Middle East

McFalafel dropped from the menu at McDonald's in Israel

Customers at a McDonald's in West Jerusalem.
Image caption Customers line up to buy kosher burgers at a Jerusalem McDonald's outlet

The McDonald's international burger chain is withdrawing its version of the favourite Middle Eastern snack, falafel, from restaurants in Israel.

McFalafel is said to have attracted relatively few customers after it was introduced earlier this year.

The deep-fried chickpea patties are widely available at street food stalls.

"We realised that falafel doesn't belong in McDonald's," Omri Padan, chief executive of McDonald's Israel, told the news website, Ynet.

"We wanted a vegetarian dish... but it didn't succeed. The falafel dish is gradually being removed from menus," he is quoted as saying.

McDonald's declined to comment further to the BBC, but said it was bringing out new products.

Admissions of defeat are unusual for the company, which tries to tailor its menus to local markets around the world.

Burgers and fries

Image caption Falafel is fast-food Middle Eastern style

Few customers at the McDonald's outlet in the Jerusalem Mall in Malha, west Jerusalem, seemed to mind that McFalafel was no longer available.

"I never even heard about it," said Sara. "Their specialty is burgers. We don't need McDonald's coming over from the [United] States to make falafel. We have Israeli places."

"I never tried it," added Kfir, waiting to order burgers and fries for his children. "But you can understand why people preferred to go to the falafel stall to get falafel."

At a neighbouring falafel stand, the vendor says it is harder than people think to make good falafel.

"Falafel has to be fresh. We make it fresh everyday, never frozen," he says. "This is what tastes best."

The snack is popular across much of the Middle East, where the balls of ground chickpeas are typically deep-fried and served with salads and pickles in a flat bread.

However, like houmous - a chickpea dip - the food does cause controversy. Both Israel and the Palestinians claim it as a national dish.

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