Not all chickpea salads are created equal, and if you’re seeking the pinnacle of flavor, satisfaction, and authenticity, allow us to introduce you to the world of balela.
A melody of textures, a burst of colors, and a symphony of tastes await those who dare to venture into the realm of this Middle Eastern delight.
Balela, a salad that speaks of tradition, innovation, and a passion for culinary artistry, is a testimony to how simplicity can give birth to extraordinary gastronomic experiences.
How to Make Balela: A Journey Through Flavorful Layers
Step 1: Embracing the Essentials
At the heart of this culinary masterpiece lies the eponymous star – cooked chickpeas. The very name “balela” is an ode to these legumes that form the foundation of the dish.
Unlike your average chickpea salad, balela is a symphony of flavors, a medley of fresh vegetables, and an array of aromatic herbs that dance on your palate.
Step 2: The Vegetable Ensemble
Begin the journey by meticulously chopping a vibrant bell pepper, ushering in a tapestry of colors.
The artistry of balela lies in its diversity – much like the variations of the salad across Middle Eastern regions. This particular rendition takes inspiration from the balela salad beloved in Alexandria, Egypt.
Step 3: A Symphony of Flavors
As you delve further into the creation, you’ll notice that each ingredient contributes to the symphony of flavors.
Green onions elegantly embrace the palate with their distinctive taste, while a finely chopped jalapeno pepper adds a tantalizing hint of heat. Tailor the heat level according to your preference, whether by omitting seeds or opting for a milder pepper.
Step 4: Herbs: The Crown Jewels
Mediterranean cooking celebrates herbs not merely as garnishes but as protagonists in the culinary narrative.
Fresh parsley and mint are key players in this symphony, infusing every bite with their aromatic essence. These herbs are not merely afterthoughts; they are the threads that weave together a tapestry of delight.
Step 5: The Dance of Olives and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
As the choreography continues, Kalamata olives and green olives take center stage, lending their briny and rich flavors to the ensemble.
Sun-dried tomatoes, with their tangy sweetness, join the dance, elevating the taste profile to new heights. The meticulous slicing of these ingredients showcases the commitment to creating an unforgettable experience.
Step 6: Chickpeas: The Unyielding Foundation
Chickpeas, resilient and rich in protein, form the backbone of balela. They are the dependable companions that anchor the dish, providing sustenance and substance to every bite.
This salad is not merely a feast for the senses but a wholesome and satisfying meal in its own right.
Step 7: The Zippy Dressing
No masterpiece is complete without its finishing touch, and for balela, it’s the zippy dressing that elevates the entire creation.
Garlic, lemon, kosher salt, black pepper, Aleppo pepper, and sumac intertwine in a dance of flavors, culminating in a vibrant dressing that encapsulates the very essence of the Mediterranean spirit.
Step 8: The Grand Finale
As the curtain draws near, the grand finale approaches. The dressing, like a maestro’s baton, unites all the elements, enriching and harmonizing the flavors.
A generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil adds a touch of richness and elegance, transforming this culinary creation into liquid gold.
Step 9: The Marrying of Flavors
Balela, like a fine wine, benefits from the passage of time. Allowing the salad to rest for at least half an hour is a gesture of culinary wisdom, as the flavors intermingle and the chickpeas luxuriate in the embrace of the dressing.
This maturation process creates a harmonious amalgamation of tastes that leaves an indelible mark on your taste buds.
Tips and Variations: Exploring the Culinary Horizon
Infuse Mediterranean Charisma
Elevate the dish by experimenting with different Mediterranean herbs. Basil, oregano, or thyme can contribute their unique personalities to the salad, granting it a fresh and novel character.
Introduce a crunch with toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds, enhancing both the texture and the nutty undertones of balela.
For a zesty twist, consider adding citrus segments, such as oranges or grapefruits, to the mix. Their juicy burst of flavor will lend a delightful contrast to the earthy chickpeas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: Can I make balela in advance?
Absolutely! Balela’s charm intensifies with time. Preparing it ahead allows the flavors to meld, resulting in a more pronounced and harmonious taste.
Q2: Is balela suitable for special diets?
Indeed, balela is a versatile creation. Its plant-based nature makes it an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans, while its wholesome ingredients align with a health-conscious lifestyle.
Q3: Can I adjust the heat level?
Absolutely. The jalapeno pepper can be tailored to suit your preference. Removing the seeds or using a milder pepper can dial down the heat without compromising the flavor.
Kitchen Tools/Equipment Needed:
- Chopping board and knife
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring spoons
- Citrus juicer
Discover the harmonious flavors of balela, a Middle Eastern chickpea salad that captivates with its layers of taste and texture.
Cooked chickpeas (2 cans, drained and rinsed)
1 bell pepper (color of your choice), finely chopped
2–3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (seeds removed for milder heat)
Fresh parsley (1/2 cup, chopped)
Fresh mint leaves (1/4 cup, chopped)
Kalamata olives (1/2 cup, pitted and chopped)
Green olives (1/4 cup, pitted and chopped)
Sun-dried tomatoes (1/4 cup, thinly sliced)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1–2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Aleppo pepper (1-1.5 teaspoons)
Sumac (1-1.5 teaspoons)
Extra virgin olive oil (1/4 cup)
- Begin by preparing all the vegetables and herbs – chop the bell pepper, green onions, jalapeno pepper, parsley, mint, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked chickpeas, chopped vegetables, herbs, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes.
- In a separate bowl, create the zippy dressing by whisking together the minced garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, kosher salt, black pepper, Aleppo pepper, and sumac.
- Gradually drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil while whisking continuously to emulsify the dressing.
- Pour the dressing over the chickpea mixture and gently toss to ensure all ingredients are well-coated.
- Allow the balela salad to rest for at least 30 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld and intensify.
- Serve the balela salad as a vibrant side dish, a wholesome main course, or a delightful contribution to any gathering.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Salad
- Method: Tossing
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
- Serving Size: 6 servings
- Calories: 210
- Sugar: 2g
- Sodium: 450mg
- Fat: 11g
- Saturated Fat: 11g
- Unsaturated Fat: 11g
- Carbohydrates: 24g
- Fiber: 6g
- Protein: 6g