A healthy and super tasty midweek meal

Just the words ‘spicy lamb meatballs in a chickpea stew’ should send you into the kitchen 😊

  • SERVES: 4
  • PREP TIME: 15 mins
  • COOK TIME:  20 mins
  • DIFFICULTY: easy

Spicy lamb meatballs in a chickpea stew

I love meatballs!

They are versatile in the way you can serve them – pasta, beans, mash

And you can have pork, chicken, beef, turkey or lamb meatballs.

Then you can decide on decadent meatballs (see IKEA meatball recipe).

Or opt for healthy meatballs (also check out this beef meatballs recipe).

So, I can’t ever say no to whipping up a meatball dish.

But there are a few tricks to keep up your sleeve.

To ensure a juicy, not dry meatball is on the menu.

Spicy lamb meatballs in a chickpea stew

Top tips for making perfect meatballs

Meatballs aren’t difficult to make.

But you can end up with little round, solid, balls of dryness if you’re not careful.

So, here are a few tips so you end up with well-seasoned, juicy and tender meatballs.

1. Choosing the meat

My favourite is pork because it’s fattier which gives flavour… and moisture.

If I used beef, I’d go 50/50 with pork.

Chicken or turkey meatballs are delicious, check out my IKEA meatballs and this decadent chicken meatballs recipe.

But be careful not to overcook them as they’ll dry out.

This recipe is lamb… because who doesn’t love lamb?!

2. Keep your meat chilled

If you keep the meat chilled, this will mean the fat in the meat will melt in the pan.

And not beforehand.

You want to keep the fat from melting and breaking down before you cook the meatballs, so keep your meat and ingredients as cold as possible.

Make the mixture in a chilled bowl, and if you are adding pre-cooked ingredients like onions, let them cool down completely before adding them in.

3. Add moisture

This is a bit of an obvious one but it’s getting the right balance.

And knowing what best to use to add moisture.

Eggs and binders like breadcrumbs mixed with milk all help with keeping meatballs tender and moist, so don’t skip any of these.

4. Taste

Once you’ve made your meatball mixture.

Take a little test patty and quickly fry it to taste.

Then adjust the seasoning, spices, herbs, if need be.

5. Be gentle

Try not to overwork the meat when forming the meatballs.

If you pack them too tightly then they’ll come out tough.

It’s a messy job but you can oil your hands so that the mixture won’t stick.

Then gently form the meatballs.

6. Bake vs. not fry

It’s up to you really.

But if you fry them until cooked through, they could end up a bit tough.

I prefer to brown them in the frying pan (don’t overcrowd them so you may need to do in batches).

And then finish them off in the sauce you make in the same pan.

Of course, the oven is just as good… but personally you won’t get as much flavour into your sauce.

Spicy lamb meatballs in a chickpea stew

It’s the chickpeas (aka chana or garbanzo beans) that I love in this dish.

They’ve been grown and eaten in Middle Eastern countries for thousands of years.

It’s their nutty taste and grainy texture that goes so well with many other foods and ingredients.

And they’re so handy to always have in your cupboard for emergency meals.

But perfect to go into so many dishes to replace a heavy carb.

And to give great nutritional value to your meal.

Tinned/jarred vs. dried (soak) chickpeas

So, I googled whether or not using tinned or jarred chickpeas is less nutritional than dried.

And the simple answer is: no.

The only thing you might want to look at is a small increase in sodium.

Which usually happens during the canning process.

Chickpeas eating regularly offer lots of health benefits, including:

  • plant-based protein,
  • fibre,
  • vitamins,
  • minerals

So, you’re in good hands with chickpeas.

And having them in your store cupboard is a wise move.

Spicy lamb meatballs in a chickpea stew

Course Main Course
Keyword chickpea stew, chickpeas, easy meal, lamb meatballs, meatballs, midweek meal, one pan meal, one pot meal
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people
Cost £


For the meatballs

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • sea salt
  • 2 tbsp ras el hanout (see notes for substitute)
  • 500 g minced lamb

Chickpea stew

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp rose harissa
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 200 ml low-salt stock (lamb or beef)
  • 2 x 400g tinned chickpeas
  • bunch ofparsley or mint, chopped



  • In a large bowl, mix together the meatball ingredients until combined (try not to over mix).
    Roll into 1 inch balls.
  • Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan or low casserole dish, over medium-high, add the meatballs and brown them (they don't need cooking all the way through). Remove to a plate.

Chickpea stew

  • In the same pan, add the onion and fry until softened. Stir through the garlic cumin, coriander and cinnamon, and cook for 1 min.
    Add the harissa, tomatoes and lamb (or beef) stock, and bring to a simmer.
    Stir through the chickpeas and meatballs, season and simmer for 10-15 mins until slightly reduced and the meatballs are cooked through.
  • Stir through half the herbs, then scatter the rest on top to serve.


Ras el Hanout is a simple mix of equal parts ground cumin, ground coriander and smoked paprika.