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I first encountered ‘La Bomba’ in a very local, very authentico Tapas bar in Barcelona, Spain, with my family. We had joined the back of a queue, hung around terribly Britishly for about 40 minutes, goaded by the impressive repute of the place (not in any of the guidebooks, pah, but from the whispers of city locals) and wafts from the kitchen. Inside: chaos. People sitting on each other’s laps, plates flying here there, everywhere and not even a sign of organisation, though undoubtedly it was present somehow. The staff spoke not a word of English, or at least pretended they didn’t, and the small menu was in Spanish. In summary – exactly my sort of place to eat while travelling!

In a bit of a panic and in a gesture of adventure, not usually characteristic of my wider clan, we gestured to the menu and stammered/acted/mimed to the waiter ‘bring us everything’. La Bomba was one of the resulting morsels and oh, how it has haunted my families memories since.  A good sort of haunting – like the Succubus variety.

La Bomba are smooth mashed potato balls, bread crumbed and deep fried, stuffed with something – be it meat, vegetable, offal, cheese etc. They come usually with a sauce. DELICIOUS. Crisp outer shell of buttery yumminess, soft potato inside, flavoured with garlic and onion and melting into a liquid, mushy centre. Mm mm – my sort of dream.

I devised this recipe as a homage to the La Bomba of Barcelona. I like the carrot filling – its spice marries well with potato and I always think cumin works terribly well with carrot anyway. The tomato sauce is rich and adds a bit of sharpness and saucing to the savoury, potato. A note – these are also great with an aioli – try it out if you fancy! Feel free to swap the filling for whatever you like – ground beef with spices, chicken, cheese and bacon, mushy pea.

Top tip – if you have extra carrot filling, blend it up with some double cream/milk/stock, strain and serve as a second sauce!!



Ingredients (Serves 4):

For the potato base:
6 large floury potatos – baking ones will do, peeled and cut into chunks
1.5 white onion,  diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
3 tablespoons mayonaise
100g flour
breadcrumbs – about 4 cups
salt and pepper

For the filling:
3 large carrots, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 white onion, diced
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon hot red chilli powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 knob butter
salt and pepper
vegetable oil

For the sauce:
1 250ml can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 handful fresh basil, chopped


1. Boil the potatoes in a saucepan of hot, slightly salted water, until cooked through and soft. Remove from the water, leave to dry for a few minutes and mash until very smooth. Use a potato ricer, if you have one, to get rid of all lumps/pass through a sieve. Leave to cool.
2. For the carrot filling: saute the onions until soft in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for a further 2 minutes. Add a dash more oil, let heat and add the spices. Saute until the cumin has browned slightly. Throw in the carrot, tomato paste, butter and a splash of water and saute until the carrot is soft and almost a bit mushy, 10 minutes. Season to taste, add more spice if needed and set to one side to cool. 
3. For the sauce: Saute over medium heat your onions until soft. Add the garlic and saute for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and blend until smooth. Pass through a sieve, return to the heat and add the basil. Stir, remove from the heat, season and save until later. This is now ready to eat and just has to be reheated later.
4. For the potato: Saute the onions until soft over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for a further 2 minutes. Stir this into the potato mix until evenly distributed. Add the flour, 1 cup of bread crumbs, egg and mayonaise. Season to taste and stir to combine. The mix should be fairly firm – if not, add more flour and breadcrumbs.
5. Heat a saucepan of vegetable oil – it should be able 2 inches deep –  until hot. To test drop a piece of potato in – when it sizzles and rises to the top it is ready.
Place a large tablespoon of the potato mix in the palm of your hand. Add a teaspoon of the carrot mix to the middle and place another tablespoon of the potato mix on top. Form the potato into a ball around the carrot and seal edges by pincing. Don’t make your balls too big or they will not hold their shape.
6. Roll the balls in breadcrumbs until evenly coated. Drop carefully into the vegetable oils and fry, turning over half way through, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and crisp – about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and blot the oil off. Season with salt.
7. Serve drizzled with the tomato sauce! Enjoy!
Fry onions and garlic
Add spices for the carrot mix
cooking carrot
sauce – cook with onions and tomato
potato mix
form balls
crispy and golden
sauce me up boys