The key to success is to use dried chickpeas soaked overnight. Tinned chickpeas go soggy and tend to fall apart while cooking. You’ll need a food processor or blender. It's worth making the traditional fixin's to serve with these delicious crunchy nuggetes, but if you're short on time, skip the sauce and salad and serve with shop-bought hummus.
Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water.
For the tahini sauce: blitz the tahini, lemon juice and garlic in a blender or food processor until smooth. Gradually add up to 200ml water (approx.) depending on the consistency you prefer. Ideally it should be like runny honey. Taste and adjust seasoning.
For the salad: soak the red onion (if using) in a small bowl of cold water with a pinch of salt.
Shake the chopped tomatoes on the board to remove some but not all of the excess seeds and juice. Add to the cucumbers and parsley.
Rinse and drain the onion. Mix everything in a salad bowl with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Mix well, season to taste and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil just before serving.
For the falafel: drain the chickpeas and blitz in a food processor or blender with the onion, paprika, cumin, garlic, parsley, coriander and salt. Mix to a fine consistency. Add more salt or seasoning to taste. Add the bicarbonate of soda and pulse another couple of times.
Transfer to a bowl, fold in the sesame seeds, cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes (longer if you need/want). Make 20 smallish compact balls, discs or ovals with your hands or a falafel scoop.
Warm the oil in a frying pan or shallow saucepan and when hot (about 150°C) add a few falafel balls in a single layer. Shallow fry each side over medium heat for about 2 minutes per side. Or deep fry for 3-4 minutes for a really crunchy coating.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a sieve over a bowl or plate to drain the oil. Fry the remaining falafel.
Serve warm and crisp as they are or with the tahini, Israeli salad and pita.