Edinburgh falafel vendor finds secret to success following Middle East trip

John Robertson set off for a trip to Israel and Palestine on a quest to find the perfect falafel.
John Robertson set off for a trip to Israel and Palestine on a quest to find the perfect falafel.
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The quest for the best falafel has taken new business owner John Robertson to Amsterdam, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and now Edinburgh.

Nestled behind the cricket pavilion in The Meadows is a bright red former police box that has been taken over by the charity web designer where he sells the tastiest chickpea fritters in town. Always an admirer of good falafel, after living in Amsterdam where the dish is common, John, from Musselburgh, wanted to establish a street-food eaterie in his home town that would showcase the best of Middle Eastern cuisine.

He said: “After weeks of working on recipes last year, testing on friends and family, I realised I’d hit upon the perfect formula but I realised I’d never visited the part of the world where the falafel is most popular, and where they are part of the fabric of society rather than a sideshow in a kebab shop.”

Soon he was exploring Palestine and Israel for inspiration. There he ate falafel all day every day, washed down with freshly-pressed pomegranate juice and the Falafel Prophecy was born. Since opening last weekend he has been feeding the sun-drunk masses and selling out of his perfected recipe.

He has had excellent feedback online and in real life but it is the return custom that excites him the most

John, 43, said: “I’m confident in the product after doing so much research and testing – while the basics of the recipe are standard, the balance of ingredients are my own. I’m just trying to do one thing really, really well.”

He makes the mix and sauces at home every day, where his chief product testers are his two children, three and six, before transporting them via bike and a backpack to the police box to be cooked and served up fresh. The Falafel Prophecy is open seven days a week, from noon to 3pm Monday to Friday and noon-5pm Saturday and Sunday. During the summer months he plans to stay open later to make the most of the tourist footfall and locals basking in the sun.

He hopes to change the opinion of Edinburgh foodies whose only encounter with the delicacy might have been the duller offerings proffered by supermarkets.

John started his street food enterprise in Glasgow in a food truck outside the BBC by the River Clyde and it was the feedback he recieved that made him feel confident in his ambitions.

He said: “A few people said that it was the best falafel they had ever tasted. I knew I was on to something then.”

He had loyalty cards printed and within a week fans were coming back for their free falafel after collecting the required seven stamps.

He also offers free wraps for children under five: “Being a parent I know the frustration of spending £5 on something your kids won’t eat.”

He is mastering social media to spread the word about his one-man operation but has plans for two or three more kiosks around the city with an expanded range including indonesian and Mexican- inspired falafel.