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Spanish Chickpea Balls

August 25, 2010

Spanish Chickpea Balls

This fantastic little vegetarian tapas recipe is adapted from a simple recipe for traditional Albondigas (Spanish Meatballs). Chickpeas are an excellent substitute in things like meat balls as they retain good texture but combine together well to make perfect little balls, very similar to falafel.

Here minced chickpeas are combined with plenty of aromatic spices, fried till golden and cooked in a rich tomato based sauce; spicy, tasty and oh so very good. Tapas are ideal to serve when entertaining, especially for an informal and casual meal, where everyone can mingle and help themselves to little morsels of delicious food.

Try serving these Spanish Chickpea balls with slices of the Moroccan Pizza, Eggplant Balls and platters of olives or dips for a great Tapas feast. Alternatively serve the Chickpea Balls with Spanish rice for a tasty and filling meal. Easy to prepare and simply delicious these Chickpea Balls are simply awesome :)

Spanish Chickpea Balls

Preparation time: 45mins (+ 30min chill time) // Serves 4 (as a main w/ rice) 4-6 (as a Tapas)

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for the Chickpea Balls

  • 425g (15 oz) chickpeas (cooked or tinned)
  • 3-4 tbs olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 1/3 cup fine wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten (omit if vegan and substitute with extra olive oil)

for the sauce

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, mined
  • 300g (10½ oz) ripe tomatoes, diced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup peas
  • ½ cup fresh parsley &/or coriander, roughly chopped

Mince the chickpeas in a food processor or by hand until soft, make sure to retain texture, do not process or mash them to a pulp, you want to still be able to see small chunks of chickpea.

In a large bowl combine the minced chickpeas with the garlic, lemon zest, bread crumbs, spices and egg if using; use your hands bring the mixture together adding the olive oil a little at a time until the mixture starts to come together to form a mass. Depending on the chickpeas you use the mixture may be a little dry, add a little lemon juice if you desire to get the right consistency.

Once the mixture is moist and combined roll tablespoons of mixture into balls. For best results refrigerate the balls for 30 minutes or so before frying.

Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a good sized heavy based frypan. Over a medium heat cook the balls in two or three batches, tossing in the pan occasionally until golden all over. Set the cooked chickpea balls aside on paper towel.

To make the rich tomato sauce add 1 tbs of olive oil to the same pan; add the onion and cook over a medium to high heat for 2-3 minutes until soft, add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

Add the wine and allow to simmer for about 1 minute before adding the tomatoes, tomato paste and stock. Let the sauce simmer gently for 8-10 minutes.

Add the cayenne and peas, stir to combine, add the chickpea balls and allow to gently simmer for a further 5-10 minutes until sauce has reduced slightly and flavours are rich and spicy. Remove from heat and toss through chopped herbs.

Serve the Spanish Chickpea Balls as a tapas or with Spanish Rice for a main meal.

Spanish Chickpea Balls

This recipe was adapted from Albondigas found in Cooking Spainsh published by Murdoch Books.

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  • Veggie Belly August 25, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    ABSOLUTELY delicious. I had no idea the Spanish have something similar to falafel! Defenitely making this recipe.

  • Trudy (veggie num num) August 25, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Hi Sala! Thanks for dropping in :) The traditional recipe called for meatballs made with pork and veal… so I decided to substitute with chickpeas for a vegetarian version… and it turned out perfect… not sure how traditionally Spanish but delicious all the same!!

  • Vera August 26, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Just found your site through Foodgawker and I love it. The Spanish Chickpea Balls sound delicious. I just made falafel last week and this will be a nice way to change it up. I have been trying to find some great vegetarian dishes and your site is loaded not only w/ recipes but some great tips. Thanks, you are now bookmarked!

  • Trudy (veggie num num) August 26, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Thanks so much Vera :) This is indeed a great recipe to ‘dress-up’ falafel for something a little different!! So glad you found us and I hope you continue to enjoy Veggie num num!!!

  • Jennifer August 26, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Delicious morsels! These look fabulous!

  • delicieux August 26, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Mmmm these look SO good!!! I have my brother and his family visiting from interstate soon and I’ve been thinking about what finger food I want to make and these will be perfect.

    Beautiful photos as always too :)

  • Marly August 27, 2010 at 4:05 am

    What a great recipe. I was just thinking that an international theme for dinner some night this weekend would be good. This looks like something fun and new to try. Thanks!

  • shona August 30, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    I can attest to these being delicious. I dropped in at my parents house this weekend and my mum was making them… soooo good ! X

  • lisaiscooking August 31, 2010 at 3:27 am

    These sound incredible! I love the idea of a meatless meatball (I only eat a little meat here and there), and the sauce sounds delicious too.

  • Heather @ Whisk Flip Stir August 31, 2010 at 4:15 am

    Those sound so good! Putting them on the list! Your whole blog is great – great pictures, interesting recipes and yay vegetarian!

  • Trudy (veggie num num) August 31, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Thanks for the comments and feedback all and a big hello to new visitors, hope you continue to enjoy Veggie num num!! :)

  • Sabrina September 13, 2010 at 7:02 am

    I found your site through foodgawker and I’m so happy I did. This recipe not only sounds delicious it also is! It was our lunch with a big salad instead of the rice. GREAT! I’m a vegeterian for 5 years now and I’m always looking for new recipes I can try out. Thank you so much for your recipes and your fantastic blog….

    Sabrina (from Germany =) )

  • Trudy (veggie num num) September 13, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Hi there Sabrina, I’m happy you found Veggie num num too :) Thanks for the great feedback, they would be wonderful with a nice big salad.. it will be summer here in New Zealand before we know it, so I think I might try the same!! Hope you continue to drop in and check out all our num num recipes!!

  • susan October 6, 2010 at 10:52 am

    is there a substitute for the wine in the recipe you can recommend?

  • Trudy (veggie num num) October 6, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Hi Susan, you could simply add a good squeeze of lemon juice where the recipe calls for the wine or try substituting 1/4 cup of apple cider or white wine vinegar mixed with 1/4 water instead. Hope this is helpful :)

  • Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets January 6, 2011 at 3:58 am

    Hi Trudy! I finally tried this last night and both the boy and I found it really tasty :). And he doesn’t even usually like chickpeas. I do think I’ll cut back on nutmeg and cinnamon a smidge next time, just due to personal taste. Please don’t tell the Spanish I’m messing with their formulas though =p. Happy New Year!

  • Deirdre April 7, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    This turned out so delicious! I baked mine in the oven at 180C for 15 minutes – drizzled some oil over the top once done I then popped them in the sauce and it worked out really well, they held together and were nice and crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.

    For the sauce I didn’t have any white wine / vinegar so I used red wine (Shiraz) for the same amount & no animal content beef stock and the sauce came out very rich and nice.

    I served it with the rice as suggested, used the praprika but again swapped in the beef stock and used corn intead of olives (love corn) and the praprika really shown out nicely.

    Will definitely be making this regularly.

    Thank you so much for the recipe. So nice! Also had enough for two spares and they reheated really well for lunches.

  • Trudy ~ Veggie num num April 8, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Whoot!! Thanks for the great feedback Xiaolu!! Glad to hear you both enjoyed the dish 😀

    Cheers Deirdre for the great feedback on this recipe! Wonderful to know you are enjoying the recipes here on Veggie num num :)

  • Natalie June 10, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Made this for dinner tonight! It was excellent! Flavors were amazing. The coriander and nutmeg complimented each other very well. Thank you for this recipe. I also appreciate that you converted the measurements to cups!

  • Natalie June 10, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I meant thanks for converting the grams to ounces (not cups) :)

  • Kay August 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I made this last week and my boyfriend and I both really enjoyed it! I served it with your Spanish rice. The only change I made was to use just 1 tsp cayenne pepper in the sauce. I love spicy food, but thought that 1 tsp was sufficient.

    Thanks for a delicious recipe! I will definitely make it again and can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

  • Joy September 6, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Amazing and the Spanish rice was the perfect accompaniment. I would definitely make this again, with pleasure. The only minor tweaks I would make would be to reduce the lemon zest by a quarter and then keep the balls and the sauce separate until serving, so the balls retain their shape and crispness. Thanks again Trudy for your delicious recipes!

  • Rikki September 26, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Absolutely delicious. Thank you!

  • Kate October 30, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    This dish was amazing, even better than I imagined it would turn out. I think next time I will use tinned chickpeas; that will make the consistency just right…the cayenne was really fiery, which I enjoyed, and the whole dish was a perfect mesh of flavours.
    Thank you so much for your recipes, Trudy, I have heaps of veggie cookbooks at home, and none of them come close to your variety, interesting ideas and dishes that turn out absolutely perfectly every time. Bravo, I look forward to trying them all. x

  • *b* November 1, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    This dish is super quick and easy to throw together and if you have left over chickpea balls you can save them and cook them the next day and the flavours are beeeeautiful. I didn’t have fresh tomatoes, but canned ones worked fine as a substitute.

    Thanks for another great recipe :)

  • Trudy ~ Veggie num num November 2, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Lots of lovely feedback on this recipe – thank you SO MUCH everyone!! Super happy to hear it turned out well and that you found it tasty and that you’re loving Veggie num num!!! Veggie num num loves you too :) :)

  • Annie December 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I want to make this for dinner one night but won’t have time for the 30 minutes in the fridge. Do you think it would be alright to make the balls the night before or to skip the refrigeration?

    Loving your site by the way!

  • Audra February 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Trudy! I just found you on pinterest. I love your site! My parents have recently adopted a very-much vegan lifestyle, although I still consume meat and dairy at times. I love these chickpea balls, and may make them for a lovely, light and healthy Valentine’s Day dinner this weekend. Thank you!


  • Aubrey May 21, 2012 at 1:00 am

    I made these last night and they were lovely. I assumed that you meant ½ tsp cayenne pepper instead of 2 tsp? Anyways, that’s what I used and it turned out perfect. Yummmm. Instead of rice, I served them with a salad that had marinated olives in it.