Let me present you Balela deliciousness!! So colorful, so easy, so refreshing… This hearty colorful salad comes from many Middle Eastern countries and is bursting with flavors and textures. Chickpeas, black beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, parsley, mint… what’s not to like!!
This one is perfect for your next potluck, party or get together. Utterly easy to whip up and a sure eye catcher. Make it for a crowd or make it for your next pita night along with some shawarma meat and tzatziki. You are all set for some serious yum flavors.
If you shop at Trader Joes, you might have come across Balela in their refrigerated section by the prepared foods. This bean salad is one of TJ’s popular salads, loved by many. If you are looking for a healthy, light bean salad loaded with veggies that looks like eye candy, this one is for you.
What is Balela salad?
Balela (bah-lay-la) is refreshing chickpea and bean salad you will find in many Middle Eastern countries, as well as some lining the Mediterranean. Balela is the Arabic word for cooked chickpeas. I knew about Balela, known as salata Balela, from my touring days in Egypt I still have some memories of scooping it with Aish (Egyptian pita like bread) along with some tahini.
Though there could be little tweaks to the recipe from region to region, the basic mix is pretty much same. Most of the balela bowls have chickpeas and black beans tossed together with diced tomatoes, cucumber, onion and bell peppers along with loads of mint and parsley and a zesty lemony dressing.
Most of the time dressing is spiked with sumac, which is one of the popular exotic Middle Eastern spicse. Sumac comes from dried and coarsely ground berries and has a sour, citrusy flavor. The burgundy colored berries are widely used throughout Middle Eastern cuisine.
Adding sumac will definitely add the zesty flavor, but please don’t let it stop you from making this if you don’t have sumac handy. It’s good without too, as there are so many flavors going in there already!
This is what you want in your Balela Bowl
- Chickpeas – We really love Goya brand for chickpeas, they are well cooked and tender.
- Black beans
- Cucumber – We used English cucumber.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Bell peppers – You can use any colored bell peppers. The more the colors, prettier it will look.
- Onion – We liked red onion in this salad.
- Olives – We used both regular black and Kalamata olives.
- Herbs – Parsley and mint.
- For Dressing – Extra virgin olive oil + lemon juice + sumac + garlic + salt + pepper + red chili flakes.
How to make Balela Salad
All you are doing is some chopping and tossing for balela.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and black beans. Dice the veggies about same size.
In a large mixing bowl, combine chickpeas, black beans, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives along with chopped parsley and mint.
In a jar or cup, mix in all the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad. Mix gently so everything gets coated nicely with zesty dressing. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Wrap it with plastic wrap and leave it aside for 30 minutes before serving.
How to store Balela Salad?
This makes up for a large bowl to feed the crowd, making it perfect for potlucks, get togethers and company. If making it just for you, it will take care of you for light easy lunches as leftovers. It’s great in refrigerator up to 4-5 days, wrapped with plastic wrap or in a covered container. Since you serve this salad cold or at room temperature, there is no need to reheat before serving again.
How to serve Balela Salad?
Serve balela chilled or at room temperature. You can serve it as it is, or sprinkle some yummy feta on top for extra protein and flavor.
- Serve it as an appetizer or salad along with warm pita breads to scoop it.
- Could be a great side dish for many of your Mediterranean inspired meals.
- Its a great light vegetarian meal option. Balela is a great filler for pita bread pockets slathered with hummus or tahini.
- It can be part of a mezze platter along with hummus, moutabal and tzatziki along with olives, veggies, falafal and pitas.
- You can fill the pita pockets with shawarma meat and balela with good sprinkling of feta and tzatziki. Yum… Look at our pita pockets. They were absolutely delicious and super filling.
Everybody knows two bean or three bean salad. Balela is not that different than these salads you are familiar with. By adding juts a few more exotic flavorings like herbs and spices, you invite all these foreign delicious flavors into your life.
GypsyPlate loves introducing you to all of these amazing flavors from the four corners of the world. Be with us as we promise there is more coming your way. Lots and lots more… 🙂
Balela Salad, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2 15oz cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 orange or yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 8oz cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 English cucumber, diced
- 1/2 cup black olives. halved
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, halved
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup mint, chopped (optional)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp sumac (optional)
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, mix together all salad ingredients like garbanzo, black beans, peppers, tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, olives along with herbs.
- In a mason jar or cup, mix together the dressing ingredients.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix everything gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Leave it in refrigerator or counter 30 minutes before serving.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 394Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 0mgSodium 832mgCarbohydrates 58gFiber 15gSugar 13gProtein 15g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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