Tapas originated in Andalucia Spain and are now served as a casual meal in bars across Spain. Tapa is the Spanish word for Lid, in the past glasses of sherry bought in bars would come covered by a slice of bread topped with ham, cheese or fried black pudding to keep out the flies. Enterprising  bar owners quickly discovered that the salty ham spurred beverage sales and the delicious tradition of tapas was born.

Today, tapas are an integral part of  Spanish lifestyle, served in bars and cafes throughout the country. They are a variety of little, often free, snacks like olives, almonds and cubes of sheep’s milk cheese generally consumed while standing up in neighborhood bars with a glass of beer, wine, or sherry. Visiting a tapas bar is both a social opportunity and a way to relieve hunger between meals. The concept has evolved to include little dishes of hot, cold and marinated foods, perfect in Spanish culture for appetizers or a diverse dinner buffet full of flavor and variety.

Albondigas – Meatballs In Garlic Tomato Sauce

These delicious little meatballs are perfect for a tapas party, or as a pre drink snack, and fairly easy to make. They are especially good the next day so make it in advance. This is a Wickedfood Cooking School interpretation, from one of our Spanish Cooking classes.

1 large onion
, finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
olive oil
1kg minced beef (not lean)
minced pork (not lean)
2/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
2 1/2t salt
1/4t freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped


4 large garlic cloves, minced
1T olive oil
1 can chopped tomatoes
3/4t dried oregano, crumbled
salt and sugar to taste
  • Heat a little oil in a large, heavy,  frying pan and cook onion and bell pepper over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Cool mixture.
  • In a large bowl combine the cooled onion mixture, minced meats, bread crumbs, salt, nutmeg, and parsley. Form level tablespoons of mixture into small balls (about 90).
  • Heat a little oil in a large, heavy,  frying pan and brown meatballs in batches (about 16 at a time), shaking frequently so that meatballs maintain their shape. Transfer meatballs with a slotted spoon as browned to a plate.


  • Heat a little oil in a  frying pan and fry the garlic, stirring, until fragrant, taking care not to burn.
  • Add tomato and oregano and simmer. season with sugar and salt.
  • Add meatballs and simmer, covered, gently stirring occasionally, 25 minutes, or until meatballs are tender and sauce is thickened slightly.
  • Transfer meatballs with slotted spoon to heated serving dish. If sauce seems thin, boil gently, stirring frequently, until thickened to desired consistency. Spoon over meatballs. Reheat meatballs before serving, if making in advance.

For more Tapas recipes see The Book of Tapas

Wickedfood Cooking School runs cooking classes throughout the year at its purpose-built Johannesburg cooking studio. Cookery classes are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). The venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – teambuilding cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference.

Our cooking lessons are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and team building cooking classes these events are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients.