Indian Curry Balls—Joy’s Chicken Version and My Vegan Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Version

This recipe is linked to Go Ahead HoneyWellness Weekends, and Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

One of my support group members, Joy, brought an appetizer—Indian Curry Balls—to our holiday meeting. These little bites were attractive, very tasty, and very well received! When I was trying to come up with an entry for Maggie’s (She Let The Eat Cake) theme of Foods That Heal for this month’s Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free! event, I thought of Joy’s recipe. The ingredients (which I’m listing in order of weight, as is done on manufacturers’ labels) were chicken, almonds, coconut, cream cheese, chutney, mayonnaise, curry powder, and salt. While not all of those ingredients stand out as healing foods, some of them certainly do. I thought I’d share Joy’s recipe today with my slight adaptation and then a second version I made using chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and a few other adaptations I used to make these Indian Curry Balls both dairy free and vegan. I took these Indian Curry Balls to work to share with my co-workers and then shared some with Mr. GFE for an appetizer later that evening; both versions got two thumbs up from all! I’d happily serve either or both for any holiday event or celebration of any type (maybe even Friday night qualifies, huh?). In fact, I’ve already added these Indian Curry Balls to my menu for our biennial Valentines Day’s party, to be held next in 2013!

Before we get to the recipes themselves, let’s explore their Foods that Heal components. We’ll talk about the healing ingredients in both versions of this recipe. In the first version, Chicken is the star. It’s long been lauded for its healing powers in chicken soup; actual research shows the claims are true. “Researchers also suspect that part of the healing power of chicken soup lies in the bird itself. Chicken contains a natural amino acid called cysteine, which is chemically very similar to a drug called acetylcysteine. Doctors use acetylcysteine to treat people with bronchitis and other respiratory infections.” Chicken also contains vitamins and nutrients such as niacin, selenium, and B that offer protection from cancer, Alzheimer, and cognitive decline, and ensure cardiovascular health.

Almonds … so many of us love them! They’re a high-fat food—monosaturated fats—that are really good for your health. Read all about the benefits of almonds here.

Curry Powder is comprised of many healing spices. Curry powder contains turmeric, which in turn contains curcumin. It’s the curcumin that offers the most benefits. It’s a super nutrient and natural polyphenol, which you can read all about here. (Note that there are curcumin supplements, but the optimum benefits come from ingesting curcumin through food.)  But the most important thing to know is that adding a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder to your favorite food “provides a layer of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. All the various components of curry also provide antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, which are key nutrients in supporting the immune system.” So the two versions of this recipe have you covered! A little side note … for a long time, I was resistant to Indian food. It was Diane’s hosting event for Go Ahead Honey a while back with the theme Scared Silly that had me come of my hiding place and try curry.  I made a dish that I called Bombay Potatoes Meet Chickpeas Tomato Curry. Boy, how silly I was … now I’m a curry fan! Did you know that you can use curry in sweet goods, too? Check out these Peanut Butter Cookies Scented with Curry over at Monica’s (A Life of Spice) blog! (Note that this cookie recipe is not gluten free, but could easily be adapted.)

Raw Coconut Flakes are made from coconut meat and contain a large amount of saturated fat, but these fats are medium chain fatty acids. Medium chain fatty acids are broken down much faster than long chain fatty acids, so they do not contribute to high cholesterol, as long chain fatty acids do. In fact, according to “The Philippine Journal of Cardiology,” the fat in coconut may possibly help to lower bad cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol levels. 

In the second version, my beloved Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) “rule.” Chickpeas provide an excellent source of molybdenum, a trace mineral that is needed to detoxify sulfites. “Sulfite-sensitive folks who are deficient in molybdenum may experience symptoms such as headaches, a racing heartbeat, or confusion.” Molybdenum also has a role in dental health. Chickpeas are a very good source of folic acid, fiber, manganese, protein, iron, copper, zinc, and magnesium. Because of the fiber they provide, chickpeas can also help lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar levels.

Joy’s Indian Chicken Curry Balls (slightly adapted)
(Click here for a printable copy of both versions of this recipe.)

4 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
1 ½ tsp jam (your choice of flavors) and 1 ½ tsp gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (or 1 tbsp chopped chutney, or amounts to taste)
2 tbsp mayonnaise (soy-free Vegenaise works well for a soy-free option)
½ tsp salt
1 cup chicken (or turkey), cooked and chopped
1 tsp curry powder (or more, to taste)
1 cup slivered almonds
½ cup grated coconut/coconut flakes (see notes)

Add softened cream cheese and mayonnaise to a large bowl.

Beat together using a wooden spoon.

Add chicken. Add slivered almonds (crumbling some with the wooden spoon as you stir). Add jam and Worcestershire (or chutney), salt, and curry powder.

Shape into walnut-size balls.

Roll balls in coconut. Chill.

Makes about 36 balls.

My Indian Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Curry Balls
(Click here for a printable copy of both versions of this recipe.)

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (I used soy-free Vegenaise)
1 ½ tsp jam (your choice of flavors) AND 1 ½ tsp gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (or 1 tbsp chopped chutney; or additional amounts to taste of either)
2 tbsp coconut cream (cream skimmed off top of canned coconut milk after sitting in fridge for 24 hours)
½ tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder (or more to taste; I used more for this version)
1 cup chickpeas (e.g., canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained), hand mashed pretty well or run through food processor some
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup blanched almond flour (more or less as needed)
½ cup grated coconut/coconut flakes (see notes for additional info)

In a large bowl, stir together mayonnaise, jam, Worcestershire sauce, coconut cream, salt, and curry powder.

Add chickpeas.

Add slivered almonds (crumbling some with the wooden spoon as you stir).

Add blanched almond flour. Start with half a cup; add more as needed.

Mix well. Remove some of the mixture for tasting. Add additional jam and Worcestershire sauce (or chutney), and/or curry powder to taste if needed.

Shape into walnut-size balls.  Roll in coconut. Chill. Makes about 36 balls.

Shirley’s Notes: Use whatever jam, jelly, preserves you have on hand. I had two tiny gift jars of jam. (You know … the ones that only contain about 1 to 1 ½ ounces.) I used the Red Raspberry & Pomegranate flavor in the Chicken Curry Balls and the Raspberry Peach Champagne Jam in the Chickpea Curry Balls. Use unsweetened coconut, sweetened coconut, or a combination of unsweetened and sweetened coconut to coat the balls. I grated my coconut flakes more finely in my mini-chopper so they would adhere better. Chickpeas are not as firm as chicken so more “structure” may needed; adjust amount of almond flour as needed. I used more curry powder in the vegan version as the chickpeas were not as flavorful as the chicken I had baked in coconut oil with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Because chickpeas are less firm than chicken, the vegan version requires more chilling time. In appearance, both versions look identical unless you use more curry powder in one over the other and then the version with more curry powder will have a darker yellow color because of the turmeric in the curry powder.

Not just gf, but gfe!

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29 Responses to “Indian Curry Balls—Joy’s Chicken Version and My Vegan Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Version”

  1. Ina Gawne on January 27th, 2012 10:35 am

    Shirley – these recipes sound wonderful! Anything with curry in it has me right away! Now I am craving curry…think I might make curry for dinner!

    • Shirley on January 30th, 2012 10:12 pm

      Hey Ina–Thank you! Hope you enjoyed your curry! :-)


  2. Diane-thewholegang on January 27th, 2012 10:39 am

    My vegetarian son is going to love these! Very cool.

    • Shirley on January 30th, 2012 10:13 pm

      Hey Diane–I hope he will! Thanks! :-)


  3. Cindy on January 27th, 2012 2:13 pm

    Does one have to be careful about gluten in curry powders?

    • Shirley on January 30th, 2012 10:24 pm

      Cindy–One should be careful about gluten in everything except whole, real foods. Off the top of my head, I don’t know a curry powder made in the U.S. that does contain gluten BUT that’s not to say that one doesn’t exist. According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), in the U.S., wheat must be shown on the ingredients label of any product that contains it. I do not know of any concerns regarding curry powder containing barley (also shown as malt) or rye. Spice and herb companies that have cross contamination concerns will usually disclose that and refuse to state that their products are gluten free. Some brands of curry powder are known to be gluten free, however, like McCormick, Penzey’s, and Spice Islands. I use Spice Islands because my local grocery store carries it. Hope that helps!


      • Cindy on February 1st, 2012 2:59 pm

        Thank you, so much, for clearing that up. The recipe looks wonderful!

        • Shirley on February 1st, 2012 11:37 pm

          Sure, Cindy, and thanks! :-)


  4. gfveg on January 27th, 2012 3:31 pm

    these curried chickpeas balls make me want to have a party!!

    • Shirley on January 30th, 2012 10:37 pm

      gfveg–You should have a party! These are definitely party food. :-)


  5. Alta on January 27th, 2012 4:07 pm

    OOh, how creative! I’ll have to figure out a dairy-free, chickpea-free version! :)

    • Shirley on January 30th, 2012 10:39 pm

      Alta–In your case, I think you could do a “mix and match” type thing … using chicken instead of chickpeas in the second version. ;-)


  6. Carol on January 27th, 2012 5:23 pm

    Are we voting? If so I vote for your version although both sound fab! Love the addition of jam and worchestershire if you don’t have chutney on hand – very clever!

    • Shirley on January 30th, 2012 10:40 pm

      Hi Carol–Thanks for the vote, dear! I’ve never liked chutney, but I like this substitution mix–thanks! :-)


  7. InTolerant Chef on January 27th, 2012 7:24 pm

    Very nice indeed! We have regular curry nights with friends where we all bring a different type of curry along. Last week we had Sri Lankan seafood, chicken and mango, Thai green chicken, beef rendang, Malaysian laksa, cashew chicken, curry puffs, roti, and more!
    Next time i’d like to take these yummy bites as well, they would be a welcome addition indeed!

    • Shirley on January 30th, 2012 10:41 pm

      InTolerant Chef–Oh my goodness! All that food sounds incredible! If these Indian Curry Balls make a “good showing” against that kind of stiff competition, please let me know. ;-)


  8. cheryl on January 27th, 2012 10:55 pm

    That looks yummy. I love how warming Indian spices are.

    • Shirley on January 30th, 2012 10:42 pm

      Hey Chery–Thank you! Warming is a good description of Indian spices. It seems easy to control the results of the curry powder in this recipe. :-)


  9. Desi@ThePalatePeacemaker on January 28th, 2012 1:00 am

    Shirley, I LOVE your vegan version! Way to convert that! :)

    • Shirley on January 30th, 2012 10:43 pm

      Hey Desi–Thank you, dear. I hope it works out well for all. :-)


  10. Maggie on January 29th, 2012 9:45 pm

    Okay I LOVE the idea of these balls Shirley. I’m glad you got past that curry powder thing :) I can’t wait to try your chick pea version. Thank you so much for sharing this with GAHIGF this month. I’m working on the post right now, and wow! The entries are amazing.

    • Shirley on January 30th, 2012 10:45 pm

      Maggie–I think I’m still taking baby steps with curry powder, but I’m getting there. ;-) The GAHIGF roundup IS AMAZING as you said! You did a fabulous job on summarizing, dear! :-)


  11. Beth @ Tasty Yummies on February 2nd, 2012 11:46 pm

    Wow – I want those vegan ones RIGHT NOW. I am totally salivating. YUM! Indian flavors are some of my absolute favorite. I really need more of it in my life. I think I need to start with these. Thanks for sharing!

    • Shirley on February 4th, 2012 8:28 pm

      Hi Beth–Welcome to gfe! :-) Hope you enjoy these when you make them. I’m fairly new to Indian flavors, but I’m smitten with these Indian curry balls. ;-)


  12. Kim Moyer on March 29th, 2014 11:15 am

    I cannot find the tag to post to my recipes. I am not good with the computer stuff, but followed your website help but could not find a way to do the tag. I was working with Joy’s curry balls.

    • Shirley on March 29th, 2014 10:13 pm

      Hi Kim–Are you talking about saving the recipe to ZipList? Click on Recipe Box at the top of the page and you should be able to add tags from there. Hope that helps!


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