Soak overnight: Place chickpeas in a large bowl, cover with plenty of cold water and soak for at least 12 hours and up to 24. Drain well.
Mix: Cut the onion into quarters, process for 5 seconds on level 5. Grate garlic on a grater and add it to the pot. Add chickpeas, gram flour, roughly chopped herbs (including their finer stems), baking soda, cumin, coriander, chili flakes, salt, and pepper.
Process for 30 seconds on level 5. Scrape the mixture down the bowl's walls and process again for about 10 seconds. Scrape again, repeat a couple more times until you have the right consistency: the mixture should look like coarse sand. Don’t overprocess; you should not have a paste.
Refrigerate: Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24.
Make balls: Add sesame seeds just before forming and cooking the balls. Scoop with an ice scooper or your hands and form balls or discs. I usually get about 20 balls of approximately 1.7-2 oz (50-55 g) each.
Pour oil in a large skillet, about 1 inch (2 ½ cm) depth. Heat on medium-high heat to 360 degrees Fahrenheit (185 degrees Celsius) (Note 3).
Fry: Place the balls into the hot oil using a slotted spoon. Caution: hot oil! Cook in batches for about 4 minutes per batch. Turn the balls a few times in between to cook on all sides. They should be crispy and deeply golden brown.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to remove the excess oil.
Heat the fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
Spray or brush the air fryer basket and the falafel with cooking oil. Fry the balls in two batches; they should fit in the basket in a single layer and not touch each other much.
Cook for 14 minutes, flipping halfway, until golden brown, crispy, and cooked through. Repeat with the second batch. If they are flat, cook them for only 10-12 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). Line a baking tray with parchment paper and brush it with oil. Brush or spray the chickpea balls with oil as well.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping and spraying with oil halfway until they are crispy and brown.If they are flat, cook them for 5 minutes less, and check to see if they are cooked through.
It makes almost 5 cups of soaked chickpeas or 800 g. If you want to use cooked pulses, you will have to search for a specific recipe; they will not work here.
Or cayenne pepper to taste; it is usually hotter than the flakes.
If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a small amount of the mix into the hot oil. If it sizzles nicely, you can start frying.
Bonus tahini sauce: mix 3 tablespoons tahini with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 grated garlic cloves, red chili flakes, salt, and pepper to taste. Add 1-2 tablespoons of cold water to loosen it up a bit more if desired.