This mixed bean salad is a very popular Middle Eastern-style salad known as Balela. It's a delicious vegan and gluten-free salad that's loaded with vegetables, fresh herbs, and other Arabic flavors. This hearty salad can be enjoyed as a complete meal and is perfect to be packed for lunch, picnic, and potlucks.
There are many reasons to love these salads like most of them are vegan, they are loaded with fresh herbs and generally, a light flavorful dressing is used in these salads which makes them taste very refreshing.
Today's recipe Balela is another such Middle Eastern salad that is loved by everyone in my family.
During summer in Dubai, we often enjoy this hearty bean salad as a meal.
What is Balela?
Balela is a Middle Eastern style mixed bean salad, in which different types of beans are combined with a lot of fresh herbs, vegetables, sumac, olive oil, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
You will find it served in almost every Middle Eastern Mezze.
What goes in this mixed bean salad?
To make Middle Eastern style mixed bean salad, you will need the following ingredients:
Ingredient notes and substitute suggestions
- Cooked beans: I have used chickpeas and kidney beans which are most commonly used beans in this salad. It can also be made with a combination of different other beans. If you have only one type of beans, make it with that only. Home-cooked and canned beans both can be used.
- Parsley: Fresh cilantro can also be used instead of parsley.
- Sumac: Sumac is a very popular Middle Eastern spice. It's the dried and powdered form of a tart berry (also known as Sumac), which is found in this region. The ingredient closest to this spice is the Indian spice- powdered anardana (dried pomegranate powder). If you can't find either of these, add more lemon juice.
- Olive oil: Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
How to make it?
Step 1: Chop all the vegetables and herbs. Put them in a large bowl along with the beans.
Step 2: Add minced garlic, sumac, red chili powder, ground black pepper, and salt.
Step 3: Add lemon juice and olive oil.
Step 4: Gently toss until everything gets combined. Check and adjust the seasoning.
Your delicious Middle Eastern style mixed bean salad is ready to be served.
What to serve with bean salad?
This vegan bean salad can be served cold or at room temperature.
You can serve it with some toasted pita bread, roasted vegetables, and hummus on the side.
This two bean salad can also be stuffed in pita bread or lettuce to make wraps.
You can refrigerate this salad for 24 hours. I generally don't recommend storing salads with a lot of raw vegetables or fruits, for a longer period because then the vegetables and fruits start releasing water and don't taste very fresh.
I personally prefer fresh salads that are very crunchy.
If you don't mind that, cover the salad bowl with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Recipe tips and tricks
- For more flavor, add roasted cumin powder and za'atar to this salad.
- If you prefer more spicy food, add chili flakes.
- Homecooked beans taste better in this salad. However, you can use canned beans also. Just make sure to rinse them properly before using, to get rid of the metallic taste.
- If you are cooking beans at home, don't overcook them otherwise they will turn mushy in the salad.
- You can also add pitted olives to it.
Frequently asked questions
Sumac isn't very flavourful, it just adds a tartness to the dish it's added to, something similar to the Indian spice-anaardana.
Yes, Sumac is a berry so it's naturally gluten-free. However, if you are on a gluten-free diet, make sure to read the ingredients list on the package, before using it.
More easy vegetarian and vegan Middle Eastern recipes
Though meat is an important part of Middle Eastern cuisine, there are many great vegetarian and vegan recipes in this cuisine that are delicious. You can check some of them below:
- Red lentil soup (Vegan)
- Falafel (Vegan)
- Hummus (Vegan)
- Muhammara (Vegan)
- Falafel wraps (vegan)
- Arabic sandwich with chickpeas and eggplant (vegan)
- Egyptian Farro Salad (Vegetarian)
- Labneh dip with za'atar(vegetarian)
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Middle Eastern Bean Salad - Balela
- 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1.5 cups red kidney beans
- 1 cucumber preferably Persian cucumber
- 1 medium sized tomato
- 1 medium sized red onion
- 1 bell pepper any color is fine
- ½ cup fresh parsley roughly chopped
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves roughly chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves minced
- 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice adjust to taste
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder adjust to taste
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Finely chop all the vegetables.
- Put the beans, chopped vegetables, herbs, garlic, sumac, red chili powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- Drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice. Toss and enjoy!
- Other beans like black beans, black-eyed beans, and white beans can also be used in this recipe.
- You may also add pitted olives to this salad.
- Instead of regular tomatoes, cherry tomatoes can be used too.
- To add some heat, add chili flakes.
- For more flavor, you can add roasted cumin powder and za'atar.
- Don't overcook the beans otherwise, they will turn mushy.
- If using canned beans, rinse them to get rid of the metallic taste.
- More recipe tips and tricks are given within the post above. Please follow them to make this recipe.