A traditional Maltese breakfast or lunch. Balbuljata is a quick and easy soft creamy scrambled eggs in tomatoes and onions.
One dish which takes me straight to my childhood is balbuljata! I specifically remember having this on Saturdays for lunch. On Saturdays, in fact, my father would be the one cooking, and as balbuljata was one of the few meals he used to cook, we had it often. Either eaten with plenty of crusty crunchy bread or else with a huge helping of potatoes. It was truly delicious and so comforting to me. However, you might wonder what balbuljata exactly is?
What is Balbuljata?
Balbuljata is a traditional Maltese dish which consists of scrambled eggs in a rich tomato and onion sauce. This tomato and egg mix is an undeniable winner. The Maltese balbuljata is similar to the Turkish Menemen or the Greek Strapatsada, whilst being a distant cousin of Shakshuka and Huevos Rancheros. In Malta this dish is considered a poor man’s dish but let me tell you that the fresh Mediterranean flavours are simply exceptional. Technically there is no specific recipe as this is one of those recipes where you need time to follow your heart while making it. I suggest that you take the measurements below as guidelines to create a delicious balbuljata. In fact, the one shared here is the simple basic form of balbuljata which my family makes. You can spice things up a little and add things to your liking.
Eggs – use fresh eggs! I like to use medium sized eggs, if you have different sized eggs be sure to add or reduce the number of eggs as needed.
Olive oil – as this dish only contains few ingredients, it’s essential to use good quality ones for optimal taste! Therefore, use good quality olive oil!
Tomatoes – the best to use are beefy juicy tomatoes, as these will give you a richer sauce. Use tomatoes when they are in season for the best results.
Tomato Paste – this one is optional! However, I like to add a teaspoon Maltese kunserva (tomato paste) to enrich the sauce and get a deeper flavour and colour.
Onion – do not skim on this! Onions are essential for the balbuljata. You can use any variety, however I recommend that you use brown onions.
Garlic – you only need a couple of garlic cloves to enhance the flavour of this delicious dish.
Parsley – because what is a Maltese dish without parsley? Use chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, and use as much you like!
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How to make Balbuljata?
All you need to make this balbuljata is a pan and a couple of minutes! Start by heating a generous table spoon of olive oil in the pan over medium heat. Gently add the onion and let it cook until it’s opaque. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Carefully add the tomatoes, a teaspoon of tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and let everything cook for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes break down and you have a delicious sauce bubbling away. In the meantime, whisk the eggs in a separate bowl. Once the sauce is done add the eggs and immediately start mixing them in the pan with the sauce. Continue mixing gently until the eggs are cooked, for about 3 minutes. Be careful not to overcook it! Finish it off with a generous handful of parsley. Serve immediately warm with a side of crusty bread to clean up the plate!
Other ingredients that go in the Balbuljata
As already mentioned, this is the basic recipe my family makes. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s always the same. My parents occasionally while frying the onion like to also add diced bacon. Also, whereas my mother likes chips served on the side, my father adds a couple of potatoes or chips to the mixture. In fact, adding potatoes is popular and is often called as ‘balbuljata bil-patata’. Another popular alternative is the ‘balbuljata bil-bulubif’ which is made with corned beef in the mixture. Apart from these I have seen people add other veggies to the sauce such zucchini, peppers and aubergines. For a more Mediterranean touch, olives and spinach can be added. Lastly, cheese, because we all know that cheese makes everything better. I would recommend to add cheese such as grated ġbejna, kefakotiri, pecorino or halloumi. Although, fresh ġbejna or feta will melt incredibly well too!
How to serve balbuljata?
Bread! You will need plenty of bread while eating it. In Malta it is mostly served with fresh crunchy crusty Maltese bread. Balbuljata is traditionally made either for breakfast or lunch. If you are having it for breakfast it is common to serve it with toasted bread and a cup of coffee or tea. Whilst for lunch it is served with salty fried chips to help soak up all the goodness.
Should I peel the skin of the tomatoes?
In my opinion, this is totally optional! There are people who say that you should remove the peel by boiling the tomatoes for a few seconds, or by peeling it with a peeler. However, as I chop my tomatoes very finely I find that there is no need to remove it as it will dissolve in the sauce. Therefore, this step is optional as you decide how you like your balbuljata!
Can I use other types of tomatoes?
Traditionally, only fresh tomatoes are used with maybe a teaspoon of tomato paste. However, you can make balbuljata with canned crushed tomatoes, although this might require you to cook it for a little longer so it’s not as liquidy.
How to store leftovers?
Ideally, balbuljata is eaten fresh and I highly doubt you will have any leftovers, with it being so addictive. However, if you have some left you can store it in an airtight container for not more than 2 days. Then, simply heat it up in the microwave or on low heat on the stove.
Balbuljata – Maltese Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes
- 4 eggs
- 8 tomatoes finely diced
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 1 tsp tomato paste kunserva
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- olive oil
- parsley to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a generous table spoon of olive oil in the pan over medium heat. Gently add the onion and let it cook until it’s opaque.
- Add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Carefully add the chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon of tomato paste and season with salt and pepper.
- Mix well and let everything cook for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes break down and you have a delicious sauce bubbling away. In the meantime, whisk the eggs in a separate bowl.
- Once the sauce is done, add the eggs and immediately start mixing them in the pan with the sauce. Continue mixing gently until the eggs are cooked, for about 3 minutes. Be careful not to overcook it!
- Finish it off with a generous handful of parsley. Serve immediately warm with a side of crusty bread to clean up the plate!
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!
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