Lablebi (or Lablabi)

Lablebi (or Lablabi)
Lablebi is probably one of the most iconic street food dishes you can find in Tunisia. It is a cheap and nutritious quick fix, something to kill the appetite throughout the Tunisian’s working day. It is also eaten at different times of the day depending on the circumstance; breakfast to start the working day, lunch to push through the working day, and even late at night after a long night out with friends. The dish likely came about some time during or after the 16th century when the Ottoman empire took control of the modern day Tunisian region. In fact, the term ‘lablebi’ is a Turkish word that means ‘a snack made with chickpeas’ which is quite accurate when you think about the nutritious purpose the dish served and the circumstances it was and is consumed in to this day.
This brothy chickpea soup comes in a plethora of variations, as do most dishes in Tunisia, but as usual we are sharing our mother’s version. Other ingredients such as anchovies, olives, capers, etc…; may be included as well. Please also keep in mind that lablebi is a very personal dish to enjoy so the amounts of the added ingredients are really up to the individual’s personal taste which is why once again we have not included specific amounts. As our mother always says…. ‘ainek mizenik’ (‘your eyes are your scale’). Here's what you'll need:

Ingredients:

1 lb dried chickpeas (purchase and soak the day before)

Olive oil canned tuna

True-to-origins harissa paste (mild or spicy)

Lemon Juice

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt

Black Pepper

Cumin

Stale bread (purchase fresh bread the day before)

 

Step 1. Transfer dried chickpeas to a large bowl and fill with water. Don’t underestimate how much water these guys absorb….adding more water than necessary is not a bad idea as you don't want them to run dry. Cover with a towel and set aside.

lablabi step 1

Step 2. After about 24 hours, check on the chickpeas. They should be fully soaked and there should be a thin layer of foam at the top. Rinse and transfer the chickpeas to another container. Keep the chickpeas that you want to use for the lablebi and freeze the rest in a ziplock bag.

lablabi step 2

Step 3. Take a piece of stale bread and rip it into small pieces. These should go in a bowl that you will use for serving one portion of the lablebi. If you don’t have stale bread, you can do the same with fresh bread an hour in advance so that the small pieces will stale quicker due to the increased surface area.

lablabi step 3

Step 4. Transfer the soaked chickpeas into a pot, fill with water and 1 tbsp of salt and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling, cover the pot with a lid and bring the heat down to low. Slow cook the chickpeas for 1h30 minutes to 2 hours.

lablabi step 4

Step 5. After 1h30 minutes to 2 hours, the chickpeas should be soft and melt in your mouth. If they are still a bit firm, allow more cooking time. Check every 30 minutes. Keep in mind that the cooking time will vary depending on where your chickpeas are from, their size, etc. Keep your pot with the slow simmering chickpeas to the side on standby. 

Note: If you prefer to skip the chickpea soaking and cooking process, you can use canned pre-cooked chickpeas instead and skip steps 1, 2, and 4 and jump to step 6.

lablabi step 5

Step 6. In a separate pot, boil an egg (or however many eggs you and your friends want - 1 to 2 eggs per portion is ideal in our opinion) for about 7 minutes until it is well cooked and the yolk is slightly runny on the inside. As soon as the boil time is complete, transfer the egg to a small container with icy water so that it cools down rapidly and the peeling process becomes easy.

lablabi step 6

Step 7. Pour a desired amount of chickpea and broth from the pot you cooked the chickpeas into the bowl with the stale bread pieces.

lablabi step 7

Step 8. To the same bowl, add 1 to 2 egg(s), olive oil preserved tuna, and a desired amount of true-to-origins harissa paste (mild or spicy).

lablabi step 8

Step 9. Add a desired amount of cumin, lemon juice, black pepper, salt, and extra virgin olive oil.

lablabi step 9

Step 10. Mix altogether 

lablabi step 10

Step 11. Immediately enjoy while it is still hot and fresh!

lablebi