I made a promise that I would reward myself with a complete break from posting after my daily marathon of A Dish a Day in 2012 and believed that it was wonderful not having to constantly think about a new dish to post on January 1st 2013. Or so I thought. As much as I relished the welcome break of not touching my camera for seven days, The withdrawal symptoms drove me batty. It was hard stopping myself from going nuts at the grocery store and restraining my arms from picking each & everything that was remotely interesting. I made a compromise with myself that this year, I would resolutely focus on dishes that were healthy, delicious and came with the nutritive values attached.
I've been hooked on to fresh green garbanzos for a while now and never miss an opportunity to pick up some whenever I spot them. The texture is poles apart compared to the dried version (even the green dried ones). These are closer to edamame (fresh green soy beans) in terms of their silky creamy mouth feel with the slightest of peach fuzz texture. & no trace of that starchy mealy texture that cooked dried garbanzos have. And the best part, Its pretty low in calories , just about 250 calories per cup that fills you up completely.
I came across a recipe for Balilah in Yotam Ottolenghi'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 the '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 bejeweled mix of green chickpeas and ruby red pomegranate arils, interspersed with the tiniest bits of sweet onion and pinpricks of heat from finely, almost-minced green chiles. As I made this for today's lunch, the memories came flooding back and the resulting version of my appetizer was a blend of similar street foods from two great culinary traditions. (With some improvisation thrown in!).
I opted to used mashed up preserved lemons but regular lemon juice with some lemon zest works just as well.
Balilah with fresh green garbanzo & pomegranate:
(4 servings as a salad or 2 as a complete meal)
2 cups fresh green garbanzos
1 cup pomegranate arils (~ 1/2 a pomegranate fruit)
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots or red onions
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 preserved lemon, (or juice of 1/2 a lemon and 1 teaspoon lemon zest)
cracked pepper to taste
1 teaspoon finely powdered cumin seeds
Salt to taste
Steam the green garbanzos for about 10 minutes. rinse completely in cold water to stop cooking and drain. Combine with the pomegranate arils and the shallots. Deseed the preserved lemon and mince the pulp and peel finely Add t the garbanzos along with the cumin powder, peppercorn and the parsley. Taste and adjust for seasoning, the preserved lemon is quite salty so you may wnat to be careful with adding any extra salt . If using the lemon juice, add salt to taste along with the citrus.
2 cups green garbanzo : 480 Cal (12 WW points)
1 cup pomegranate : 60 Cal (2 WW points)
1/4 cup shallots : 30 Cals (1 WW points)
Total calories / serving: ~ 150 Cal ( ~ 4 WW points per generous serving)
The other ingredients, being primarily flavorants of the non calorific kinds, I've omitted the nutritional values,
If you're interested in picking up a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi's book Jerusalem, here is the link from Amazon.