Ottolenghi writes, "In Jerusalem, Balilah is a popular Palestinian street food consisting of fresh chickpeas seasoned with cumin and lemon juice and it makes the most gratifying snack." He also states, "On the corner of the souk in the Old City stood the very popular balilah man. He had large piles of freshly cooked chickpeas on his stall, steaming and beautifully decorated with parsley and lemon. Like a magician, he used to whip the balilah into a newspaper cone in a flash and serve it to the eager customer."
I don't know about you, but I am a bean lover and that sounds heavenly. I have wanted to make this recipe forever and I am so glad I have finally got around to it! It is the perfect snack!
This balilah is so quick and easy to whip together, especially with canned chickpeas. Simply drain the beans, add chopped parsley, sliced green onions, chopped lemon, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Give it all a mix and you are good to go. Of course, I feel this is better even the next day when the flavors have had a chance to meld together. You can even add chopped tomato or cucumber, or even feta cheese. You can eat this as a snack on its own, or served in pita or with pita chips. You can eat it warm, room temp, or cold straight from the fridge. It is also great served over chicken or fish or thrown into a salad. It is so versatile and delicious and it certainly won't last long!
Adapted from Jerusalem
by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Serves 4, or more
1 cup dried or 2 (15oz.) cans chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda, if using dried beans
1 cup chopped parsley
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper
If Using Dried Beans: The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water at least twice their volume. Add the baking soda and leave at room temp to soak overnight. Drain the chickpeas and place them in a large saucepan. Cover with plenty of cold water and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, skim the surface of the water, then decrease the heat and simmer for1 to 1-1/2 hours, until the chickpeas are very soft but still retain their shape.
If Using Canned Beans: Use two 15.5 oz. cans! Drain the chickpeas and place in a large bowl.
To Make The Balilah: Put the parsley and green onions in a large mixing bowl. Peel the lemon by topping and tailing it, placing on a board, and running a small sharp knife along its curves to remove the skin and white pith. Discard the skin, pith, and seeds and coarsely chop the flesh. Add the flesh and all of the juies to the bowl.
Once the chickpeas are ready, drain and add them to the bowl while they are still hot (If you are using canned beans you can heat them up if you like). Add the olive oil, cumin, 3/4 teaspoons salt, and a good grind of pepper. Mix well. Allow to cool down until just warm, taste for seasoning, and serve.