The best hummus Balila is a mouthwatering dish of tender warm chickpeas, topped with spices and copious amounts of cumin and olive oil. A typical Lebanese breakfast food (or brunch). Naturally gluten-free and vegan.
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What is Balila?
Balila is a Levantine dish made of cooked tender warm chickpeas dressed in olive oil, cumin, red hot chilli, sweet paprika spices and salt.
It is a popular Lebanese breakfast food (and across the Middle East) and is generally enjoyed alongside ful mudammas and a plate of pickled and fresh vegetables.
There are small food shops scattered across Lebanon that just specialize in hummus balila and similar foods. Hummus and ful are always coupled together in this type of recipe.
Hummus Balila in English
Balila in English is pronounced as ba·lee·lah. It is the Arabic word for cooked chickpeas. The Arabic word "hummus" is chickpeas in English.
😋Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- The best way to enjoy chickpeas, they are unbelievably tasty and creamy
- Easy to prepare
- Minimal and simple ingredients
- Dietary friendly - gluten-free and vegan, soy and corn-free.
✔️Ingredients You’ll Need
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Chickpeas - dry or canned can be used. If using canned chickpeas, go for the organic variety.
Dry chickpeas are my preference as the water of the cooked chickpeas will be used which is always better on flavor in comparison to canned.
Cumin is the hero spice used in this recipe. It is applied in copious amounts.
Sweet paprika and hot chili pepper are also two important spices to use in this meal. However, you can omit the chili if required.
Olive oil - use a high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Generally, a copious amount of it is used to dress the chickpeas. I have however limited to one tablespoon in this recipe - personal preference.
🔪How to Make Balila
Using Dry Chickpeas
Step 1 - Remove any unwanted chickpea pieces and then soak overnight in water (1 cup of chickpeas to 5 cups of water). The next morning, add the chickpeas and their water to a pot, bring to a soft boil over high heat and then turn down to low heat and cook with the lid partially open for approximately 40 minutes. Skim off any froth.
Using Canned Chickpeas
Step 1 - Add chickpeas with their brine to a pot and cook them until they are warmed and tender.
Step 2 - In a bowl, combine warm chickpeas with some of their brine (I generally add 3-5 tablespoons of brine to 1 ½ cups of chickpeas) and all the spices and salt. Top with olive (you can mix it through too) and serve warm with an additional sprinkle of cumin.
Balila is always eaten with fresh Lebanese flatbread, also known as pita bread. Rip off a piece to use as a scoop with your hands.
Hummus balila is always coupled with foul mudammas, another Lebanese breakfast food of cooked warm fava beans, however when at home, it doesn't have to be so.
In addition to the above, a generous side serving of pickled and fresh vegetables is served, this normally includes fresh mint, radish, tomato, olives, pickled green chili, pickled turnip known as lifit (affiliate link) and pickled Armenian cucumbers (affiliate link).
The ratios of ingredients can be altered to suit your taste.
Hummus balila should not be dry and the brine of the chickpeas should be added in. This adds to the flavor and is generally mopped up using Lebanese flat bread or any type of pita bread will do.
A spin-off from this recipe is my delicious balela salad, vegetables are tossed through it and dressed in a lemon dressing.
A spoonful of tahini can be added, this variation is another dish called Musabaha.
Balila always uses warm/hot chickpeas and not cold. They are generally cooked in a pot and taken directly from the pot and mixed with the other ingredients to make the dish which is served immediately. Any unused leftover chickpeas can be placed in a sealed container in the fridge which can be warmed later on when needed.
Although balila is best eaten fresh, it can be stored. Once it has cooled down, any leftovers can be placed in an air-tight sealed container in the fridge for up to five days. It is best reheated before consumption.
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The Best Hummus Balila (Lebanese Warm Chickpeas)
- Using Dry Chickpeas - Remove any unwanted chickpea pieces and then soak overnight in water (1 cup of chickpeas to 5 cups of water). The next morning, add the chickpeas and their water to a pot, bring to a soft boil over high heat and then turn down to low heat and cook with lid partially open for approximately 40 minutes. Skim off any froth.Using Canned Chickpeas - Add chickpeas with their brine to a pot and cook them until they are warmed and tender.1½ cups Chickpeas
- In a bowl, combine warm chickpeas with some of their brine (I generally add 3-4 tablespoons of brine to 1 ½ cups of chickpeas) and all the spices and salt. Top with olive (you can mix it through too) and serve warm with an additional sprinkle of cumin.½ teaspoon Cumin, ½ teaspoon Salt, ¼ teaspoon Sweet paprika, ¼ teaspoon Red hot chili, 1 tablespoon Olive oil
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.