balila by shorkk

Balila is a Lebanese dish using the ever useful store cupboard essential, chickpeas, with a few additions to make them sing. While soaking chickpeas over night isn’t tricky, remembering to do so can be! So a tin or two will do. If you really want to maximise the taste, the Bold Bean company and Brindisa have chickpeas in a jar which are bigger and creamier and worth the extra for a dish where such few ingredients are used.  Flavour and goodness come from the lemon, garlic and cumin and help to turn the bland taste of chickpeas into something special. A generous amount of Zejd’s extra virgin olive oil added just before eating, adds to the health properties of the dish, as well as providing flavour. A tasty healthy dish to be eaten warm, with some bread and a salad.

Our thanks to Barbara Massaad who has kindly allowed us to reproduce her recipe from Mezze, which has been stunningly illustrated by Pascale Hares.

makes enough for 4 


300g dried chickpeas (or 2 x 400g tin or a 600g of Brindisa or Bold Bean) 
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1-2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
120ml Zejd extra virgin olive oil 
lemon to taste 
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp parsley chopped



  1. Start the night before, soak the chickpeas in a generous amount of fresh water.
  2. The next morning, drain and add the chickpeas to a pan, cover with a generous amount of water. Add the bicarbonate of soda, this will help to soften the chickpeas as the cook. Bring to the boil and skim.  Reduce the heat and cook until the chickpeas are soft and tender, easily squashed between your finger and thumb.
  3. Crush 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, depending on taste, in a pestle and mortar with the salt.  Add a tablespoon of the olive oil and blend, gradually adding the rest as the mixture binds.  
  4. Drain the tender chickpeas, keeping back a cup of the cooking liquid, and place in a bowl.  Add in the garlic and olive oil mixture, with a little of the cooking liquid, and stir well to coat the chickpeas.  Squeeze some lemon, and taste.
  5. Gently fry the cumin in a small pan, then crush in a pestle and mortar.  Sprinkle on top of the dish, and finish with the chopped parsley and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

Best eaten warm, scooping up the mixture with a piece of flat bread.  

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