The Central Market stall doing falafel right.
Adelaide’s best falafel
Like most foods relegated to late night eateries in bar-prone districts of the city, falafel is rarely treated right.
Deep fried en masse for punters stumbling out of nightclubs, wrapped up in a yiros, drowned in garlic sauce, and shoveled down unthinking gullets, it’s best known as a sobering 3am lifebuoy in an ocean of cheap base spirits, rather than the street food delicacy it truly is.
Real Falafel is located at shop 22a Central Market Arcade and opens from Monday to Saturday.
If what you’re after is falafel at its best, there is a man with a shop, located in the absolute antithesis of Adelaide’s very late night bar scene, the Adelaide Central Market, providing exactly that.
Mitch Aldawsari came to Adelaide from Saudi Arabia in 2015, and in three years he’s worked up from dishy, to chef, to business owner, opening Real Falafel one month ago – a small stall in the southeastern corner of the Market.
“Some people, they think falafel is dry, which it’s really bad when you give people falafel and it’s dry,” Mitch says.
“Falafel has to be fresh, served fresh, yummy… A falafel is very much gold outside, very green inside. That’s a great falafel. And when you eat it, you don’t need to work it out, real falafel has to melt in your mouth straight away.”
“In the Middle East, in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, falafel is really famous, and it’s really a shame to serve it cold or [from] frozen, which [is how I came up with] this idea.”
Taking a finely detailed approach to his product, Mitch’s falafel dough is made from scratch each morning, with produce sourced from his Central Market neighbours, as are the accompanying salads, with the pickled cucumber and red cabbage made to his recipe.
Even the pita is a Mitch recipe, which he has made for him by a local baker.
“It’s one of the real great and old recipes in the Middle East, and anywhere in Israel you will see it, if you go to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, those kind of pita.” Mitch says.
“I’ve been working very hard to find a bakery to do it for me… then I spend with her three hours to do my bread. I work hard to set up this shop, and I’m so proud.”
Understanding the reputation of the falafel yiros locally, Mitch has made amendments to ensure his falafel pita is an appropriate lunchtime option for people working in the city (i.e. not employing fistfuls of garlic).
This care and attention to detail results in a falafel that is as textural as it is delicious. In the form of a pita pocket, the flavour balances perfectly (especially if you request the Middle Eastern hot sauce Mitch has on hand) and doesn’t turn to a soggy mush in your hands in its last moments.
“Ninety per cent of my customer coming back, which, I’m so proud of that. I’m happy. Absolutely I’m happy, because customer coming back, that means the food’s good, the service is good, and that’s really good,” Mitch says.
Mitch hopes to soon launch a Real Falafel food truck and take his enterprise across South Australia and beyond.
“If I’m going to establish, I will try to take [it] big, but South Australia [will] get it first,” Mitch says, demonstrating the best kind of South Australian parochialism.
“I moved from Saudi Arabia because I do not follow my religion anymore, because of my sexuality, and I want to be here, [where there’s] more freedom.
“People here are so friendly. Very much you’re talking about a nice city, quiet, and nice to live here, because people here are more friendly… [In a] big city, it’s busier, headache and stuff like that. That’s why I choose Adelaide. I love Adelaide.”