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Southern Stories: A Taste of Tunisia


Mansour Arem and Karim Arem with their mother, Noura Arem
Story and recipe by Mansour Arem

LABLABI IS THE EPITOME OF A COLD AND LAZY SUNDAY. The comforting smell of boiling chickpeas always takes me back to the earlier days in my Houston, Texas, home, my mother watching her favorite TV show in pajamas and I pretending to do my homework upstairs all while the scents of bubbling chickpea pot permeated the air.

In the Turkish language, the term lablabi actually means “chickpeas,” although the word finds its origins in the Persian language. Lablabi is historically a poor man’s dish believed to have come about during the Ottoman Empire’s occupation of Tunisia around the 16th century or maybe even later. Legend has it, this chickpea-based, porridge-like soup was prepared and served to soldiers and citizens alike during times of war. Today, lablabi is highly sought after in the metropolitan cities of Tunisia, particularly throughout the coldest months of the year. Imagine enjoying a bowl of steaming hot soup on a brisk day—perfect for breakfast, lunch, or even a late dinner. As a twenty-something-year-old medical student, my father was obsessed with lablabi. It was his go-to morning snack after a long night out…

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