In German there are many names for meatballs – Frikadellen, Fleischpflanzerl, faschierte Laibchen and my grandparents called them Kabernatln, which is probably an abbreviation from the Czech Karbanátky. However named, I think my mother makes the best. As I had some boiled sweet potatoes and black chickpeas in my fridge, I turned my mother’s recipe into a vegetarian version. Not because I am vegetarian, but I thought it might taste nice. And it did. They of course have a different texture than the original, but nevertheless taste very Bavarian with mustard, marjoram and paprika. All flavours I grew up with and love till today.
The black chickpea I used is quite nutty and has more chew than its white cousin. I guess they are available at Asian stores or health food shops, but of course you could also use the standard chickpea. This is not the recipe to be too precise. But whatever bean you use, please cook them yourself. The canned ones are gross and just produce unnecessary garbage for a handful of chickpeas and a little saved time.
It’s easy to cook chickpeas and all kinds of pulses yourself. Just soak the chickpeas overnight, change the water and cook till they are soft. The cooking time can vary a bit, depending on how old they are already. If you really want to speed things up, you could get a simple pressure cooker, which cooks them in around 10 minutes. Once cooked, they keep well in the fridge for a couple of days. Just keep them in their cooking water, so they don’t dry out. Some people also freeze them, but I have never tried that.
Vegetarian Sweetpotato & Black Chickpea Frikadellen
- 1 big sweet potato
- 150 gram black chickpeas (you could make a bigger batch and use the rest later for something else)
- 1 onion
- 1 handful parsley
- 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs (plus more for covering)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon marjoram
- 1-2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Ghee (or oil), for frying
Soak the chickpeas overnight or at least 6 hours. Change the water and boil till soft around 30 - 40 minutes (it depends on how fresh they are). I cook them in an Indian pressure cooker for around 10 whistles. Cut the sweetpotato in half and boil for around 15 minutes, till soft.
Finely chop the parsley and mince the onion.
Peel the cooked sweet potato and roughly mash with a fork. Add the drained chickpeas and all other ingredients and mix. Take the mixture on a chopping board and chop it with a big knife to cut down the chickpeas a bit. Taste the mix and adjust the salt and other spices.
Take a small handfull of the mix and form patties of around 5 cm diameter. Toss the patties in breadcrumbs. Heat a good amount of ghee in a pan (I use 2 pans, to fry everything in one go) over medium heat and slowly fry the patties from both sides. Be careful while turning them around as they tend to break easily.
They are nice warm or cold. You can eat them with some salad on the side, in a bun or just as they are with some ketchup or good mustard.