Turn on the oven or grill to a high heat. Lay the eggplant whole on an aluminum covered baking sheet or directly on the grill, and let it go for as long as it takes until the eggplant is completely blackened, turning it occasionally to ensure an even blistering. (approximately 30-40 minutes.)
If making the tomato-basil roasted eggplant salad, add the bell peppers to the oven for about 15 minutes after the eggplant, and let them roast alongside it.
Then, using plastic thongs or your hands (never metal), put the eggplant (and peppers) in a plastic bag and let rest until cool enough to handle. Once cooled, peel the eggplant (and peppers) with your hands, and remove the flesh.
Using your hands, tear eggplant flesh into strands and chop peppers. Drizzle wiith a bit of lemon and set aside, covered in plastic wrap.
Chop the rest of the ingredients and add to the eggplant, and season as needed. The salads can be served immediately, though they get even better if you let them sit.
If using dry chickpeas, pour chickpeas into a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.
Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.
Add baking powder and 4 tbsp. of flour, and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered for several hours.
Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts, or use a falafel scoop, available in Middle Eastern markets.
Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 F in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test, if it falls apart, add a little more flour to the mixture. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
To assemble falafel sandwiches, fill half a pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, onion, green pepper, and pickled turnips. Drizzle with tahini thinned with water.
FUN FACTS: 1. Egyptians omit the cilantro and substitute fava beans for the chickpeas. 2. Tahini (also called tahini) is an oily paste made from ground sesame seeds. It is available in Middle Eastern markets. 3. To garnish your falafel in true Israeli style, try adding one or several of the following condiments: Harrissa hot sauce, pickled turnips, mango amba (pickled), or sauerkraut.
In a food processor blend together the chickpeas, garlic, onion,
cumin, cayenne, herbs, a teaspoon of salt, pepper, baking soda,
and lemon juice. Add water by the teaspoon if the machine is not
On a lined baking sheet, spoon out the chick pea mixture into
about 1.5 inch scoops. Flatten out the scoops to form patties
and then brush the olive oil on top.
Bake until the patties are golden brown, about 10-15 minutes
In a small bowl whisk the tahini with ½ cup water and the
remaining salt. Drizzle the tahini sauce over the falafel before
Serve the falafel by itself or in a pita as a sandwich with Israeli
salad, cabbage slaw and hummus.