Halabessa, also known as ‘Hummus El Shaam’, is a popular Egyptian street food traditionally sold in Cairo’s busiest streets during winter. I remember I used to drive about 30 mins to get to this guy who used to sit on the corner of one of Cairo’s busiest streets, just to eat some of his delicious Halabessa. It was the best in town. This and the famous chargrilled sweet potatoes also sold in small carts along the Nile river, were my favourite street food in winter.
It’s the perfect weather now in Sydney for such a heart warming soup. It’s freezing cold outside today and it looks like it will stay like that, if not worse, for the rest of the week! I am probably feeling it a bit more than others because of fasting, trust me hunger doesn’t really help with staying warm. The only thing that got me out of bed today was craving this warm soup, and so I headed to the kitchen and started looking for these chickpeas I had soaked the night before for making a hummus dip, and decided to use them in this recipe instead.
The original recipe is so so easy, all you need is some dried chickpeas, onions, garlic, spices and tomato paste or diced tomatoes. If you are starting with dried chickpeas, you will have to soak them over night first, then cook them for 30 mins before adding them to the spiced tomato broth. ( *Note: you can use good quality pre-cooked chickpeas in tins if you can’t wait for the chickpeas to soak in water for at least 6 hours).
In my recipe here, I have added a few more ingredients to give this broth a good punch of flavour and heat by adding a piece of ginger, a pinch of smoked paprika, chilli flakes, bay leaves and a good drizzle of raw organic honey.
These additions did not only take this soup to the next level in terms of flavours, but they also made it a much healthier soup because of the addition of ginger and honey. Ginger is my best friend especially in winter, it works as an anti-inflammatory, helps with digestive issues and pain reduction, lifts the immune system and increases metabolism which usually slows down a little during fasting in Ramadan. Honey is another amazing addition as it provides the body with natural antibiotics and heaps of nutrients.
- 350g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight. (for at least 8 hrs, ideally 12 hours)
- 2 litres cold filtered water
- 1 brown onion cut in quarters
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
- 2-3 round slices of fresh ginger (size of a 1 dollar coin)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, extra for serving
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1-2 dried bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, extra to taste
- 1 tablespoon raw organic honey
- fresh lemon juice (1-2 tablespoons in each full cup) + extra lemon wedges for serving
- Soak chickpeas over night (6-8 hours)
- In one pot add 2 litres of cold filtered water
- add onions, garlic,ginger, spices, salt, bay leaves and tomato paste and bring to boil.
- In another pot add the overnight soaked chickpeas after draining them, cover with water and bring to boil.
- once the liquid in both pots starts boiling, lower the heat and simmer.
- let the tomato broth simmer for 20 mins, then turn the heat off and cover with a lid.
- let the chickpeas simmer for 30 mins to make sure they are fully cooked, skimming any foam forming at the surface (they should be tender from the inside when squeezed but still holding their shape)
- drain chickpeas, reserving half a cup of the cooking liquid to add to your tomato broth later.
- discard as much chickpeas skin as you can while draining them (this helps to ease digestion for those who are sensitive to legumes skins)
- with a slotted spoon remove cooked onions, garlic, ginger and dried bayleaves from broth and discard.
- add the reserved cooking liquid and the cooked chickpeas to the tomato broth in the pot.
- let the chickpeas sit in the warm broth for at least 15 mins to soak in the flavours.
- warm up just before serving, add honey and stir.
- pour in large clear glass cups, filling half the cup with chickpeas and topping up with the broth.
- add fresh lemon juice in each individual cup. and serve with extra lemon, chilli and salt.
- IF YOU NEED TO SAVE SOME TIME, YOU CAN USE A GOOD QUALITY PRE-COOKED CHICKPEAS IN TINS, AND SKIP THE SOAKING AND COOKING PART. IN THIS CASE YOU WOULD NEED 2*400g TINS FOR THIS RECIPE. (*chickpeas get heavier after cooking)
- ** I still recommend you start with dried chickpeas, they taste better.