© 2012 by Erin Kunkel
| December 14, 2012

Think of this dinner as deconstructed falafel that requires just a fraction of the effort.

First, chickpeas are fried in olive oil and tossed in a mixture of smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, creating a slightly crunchy exterior that hides a smooth, creamy interior.

READ: 4 Tantalizing Homemade Hotsauce Recipes

These spicy-hot chickpeas are then tossed with a vibrant salad of mixed greens, mint, and cilantro, stuffed inside a warm pita and drizzled with homemade tzatziki.

Save yourself a lot of time by using canned chickpeas. Just make sure they’re bone-dry when you drop them into the olive oil to avoid oil spatters.

Spicy Fried Chickpeas & Herb Salad with Tzatziki

Entree, Appetizer
6 servings


  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1⁄4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and patted very dry
  • 6 medium pita breads, 6 inches in diameter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 25 fresh mint leaves, very coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, very coarsely chopped
  • 6 cups mixed salad greens
  • FOR TZATZKI: 1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced, Kosher salt, 2 cups whole milk, Greek yogurt, 3-4 cloves garlic, minced, 3 tbs chopped fresh mint, 3 tbs chopped fresh dill, 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1-3 tsp lemon juice


  1. Heat the oven to 350 F. Combine the paprika, cumin, coriander, and cayenne in a medium-size bowl and set aside. Season with salt.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat until it begins to ripple. Working in 2 batches, add the chickpeas to the frying pan and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and crispy, 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chickpeas to paper towels to drain briefly. Place in the bowl with the spices and toss to coat.
  3. Wrap the pita in foil and place in the oven until warm, 10 minutes.
  4. Make the dressing by whisking together the extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season with salt. Toss the mint, cilantro, and salad greens together in a bowl with the dressing. Add the chickpeas.
  5. Cut the pitas in half and open each pocket. Divide the salad between the pita pockets. Drizzle with the Tzatziki and serve immediately.
  6. FOR TZATZKI: Place the cucumbers on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let drain for 10 minutes. Using paper towels, squeeze out the excess moisture (don’t worry about squishing the cucumber pieces). In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, mint, dill, and oil. Mix well. Add lemon juice to taste and season with salt.