In La Barceloneta, an old quarter neighbourhood that juts into the sea, La Cova Fumada is well known for its tapas. The owners’ grandmother, María Pla, is credited with creating the now-legendary bomba, a crispy, fried ball of mashed potatoes enveloping spiced ground meat and served with pimentón (a paprika and tomato sauce) and garlic aioli.

Did you know? Tapas refers to small-plate servings, and not to specific types of food.

Recipe for Barcelona Bombas

Makes 8 to 12 balls


  • Olive oil, for cooking
  • 1/2 lb ground pork and/or beef
  • 1/2 small onion, coarsely grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely crushed
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Bread crumbs, for rolling
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise


1. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the beef and onion for five to six minutes, breaking up the meat until cooked through. Add one clove of garlic, tomato paste, salt and the cayenne and/or smoked paprika, and cook for three to four minutes or until any excess moisture has evaporated.

2. Make golf ball-sized balls out of the mashed potato; create an indent with your thumb and fill with the meat mixture. Seal with more mashed potato. Roll in the egg and the bread crumbs to coat. Heat a couple of inches of oil in a skillet to 350˚F and then fry the bombas, turning them until they are golden on all sides.

3. Mix the crushed tomatoes with the paprika and a pinch of salt, and whisk the second clove of garlic into the mayonnaise. Serve the bombas with the tomato sauce and garlic aioli, thinning it with a little water if needed.

[This story appears in the March 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine]