This hummus balila recipe makes a dish of creamy warm chickpeas gently spiced with ground cumin, drizzled with a dressing of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, and served with pita bread, pickles, fresh herbs, and salad. Simply known as ‘balila’, the Levantine dish has long been a popular breakfast or snack everywhere from Lebanon and Syria to the Arabian Peninsula countries.
The only breakfasts I love more than Asian breakfasts are Arabic breakfasts. When we first moved to the Middle East many years ago, we looked forward to weekends away in Beirut, Damascus or Cairo and a traditional breakfast spread of labneh, olives, pickles, radishes, fresh salad vegetables, and a comforting bowl of warm soupy beans, such as ful medames or hummus balila.
Our hummus balila recipe will make you that comforting dish we used to look forward to, of warm cumin-spiced chickpeas that have a texture somewhere between a soupy chickpea stew and a creamy hummus dip. Drizzled with a dressing of lemony extra virgin olive oil, balila is eaten with pita bread – which you can break up or slice to scoop up the creamy chickpeas.
Chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans and this hummus balila recipe is one of our best canned beans recipes if you’re looking for budget-friendly meals during these increasingly challenging times. Make a big batch and you can turn it into a balila salad the next day.
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Now let me tell you all about this hummus balila recipe.
Hummus Balila Recipe for Creamy Warm Chickpeas Spiced with Cumin
This easy hummus balila recipe will make you a warm dish or creamy chickpeas that are gently spiced with cumin and drizzled with a dressing of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Served with pita bread, pickles, and salad vegetables such as radish, cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs, hummus balila is a traditional breakfast dish.
Originating in the Levant countries of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Jordan, and popular right across the Arab world, hummus balila was historically sold from curb-side food carts. People would stop on their way to work to buy bowls of steaming chickpeas, tucking into them right there on the street, and returning their empty bowls, virtually clean.
Others would take a big empty lidded pot to the vendor to fill with hummus balila and return home to share it with the family, serving it with all the sides and a stack of piping-hot flatbreads that they picked up from a nearby baker en route. Delicious, sustainable and eco-friendly!
This hummus balila recipe makes a Levantine dish that has long been a popular breakfast or snack everywhere from Lebanon and Syria to the Arabian Peninsula countries. When we lived in the Abu Dhabi and Dubai, it was one of our favourite breakfast dishes, along with ful medames, and we loved nothing more than getting away for a weekend, just so we could order a traditional Arabic breakfast spread.
But hummus balila – or simply ‘balila’ for short – can really be eaten at any time of day, for breakfast, brunch or a snack, or as one of an array of dishes for lunch or dinner. It could also be eaten alone for a light late-night supper. which is how I polished off our leftover balila after working late into the night, mopping it up with warmed pita bread.
Now if you’re not from the Middle East or haven’t lived or travelled in the region, you might only be familiar with the creamy chickpea dip called hummus – or more accurately, hummus bi-tahina, because hummus means chickpeas in Arabic, and tahina is tahini, and it’s actually a chickpea and tahini dip – but there’s a whole big hummus world out there.
Spend some time in the Middle East and after eating out at a few restaurants, you’ll start to notice all sorts of hummus dishes on restaurant menus, typically served as appetisers or starters – everything from the simple hummus bi-zayt (chickpeas with olive oil) to the sublime hummus wa rummaan (chickpeas and pomegranate).
We’ll be sharing more hummus recipes over coming days and weeks, because, like our other best canned beans recipes, hummus dishes are not only incredibly delicious, they’re also easy to cook and are healthy and affordable, and who isn’t looking for budget-friendly meals right now? Just a few tips to making this hummus balila recipe.
Tips to Making this Hummus Balila Recipe for Creamy Warm Chickpeas Spiced with Cumin
I only have a few tips to making this hummus balila recipe as it’s super easy, especially using canned chickpeas, which are affordable, convenient and healthy, so don’t feel guilty about using tinned chickpeas.
While you could absolutely make the dish from scratch using dried chickpeas if you prefer, by soaking the chickpeas overnight to soften them (you can add half a teaspoon of baking soda to soften them faster), dried chickpeas are very expensive where we live, so it simply doesn’t make sense for us.
Hummus balila is typically served with small dishes of pickles, fresh herbs such as mint and parsley, fresh salad vegetables, such as whole radishes, cucumbers and tomatoes, or diced tomatoes, which you can either pop on top of the hummus or eat on the side.
I actually like to make a simple salad of diced tomatoes, cucumbers and purple shallots, fresh herbs such as mint and parsley, which I eat alongside my hummus balila – or combine to create a hummus balila salad, and that’s the next recipe I’ll be sharing.
Hummus Balila Recipe for Creamy Warm Chickpeas
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tins chickpeas
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ lemon , juice only
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- lemon wedges
- In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic cloves until almost at a paste-like consistency.
- In a medium-sized pot over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and fry the garlic for 30 seconds or so until fragrant.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, pour the canned chickpeas and brine into the pot, add the salt and ground cumin and stir to combine, add a little water if needed to ensure the chickpeas are completely covered.
- Cook for 45 minutes or so until the chickpeas have softened, adding water and stirring as needed. At around 30 minutes, use a fork or potato masher to mash around a quarter of the chickpeas; taste, and season with more salt or cumin if you like.
- Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl, combine the juice of half a lemon and extra virgin olive oil, drizzle on top, sprinkle on a little more ground cumin, and serve immediately while still warm.
- Serve at the centre of the table with small bowls and spoons or distribute between bowls, alongside dishes of diced tomatoes and cucumbers and fresh herbs such as mint and parsley to garnish, lemon wedges and extra virgin olive, radishes, olives and pickles, and slices of pita bread to scoop up the balila.
Please do let us know in the Comments below if you make our hummus balila recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.