Enjoy the delicious fresh flavors of balela salad. Made with tender chickpeas tossed with chopped tomato, onions, herbs, and spices. It can be enjoyed cold or warm for breakfast, lunch or dinner with your favorite flatbread, pita pocket or part of a mezze.
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What Is Balela Salad?
Balela salad is a spin-off of traditional balila, a typical Middle Eastern breakfast food, made up of warmed tender chickpeas mixed with spices and topped with the best quality olive oil.
The spin-off is the addition of fresh vegetables and herbs, turning it into the classic ancient Middle Eastern chickpea salad, which can be enjoyed any time of day.
This version is from my Lebanese family's cookbook, and whilst it is a simple recipe, it most certainly has a lot of flavor.
It can be served cold or warm chickpea salad.
How to Pronounce Balela in English?
The word Balela is an Arabic word which means "cooked chickpeas in liquid". It is pronounced bal·lee·lah.
Some pronounce it a little differently, according to region, it is also written as balilah or balila.
Also in Arabic, this recipe is referred to as "salata balela" which translates to "balela salad".
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Super quick to make, simply throw all the ingredients together. Whenever I am stuck on what to eat that’s super quick and healthy, I throw a bowl of balela salad together and happily eat away.
- Can be enjoyed both warm and cool.
- This healthy salad is adaptable, you can incorporate more chopped vegetables.
- Dietary friendly - Naturally gluten-free, soy and corn-free. It is a traditional vegan chickpea salad.
Ingredients and Variations
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are the main ingredient in this Middle Eastern bean salad, they can be served warm or cool. The ratio of chickpeas is generally always greater than all other ingredients.
Fresh white or red onion and tomato should be diced small. You can also use cherry tomatoes which can be sliced in half or quartered.
Herbs should be fresh and not dried and generally include fresh parsley and fresh mint leaves which are finely chopped.
Fresh lemon juice is important to achieve the best-tasting zesty flavor this dish boasts.
Fresh garlic clove is crushed and then mixed into the dressing. You can adjust the amount of garlic to suit your liking, I find one clove to be sufficient. Whilst I will always recommend using fresh, you can use garlic powder instead if needed.
Extra virgin olive oil is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine. Use the best quality you can find, a small amount goes a long way, if you are on an oil-free diet, simply leave this out.
Cumin is a strong spice and if overused can result in bitterness. A little goes a long way.
Salt and black pepper is added to taste and to enhance the overall flavor of this Middle Eastern salad.
If you’d like your balela salad to be creamy, add a teaspoon of tahini (affiliate link) and mix it well. This adds a lovely hint of sesame nutty flavor.
Use this recipe as a base and then consider these delicious additions such as fresh cucumbers, green onion, radishes, red cabbage, and red bell peppers (capsicum)
Chopped and pitted black olives.
Other beans such as black beans can also be added for additional protein.
How to Make Balela Salad
For warm chickpeas in a saucepan over medium heat, add chickpeas with a tablespoon of aquafaba, cumin, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Stir until the chickpeas are warmed (a couple of minutes), and turn off the heat.
If you do not want warm chickpeas, skip the above step.
Toss the salad in a large bowl by adding the chickpeas, chopped vegetables and fresh herbs.
Make the lemon and olive oil dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, oil, crushed garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.
Add the dressing and toss again ensuring all ingredients are covered. Do a taste test and adjust seasoning if needed.
Serve warm or cold with an extra sprinkling extra cumin.
Only the freshest and best quality veggies should be used.
The ratios of ingredients can be altered to suit your taste.
Lebanese chickpea salad can easily be eaten on its own. It holds a good amount of protein and is filling. However, here are some suggestions;
Perfect for eating with Lebanese flatbread, also known as pita bread. Try stuffing this balela into warm pita pockets
Turn your pita bread into crunchy pita chips and use them as a scoop.
Serve it as part of a mezze where you can find other dishes such as fragrant zaatar (a wonderful Lebanese herb blend that I can't live without), creamy baba ghanouj, hummus, cucumber and yoghurt salad, traditional falafel, brined lupini beans and more.
Can you freeze balela? Freezing balela is not recommended, it is always best to consume fresh. Any leftovers can be placed in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 4-5 days in an airtight container, though it is best consumed before this period.
More Middle Eastern Salads and Recipes
Or for some different type of Lebanese food try Lebanese zucchini with burghul
Did you make this? I'd love to know! Leave me a comment below with a ★★★★★ rating or tag @plantbasedfolk on social media.
Easy Balela Salad (Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad)
- 250 grams Chickpeas canned or dry (pre-cook dry variety)
- 1 tbs Chickpea water aquafaba
- 1½ small Tomato diced small
- ½ small White onion diced small (or red)
- 1 handful Flat leaf parsley roughly chopped small
- 10 leaves Mint roughly chopped small
- If you'd like a warm chickpea salad do this step, otherwise skip this step. Over medium heat, in a saucepan add chickpeas with aquafaba (chickpea water), cumin and garlic, salt and black pepper. Once warmed, turn off heat. This should take a couple of minutes.250 grams Chickpeas, 1 tbs Chickpea water, 1 small Garlic clove, ½ teaspoon Cumin, 1½ teaspoon Salt, 1¼ teaspoon Black pepper
- In a large mixing bowl, add the chickpeas, diced vegetables, chopped herbs. Gently toss together.1½ small Tomato, ½ small White onion, 1 handful Flat leaf parsley, 10 leaves Mint
- Whisk together all the dressing ingredients (if you warmed the chickpeas you'll need to just combine the lemon juice and oil). Then drizzle it over the salad and gently toss again until it is incorporated well. Do a taste test and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve with an extra sprinkle of cumin. See serving suggestions for ideas and pairings.1⅓ tbs Olive oil, 1 small Lemon
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.
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