This is a traditional dish of Sicily, probably derived from falafel from the Arab era of Sicily, about a millennium ago. They are good by themself or in a sandwich (pane e panella). It is important that the chickpea flour be fresh as if it’s even a little stale, it will lose its ability to stick right.


  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • parsley
  • vegetable oil


panella with arancini

Panella and Arancini served together on a plate

Put water in a pan. Slowly sprinkle in chickpea flour while whisking vigorously to prevent lumps forming. When the mixture is smooth, turn on heat to medium. Start stirring with wooden spoon or silicone spatula soon after the heat is applied, as it start coagulating sooner than you might think. Keep stirring to keep the mixture smooth as the water boils away. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Consult variants below if you want to try a different herb mix. Keep stirring until it forms a paste-like consistency (taking the spoon or spatula out of the pot leaves some of the mixture hanging from it). At that point, immediately pour it all out onto a flat pan and smooth out until it’s about 1/2″ or 10mm and smooth the top with the spatula or spoon. Clean off and dip in water if need be. The mixture should set within an hour.

After the mixture is solidified, cut into squares (Western Sicilian style) or triangles (Eastern Sicilian style) of desired size. Deep fry in light olive oil (good olive oil is no good for deep frying) until lightly browned. Can be eated by itself, with lemon juice and salt or on a ciabatta bun.


Italian-American style – add oregano and minced garlic
Arab style – add minced garlic and onion as well as cumin, serve with tahini sauce on top
Shan tofu – leave out the parsley and use in traditional Burmese dishes. Can also be used in place of tofu in many East Asian dishes.