditional. Top as above with the gruyere and onions and serve the chili mayo as a dipping sauce.
  • I found the black garlic on Amazon and provided a link above, as well as a link to the chili crisp, but you can definitely find both for much cheaper at a well-stocked Asian market.