Lablabi & Tuna Egg Brik

Lablabi - Tunisian Chickpea Soup / Stew

Lablabi / Leblebi – Tunisian chickpeas soup or stew and Tuna Egg Brik – fried pastry parcels.

Lablabi - Tunisian Chickpea Soup / Stew

MENA Cooking Club is back! After missing a month, we are back trying recipes from the Middle East and North Africa.

Tunisia is the country we have explored this last month, through dishes chosen by moi.

The dishes I chose: BrikLablabi and Kaber El Louz. All are fairly easy to recreate, affordable and because we usually have a main dish including meat / chicken I thought it would be a nice change for us to try a traditional vegetarian dish.

chickpeas soaked overnight
Tabil – Tunisian spice mix / seasoning, Tunisian chilli powder and Harissa – hot chilli pepper paste

I didn’t realise until later, but Lablabi or Leblebi is very similar to the East Algerian dish Doubara.

Lablabi has a few differences: it includes day-old bread pieces, added at the end which soak up and thickens the soup come stew. It doesn’t always use tomatoes – as is the case with my recipe and is often given toppings such as eggs – boiled, fried or stirred in and therefore coddled, tuna and olives.

Lablabi - Tunisian Chickpea Soup / Stew

I made a fairly basic Lablabi without the extra toppings because they weren’t very appealing to me or my Algerian husband, but I did add bread pieces to my bowl for a more authentic dish.

I changed the spicing a little by using Tabil instead of cumin, along with Harissa. Tabil is a Tunisian spice mix or seasoning containing cumin, coriander, caraway, chilli and sometimes dry garlic too.

We were gifted some Tabil and Tunisian chilli powder a while ago from my husband’s Tunisian friend and I’ve been eager for this last month to arrive, so I could try them in an authentic Tunisian dish.

Lablabi - Tunisian Chickpea Soup / Stew

I made Lablabi a second time, to go with my Tuna Egg Brik. That time though I left out the bread pieces, added the Tunisian chilli powder to the chickpeas (not just for sprinkling as decoration) instead of Harissa, which made it a hotter dish. So it’s up to you which one you go with or why not try a mixture of both? If you can’t get hold of pre-made Harissa, you can try your hand at home-making this recipe and of course if you want to use just chilli powder, any chilli powder will work not just Tunisian.

Tunisian Food, according to Wikipedia is spicier than other North African cuisines. I don’t really know how true that is, but in the Maghreb region of North Africa the condiment Harissa is added to almost every dish according to ones liking, at the table.

Lablabi / Leblebi

I read that Lablabi is a Tunisian breakfast dish however, I prefer it for a light lunch.

Recipe adapted from here where you can also find a recipe for home-made Tabil.

Lablabi / Leblebi

Prep Time: 12 hours

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Serving Size: 2

Tunisian Chickpea Soup / Stew


  • 120 grams dry chickpeas
  • 1 ¼ – 1 ½ litre water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Harissa paste, or chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon Tabil – Tunisian Seasoning, or Cumin
  • Salt, to taste

To Serve:

  • 2 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of ¼ lemon
  • 1-2 slices of day-old bread or toasted bread, torn into small pieces *optional
  • Harissa, to taste *optional
  • Chilli Powder, for sprinkling *optional


Soak Chickpeas Overnight:

  • Wash chickpeas, place in a large bowl, fill with water and add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda. Cover bowl with plater and allow chickpeas to soak overnight at room temperature.

Cook Lablabi:

  • Drain and rinse chickpeas, place in a large saucepan, cover with water, add another pinch of bicarbonate of soda, bring pan upto to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Allow to cook for 1 hour or until tender.
  • Add garlic, Tabil/cumin, Harissa and salt, stir then leave to cook for another 10 minutes. If using bread pieces, add them to each bowl and top with the chickpea soup. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice per bowl and add in any extras such as, harissa and a sprinkling of chilli powder.


For a quicker Lablabi use 1 can of chickpeas in 500ml water and add the garlic and spices at the beginning. Cook for 10-15 minutes.

How to make Tunisian Tuna Egg Brik

For the Tuna Egg Brik I don’t have a recipe as such, more of a guide. I used shop-bought spring roll pastry instead of traditional Brik pastry because I couldn’t buy any.

My husband doesn’t really like Brik or as Algerians call it Borek which is most often shaped like spring rolls . I only ever make it during Ramadan and then I regret that I did because I end up having to eat most of them.

I would have liked to have had a go making this recipe for home-made Brik pastry, but it didn’t seem worth it just for me and my children are picky eaters.

I’m not sure which shape authentic Tunisian Brik are, I’ve seen recipes for triangular, square and semi-circle shaped Brik. I went with square shaped because the shape of my pastry kinda dictated that plus I felt it would be easier than triangular – samosa territory!

Take 1 or more cans of tuna and flavour it with harissa or chilli powder, any other spice you like, some crushed garlic would be good and a little olive oil. Take 1+ eggs and separate them. Take 1 sheet of spring roll or Brik pastry at a time, lay it out flat and:

How To Make Tunisian Brik

Fold it in half, then….

How To Make Tunisian Brik

Fold it in half again….

How To Make Tunisian Brik

Carefully unravel the pastry to show four squares.

Place your spiced-tuna on the lower right square, top with the egg yolk and maybe sprinkle the yolk with a little salt. Brush egg white around the edges and lightly on the three blank squares.

Fold the top half of the pastry over the lower half, gently push out any air as your folding and stick it down. As you can see, I had to go back and push out the air further. You have to work quickly, ideally without snapping photos of the process but needs must and all that…

Lastly, gently fold the left side (without filling) of the pastry over the right (with filling) and press down at the edges to seal. Fry until light golden brown on both sides, turning the pastry only once or twice to get an even colouring.

In the end I didn’t use a whole egg with the tuna filling as per the original recipe because after a few failed attempts, when the egg white dampened the pastry too quickly and it just became a nightmare to fold. Using just the egg yolk as part of the filling made folding the Brik much easier and the egg white comes in handy to stick the pastry together, or you could use a paste of flour and water instead and save the whites for meringue or angel food cake anyone?

I didn’t time how long to fry the Brik or warm my oil to a specific temperature (you’re shaking your head right now, aren’t you?) I kept the flame on medium-high.  You can either warm the oil and test if it’s ready with a little of the un-filled pastry, if it rises to the surface quickly it’s at the right temperature to start frying your Brik and I would hazard a guess that 180C is the ideal temperature. You want to leave it in the oil until it turns a light golden brown, turning the Brik once, twice at the most. If you time and heat it perfectly you can get a runny egg yolk like here, but a set yolk is still yummy.


I’m still working on the Kaber El Louz post, I’ll have it up soon in shaa Allah.

A big thanks (jazaki Allahu khayran) to Noor for giving me the opportunity to host another MENA Cooking Club event.

Check out my fellow MENA Cooking Club members blogs, to see how they got along cooking Tunisian-style.

Lablabi & Tuna Egg Brik
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Lablabi & Tuna Egg Brik

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