“Wow this is a really good falafel!”
Crispy herb rich flavorful falafel slathered in tahini sauce with arugula wrapped in a collard green leaf. This is how I discovered Ihsan’s Falafel and Amin Musa at Worldfest (now Vegfest), Los Angeles’s largest vegan Earth Day (he was a vendor and I was a speaker). Ihsan’s Falafel is significantly amazing, and a very green, healthy falafel too. Ihsan’s Falafel is a mobile vegan falafel business and you can find him at USC and many farmers markets around Los Angeles. Amin is a wonderful, happy guy with excellent food.
For folks from the Middle East, falafel (main ingredient garbanzo beans) is a staple food—everyone loves and always eats falafel. Amin was born in Sudan, which is in Africa, but he told me that many people consider it the Middle East. He went to school in Dubai with more of a melting pot of Middle Eastern children. His recipe comes from his mother, who would make lots of falafel and freeze them, and then send him to school where he would eat 1-2 falafel each day. Other kids brought money to school to spend on chips and pop, though after they tried his falafel they became jealous! Amin would sell his falafels to the kids and then use the money he earned to buy chips and pop!
He came to North America and went to university in Canada. Later, Amin attended the famous Kushi Institute founded by Michio Kushi, a champion of the natural foods movement. In 2011, he shared his falafel recipe with his class there and everyone went crazy. He had such a favorable reaction, and that is how Ihsan’s Falafel started.
Because most people from the Mediterranean make their own falafel at home, Amin never ate falafel out. (I think I ate the first falafel in my life in the parking lot of a Grateful Dead show when I was a teenager, which was a super junk food falafel, but that’s a different story.) Part of his work now is to educate Los Angelinos about falafel, and also teach everyone to understand the difference between a junk food falafel and his falafel. During his market research, Amin found that most Southern California falafel was:
- Too much flour
- Not enough herbs
Amin educates people so they understand that falafel is a great source of protein and a wonderful food for the veg* lifestyles. He taught me that falafel came from Christian Egyptians, historically, as a food used to replace meat during Lent.
What I found significant about Ihsan’s Falafel were the greens; the collard wrap, the arugula inside, and the herbs inside the actual falafel. He told me that some of his customers didn’t eat bread, so he tried to use lettuce as a wrap…but the lettuce wouldn’t roll, so now he gets the rollable collards from our local farmers. He says, “It’s a great way to get your greens,” and I completely agree.
How can I find Ihsan’s Falafel?
Sunday: Santa Monica Farmers Market (morning)
Wednesday: USC (for the students) and Miracle Mile Farmers Market (both lunchtime)
Thursday: Century City Farmer’s Market (lunchtime)
In Los Angeles, Ihsan’s Falafel is at farmers market food stands, festivals, and they also do catering.
For catering, the menu can include other dishes like baba ganoush and dolmas (stuffed grape leaves). YUM!
Ihsan’s Falafel is the healthiest, most fantastic falafel in Los Angeles!