Did you know that the falafel is a Middle Eastern staple that traces its origins back to Egypt? In fact, the falafel is actually a descendant of ta’amia, or ball-shaped fava beans, which was known to be created by the Christian Copts of Egypt in their search for a meatless alternative to eat for certain holidays like Lent.

As the ta’amia gained great popularity, the Jewish community in Egypt adopted the recipe and began making it with garbanzo beans, further spreading its exposure to the people of Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. Since then, the falafel has been enjoyed in many forms, from the traditional deep-fried sphere, to patties, and on pita bread drizzled with sauces or covered with salad.

Zankou Chicken has served falafel since its opening in Hollywood in 1984, staying true to the values and flavors of Beirut. The falafel currently ranks as one of the top-selling sides, and is also loved by many as a wrap or as the main item on a plate; no matter the variety, the recipe for Zankou Chicken’s falafel has remained the same. Until today.

We sat down with Ara, one of the Iskenderian brothers behind the new falafel recipe, to get a taste of this delicious new menu update.

What made you decide to create a new recipe for the falafel?

Ara Iskenderian: Zankou Chicken

Ara Iskenderian

I visited four separate restaurants and tried their falafel and found each of theirs more flavorful—and flavor is key! You see, there a lot of good restaurants out there, but you don’t always come back. For people to come back, you have to have a “hook”, and these restaurants’ “hooks” were their falafel. Our falafel, on the other hand, didn’t really have anything that made it that flavorful. So I completely changed the recipe and gave it to one of the cooks at Zankou Chicken—and the new falafel was born!

There are also things that are extraordinary, and there are things that are not so extraordinary. These not so extraordinary things are around because they work: take a professional football player and an amateur football player, for instance. They have different methodologies in preparation, in training. But one has the potential to be extraordinary, if you change the methodologies. That’s what I wanted to do for the falafel: I wanted to take a regular menu item and make it extraordinary.

So what’s in the new falafel recipe that you can reveal?

I can’t reveal much about the new recipe, except for that it’s made with all natural and locally produced ingredients, including garbanzos and new spices. The only other thing I can tell you about the new falafel is that the recipe is locked in a vault.

Why do you think this new falafel from Zankou Chicken is the best around?

Well, like I said before, we make our food with all natural and locally produced ingredients. We are also committed to making your food fresh, so it’s not made until you order. The new seasonings we added make this new falafel really flavorful, and we take the time to make everything by hand. Our process in making falafel is very intricate and really focuses on quality.

So what else can you tell us about the new falafel?

Zankou Chicken is offering everyone a free taste of our new falafel on Thursday, November 19th and Friday, November 20th. Visit one of our locations on either day and be sure to whisper “FALAFEL” when you order for an exclusive first taste before it hits the menu boards!

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