Eggplant Falafel

This recipe is adapted from chef Monique Barbeau’s “Eggplant Falafel with Tahini Dressing”, as featured on “In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs“. I use regular globe eggplant in this recipe, but you could probably substitute thinner Japanese or Chinese eggplant if you need to. When shopping, look for firm eggplants that feel heavy for their size, with smooth, unwrinkled skin (light or soft eggplants tend to be spongy and bland in flavor). You can also change up the ingredients for the salad to suit your own palate- try a mixture of yellow and red heirloom tomatoes, or substitute in some peppery mesclun mix or microgreens for extra flavor. This recipe makes around three dozen falafel (depending on the size)- leftovers reheat well in the microwave or oven. I can’t really say for certain how long these falafel keep in the refrigerator though- they tend to all mysteriously vanish by the next day in my house.


For tahini dressing:

  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For falafel:

  • 1 large eggplant (about a pound)
  • 2 cups chickpeas (soaked overnight)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

*Additional Ingredients: salt, flour, and oil for frying (use a neutrally flavored oil  such as vegetable or peanut oil)

For salad:

  • lettuce
  • tomatoes, chopped
  • green onions, slivered
  • radishes, thinly sliced
  • cucumber, chopped or finely sliced

To serve:

  • pita bread, cut into wedges
  • dukka*
  • chopped mint (for garnish)

Note: Dukka (also spelled duqqa, du’ah, do’a, or dukkah) is an Egyptian condiment consisting of a mixture of herbs, nuts, and spices- you can find pre-made blends in many grocery stores, or you can try making your own (Food & Wine has a good recipe for homemade dukka).


To make the tahini dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients together in a large bowl, and whisk until smooth and thin enough to pour (you may need additional water or lemon juice to achieve the right consistency and flavor). Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the falafel and salad. This dressing keeps well in the refrigerator, and can be prepared a day or two in advance.

To make the falafel: Halve and the eggplant lengthwise and roast in an uncovered in a baking dish at 350° F  for 20 minutes. Set aside and let cool, then scoop out the eggplant flesh, and discard the skin. Pulse all falafel ingredients together in a food  processor to an almost-fine consistency (depending on the capacity of your processor’s work bowl, you may need to do this in batches). Add 1/4 cup flour to the processed vegetables, and pulse to combine. The mixture should begin to come together, but depending on the amount of water in your eggplant, you may need to add in an additional 1/4 cup of flour. Refrigerate mixture for 4 hours, then mix in 2 teaspoons of salt.

Form falafel mix into balls, and fry at 350375° F. Fry until the falafel float to the top (you may want to fry the falafel for an extra 3 minutes or so, depending on how big you make them). Transfer falafel to drain on a wire rack or paper towel lined plate, and then bake the cooked falafel in a 350° F oven for 10 minutes afterward to help them set.

To make the salad: Arrange lettuce on plate, top with tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and green onions. Drizzle with tahini dressing.

To serve: Arrange pita wedges on plate next to salad, sprinkle with dukka seasoning. Top with falafel, and garnish with chopped mint.