Chickpea-centric Bowlila

Last week, I discovered the new Bowlila kitchen located inside the Colony in West L.A. Chefs Adlah Alsharhan and Badr Fayez are preparing an array of healthy fare and hearty bowls made with chickpeas simmered in a hot and flavorful broth. This plant protein is a healthy base in an array of colorful and inventive dishes.

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The name Bowlila is inspired by “Bailila,” a classic Middle Eastern street food. I ordered an array of innovative cultural dishes that are inspired from different regions around the world, including the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean and Europe for pick up.

Since Bowlila offers a variety of chickpea bowls, I ordered the Japanese bowl and Thai red curry bowl. Both include ethereal tofu croutons that are puffy and crispy on the outside, and warm and soft inside.

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The Japanese bowl is arranged artistically with enhanced chickpeas, roasted seaweed, furikake-toasted sesame seeds, sliced cucumber, pickled ginger, sliced green onion and a colorful rainbow cabbage slaw. It’s topped with a pleasing sesame-miso sauce.

The Thai bowl had a lemon wedge to squeeze on top of an array of chopped mango, sliced cucumber, crispy fried onion, sprigs of cilantro, chopped peanuts, rainbow slaw, sliced green onion, a few shavings of pickled ginger and those delightful tofu croutons. It’s a balance of heat and cool when the lemon is squeezed and mixed with the slightly spicy light red coconut milk curry sauce.

For those looking for a taste of the Caribbean, the Island Jerk Bowlila has spicy citrus jerk sauce, mango, jicama, rainbow slaw, chopped jalapenos, crispy fried onion, cucumber, green onion and pico de gallo.

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I also ordered a Persian pita,  served open-faced with chopped cucumbers and three warm and slightly crispy chickpea fritters. They aren’t like traditional crispy falafel balls. Instead, they’re lighter and look more like small crab cakes. Other ingredients on the pita included house-made slaw, chopped tomatoes, Persian yogurt and a delicious nut-free pesto. You can request all of these ingredients be put into a bowl without the pita for a gluten-free option.

Another gluten-free menu item that’s high in protein is the mango pancakes, chickpea pancakes topped with a freshly made mango sauce.

For an Italian flair, there are crispy chickpea Italian fritters served with the same house-made, nut-free, vegan pesto dipping sauce that I enjoyed spread on my Persian pita.

Bowlila also offers meal kits to build your own bowls and pita sandwiches. The kits range from $20 to $40 and serve two to four people. For a healthy alternative to meat, these chickpea dishes at Bowlila provide a colorful, flavorful, healthy and satisfying meal. Hours are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Bowlila is closed on the weekends. $-$$. Order online 11419 Santa Monica Blvd., (424)346-1438.

Featured in the Beverly Press on July 2, 2020.

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