Bigilla is a perfect savoury spicy dried broad bean dip, that is best enjoyed with these light and crispy traditional Maltese water crackers galletti.
If you’ve ever been to Malta or know about Maltese cuisine, you’ve for sure must’ve heard of this iconic duo. Found at every Maltese gathering these two are always a hit! Bigilla can have a love or hate debate and some might like it thicker whereas others might not, and the level of spiceness is also heavily discussed. However, one thing is for sure galletti are always a crowd pleaser.
Galletti can easily be found next to dips, or included to a platter, Maltese or not. Also, these little water crackers are definitely a great snack! Nowadays, these galletti have even evolved to different flavours such as sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper, rosemary and even ones flavoured with the traditional Maltese cheese, ġbenjiet tal-bżar (peppered cheeslets). They’re all really good. However, one of my favourite ways of eating them is just smothering some butter on the plain ones. Optionally, I used to add some Maltese cheeselets on the side.
Bigilla is a traditional Maltese slightly spicy dip, made from mashed dried broad beans (ful ta’ Ġirba), olive oil, salt and chili flakes. It’s really similar to ful Medames which is really popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is probable that bigilla has actually the same origin of ful Medames, as the Maltese islands were under Arabic leadership for several centuries. This dip can be served cold or slightly warm. It’s the perfect addition to a cheese and cold cuts platter, as it is also great as a spread on some warm bread. Another way which I love eating it, is by serving it as a pasta sauce by diluting it slightly with some pasta water.
Although this dip might be a bit time consuming to make, it’s for sure worth all the waiting time during it’s preparation process.
Maltese Bigilla (Dried broad bean dip)
- dried fava beans 1 cup
- 750 ml water 2 cups
- 30 ml olive oil 2 tbsp
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1/2 tbsp parsley chopped
- 1 tbsp parsley chopped
- 1 chili pepper
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- olive oil drizzle
- Start by soaking the dried fava beans from a day before you plan to cook the bigilla. In a large bowl place the dried beans and cover with water. Let it sit for a day whilst checking if more water is needed.
- The next day, rinse the beans and add the beans to a large pot with the water. Bring the beans to a boil. While it is boiling, you’ll notice some foam on the surface. Remove the foam with a slotted spoon.
- Cover and let it simmer for about an hour. Check the beans if they need more water. Let it cook for another 30 minutes and check for doneness. If the beans are still a bit hard let them cook for another 30 minutes.
- Once the beans are cooked, remove the excess water. Do not discard the water in which the beans cooked in for now. Add the beans to a food processor.
- Together with the beans, add two tbsps of the water in which the beans were cooked in, olive oil, salt, garlic, chili flakes and parsley. Pulse together until all the beans are broken and you have a thick paste. Add more water if the consistency is too thick.
- To serve, simply place the dip into a bowl and top with parsley, chili flakes and a diced chili pepper. Finally drizzle a good quality olive oil on top. Serve with warm bread or galletti.
Galletti (Maltese Water Crackers)
- 400 g plain flour
- 100 g semolina
- 200 ml water lukewarm
- 30 g butter melted
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 7 g dry active yeast 1 sachet
- In a small bowl mix the lukewarm water, yeast and sugar. Let the mixture foam for about 15 minutes.
- Combine all the dry ingredients together; flour, semolina, and salt. Once mixed together add the melted butter and the activated yeast and mix together.
- Knead the dough for some minutes, until you get a smooth soft dough.
- Place the dough in a bowl, cover and let it rest for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
- If you have a pasta machine you can use it, or else a normal rolling pin can do the job. Divide the dough into about 8 pieces as it's best to work is small batches. Roll the dough to about 2mm thick.
- With a narrow glass or a small cookie cutter cut the galletti and place them on the baking tray. With a toothpick or fork, make five holes in the middle of each galletta. This will help the dough not to fill with air and puff up while cooking.
- Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, until they get a golden colour. Let them cool. You might need to cook all the dough in several batches as this will depend on your oven and baking trays.
- They can be enjoyed immediately or later. If stored in an air tight container these galletti can last for about a week as they'll keep their crunchiness.
If you have any questions, feedback or comments on this recipe, please leave a comment below. Please also rate this recipe by double clicking on the stars below. If you did make this recipe, tag @apronandwhisk and hashtag #apronandwhisk, as I’m curious to see what you create!
Don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing list down below so to receive the recipe updates straight to your mailbox!