Spicy Meatballs With Chickpeas

Spicy Meatballs With Chickpeas

Meatballs are the ultimate comfort food, and these are especially nice, perfumed with cumin, coriander and cinnamon. (Feel free to use ground beef, pork or turkey if ground lamb isn’t available.) They may be prepared several hours or up to 2 days in advance — they reheat beautifully. Make the tomato gravy as piquant as you like, adding a good pinch of cayenne if you wish. The optional saffron adds a floral note. If you have the time, cook your chickpeas from scratch (it’s best to soak them for at least a few hours or overnight). They’ll cook in less than an hour. One pound dried chickpeas will yield about 6 cups cooked.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine ground lamb, raw rice, salt, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, onion and garlic. Knead mixture well.
  2. Step 2

    Coat a sheet pan or roasting pan lightly with olive oil. With wet hands, form mixture into 1-ounce meatballs and arrange in one layer on pan. Bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove and let cool slightly.
  3. Step 3

    Meanwhile, make the gravy: Place a wide heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When oil is hot, add onion, sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, stirring until softened and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
  4. Step 4

    Add saffron with soaking water, cumin, red-pepper flakes and cinnamon stick. Crush tomatoes with your hands, and add to pot, along with all tomato juices. Raise heat to medium-high, add broth and bring to a simmer. Taste and add more salt or red-pepper flakes as needed. Carefully add meatballs and adjust heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Step 5

    Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add chickpeas and a splash of water and heat through. Season to taste with salt. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or cilantro. Serve each diner 5 or 6 meatballs and plenty of gravy. Add a large spoonful of chickpeas on the side.