What Is Leblebi?

Marjorie McAtee

Leblebi is a traditional Turkish snack food generally made from roasted chickpeas. Preparing leblebi can take some time, often as long as several weeks because the beans must be repeatedly roasted and left to dry. There are two primary kinds of leblebi — one in which the chickpeas retain their hulls, and one in which they are de-hulled during processing. This nutritious snack can be served as either a sweet or savory dish.

Chickpeas, which are used to make leblebi.
Chickpeas, which are used to make leblebi.

The chickpeas must usually be carefully sorted before processing, in order to remove damaged and under-sized chickpeas from the lot. The chickpeas are generally roasted in a wood-fired adobe oven, preferably using wood that produces little smoke. They are typically subjected to an initial roasting, then left in sacks for up to 48 hours, after which the chickpeas are then roasted again and left out for at least 15 but no more than 20 days. The chickpeas are then generally re-moistened, allowed to rest in sacks for 24 hours, roasted a third time, allowed to sit for two more days, and then roasted a final time before they can be eaten.

Leblebi is often seasoned with ground coriander.
Leblebi is often seasoned with ground coriander.

The traditional Turkish snack known as leblebi is said to take its name from the ancient Persian language. This snack is considered to have a long history. Records suggest that it was already popular in Turkey at the time of the Ottoman Empire. Modern scholars, however, understand very little about the history and development of this traditional snack.

It's considered a very nutritious snack, due to the vitamins and minerals found in chickpeas. A serving of roasted chickpeas typically contains about 350 calories, of which about 45 are from fats. Leblebi contains about 5 grams of fat, but only about 0.7 of those grams are from saturated fats.

Unseasoned leblebi typically contains no sodium, cholesterol, or sugar. The snack, however, offers nearly 20 grams of protein per serving. It's also considered a good source of dietary fiber, with 7.7 grams per serving.

Leblebi is usually seasoned with pepper, salt, garlic powder, tumeric, olive oil, or coriander. The chickpeas can also be sugared after the final roasting, making them into a type of candy enjoyed by children. Leblebi is generally favored by the young, but is often enjoyed by people of all ages. Hostesses may serve these roasted chickpeas alongside the traditional Turkish drink known as boza, which is usually made from fermented wheat. It is often eaten mixed with various sorts of nuts, but can be enjoyed alone.

Tumeric is often used to season leblebi.
Tumeric is often used to season leblebi.

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