Little chickpea fritters

With only a few quality ingredients you can make chickpea fritters at home, a typical Sicilian street food. They are fried and often served inside soft rolls, flavoured to taste with pepper and a squeeze of lemon. The people of Palermo tend not to cook the fritters at home, given its ready availability on every street corner of the city ... but we think this recipe will be useful to anyone who doesn’t live on the island and doesn’t want to miss out on such a lovely delicacy!


  • chickpea flour 400 grams
  • groundnut oil Or lard
  • salt
  • parsley Chopped (optional)
  • lemon A few drops of lemon juice
  • pepper

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20 minutes Total time
10 minutes Active time
Serves 4 persons
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Chickpea flour fritters (from western Sicily). Mix the chickpea flour into moderately salted water on a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon always in the same direction, until you get a smooth paste without lumps. When the dough comes away from the side of the pan, transfer it to a pastry board of oiled wood or marble, and roll it out until it is about half a centimetre in height. As soon as the dough cools, cut into strips or squares: these are fried in hot oil or lard. The Palermo eat ‘panelle’ - that is, these fried chickpea fritters - still hot, inside freshly baked bread, cut in half, with a few drops of lemon juice and salt. Sometimes, mixed in with the chickpea flour will be chopped parsley. It’s a popular specialty similar to Ligurian ‘panissa’ or certain Tunisian ‘fritters’.

You must be quick when rolling out the dough mixture on the pastry board, or on to a sheet of lightly oiled baking parchment, because the dough tends to dry out quickly preventing it from being spread thinly enough.
It seems that these fritters were invented by the Arabs who, as they ground their chickpeas, a legume from the East, first discovered chickpea flour and then a method of frying them. The fritters were first shaped by special moulds of wood that bore an embossed floral symbol or logo that was to indicate the ‘fritter-maker’ who had made them. Another little curiosity about the fritters: they used to be eaten - and still can be – in a specific bead roll, the ‘Mafalda’.

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