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Author Notes: I came across a recipe for Balilah in Yotam Ottlenghi's cookbook Jerusalem, What made me fall in love with this was that it was a Middle Eastern version of a comfort snack food that my dad introduced me to from ONE particular street vendor in Mumbai in 1998. He insisted that I try the snack just for observing the sheer attention to detail that that food vendor lavished on each cone of 'chane ki chaat' (chick pea 'chaat. This was a 'defining' moment for me, an unforgettable lesson to cast aside food snobbery and appreciate street food for what it is. The resulting dish was a bejewelled mix of green chickpeas with bejeweled ruby red pomegranate arils interspersed with the tiniest bits of lavender colored sweet onions with pinpricks of heat from finely, almost minced, green chiles.
While making Balilah for this years thanksgiving supper, the memories came flooding back and the resulting version of my appetizer offering was a blend of similar street foods from 2 great culinary traditions. (with some improvisation thrown in!)
Serves 4-5 servings
dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
cups pomegrante arils
1 preserved lemon