Advertisements

Trader Joe’s Balela

Trader Joe's Balela

Not hummus

Trader Joe’s Balela is a mildly spiced, tangy chickpea bean dip with it’s origins in the Middle East and it’s absolutely killer. I know what you’re all thinking – “A middle eastern chickpea bean dip? He means hummus right? Why doesn’t he just say hummus? Is he stupid?”

Please, reserve your harsh judgement, hasty internet commentator, for unlike hummus the chickpeas in balela are whole, not ground. That little fact, of course, makes a world of difference.

Balela is in fact a loose mixture of garbanzo and black beans tossed with tomatoes, lemon juice, onion, garlic, parsley and a hint of mint, all served in a tiny, hummus size tub. This makes it a dip, bean salad or side dish, depending on your need.

I set into my little dish of balela with a collection of tortilla and pita chips, and simply could not stop eating it. It has that same tongue pleasing tingle and pleasant mealiness of hummus, while avoiding the overwhelming richness that hummus brings. While the tastes aren’t exactly analogous, they’re close enough that you can think of balela as “hummus light” – a much less dense take on the classic dish. The absence of tahini and presence of mint and parsley very much help further this difference between the two.

The only real mark against this dish is the small size. Little eight ounce tubs are plenty for hummus, but only holds a handful of whole beans. I ate this thing up in about six bites which, though good, was a bit fast for $3.00. It’s not terrible for an individual, but you’d have to buy about 10 of these tubs to cater to even a small get together.

Normally at this point I like to launch into the history and cultural relevance of the food I’m reviewing, but there is a shocking dearth of information about balela online. Numerous blogs all mention the dish, but only in reference to having seen it at Trader Joe’s, and the lone wikipedia article on balela is for 1950’s Portuguese soccer coach Manuel Balela. This suggests that TJ’s is delving further and deeper into esoteric foreign cuisines than I had previously dreamed, or that they’re just making up their own dishes now. I’m not sure which of these options impresses more.

Nevertheless my curiosity has been piqued. I’ve sent several communiques out to Trader Joe’s seeking answers and will update this post with the answers I uncover. In the meanwhile, if any loyal readers have any insight into the history or origin of balela, please post in the comments.


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: Yes, to anyone who enjoys hummus, chickpeas or dip in general.

Would I Buy It Again: Yes, even if I wish there was packed in per package.

Final Synopsis: A deliciously tangy and savory bean dip/salad/side dish.

Trader Joe's Balela - Nutrition Facts

Trader Joe’s Balela – Nutrition Facts

Advertisements

6 Comments on “Trader Joe’s Balela”

  1. Sounds yummy! Can’t wait to make my own. I am a chick pea addict!

  2. Tom says:

    Hummus literally means ‘chick pea’. People have shortened ‘hummus bi tahini’, the popular dip, to just ‘hummus’, but it would be just as correct to call balela a hummus salad.

    Source: I’m Lebanese

  3. Jill Sampson says:

    One container of this goes great with a 1/2 a bag of sauteed shredded brussels sprouts for those times when you need to stretch the balela into a full meal / shared salad. Just saute the brussels sprouts for about 10 minutes, salt and pepper and dump in the container of Balela in to the saute pan, stir/toss until warm through. Salad is good warm or at room temp. Great for picnics, etc.

  4. Karen Nerak says:

    you can find a HUGE container of balela at Costco – YUM YUM YUM it is AWESOME!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s