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5 from 1 vote

Sfineġ tal-Inċova - Traditional Maltese Anchovy Fritters

Sfineġ tal-Inċova are a fluffy yet crunchy Maltese speciality traditionally eaten during the Lent period, specifically on Good Friday. Basically, they are a fried dough ball with an anchovy on the inside.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Resting Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Italian, Maltese, Mediterranean
Keyword: Anchovy, Dough, fritters
Servings: 20 pieces


  • 250 g plain flour 2 cups
  • 250 ml lukewarm water 1 cup
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast 5 g
  • 1/2 tsp sugar 3 g
  • 1/2 tsp salt 3 g
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 10 anchovies cut in half
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped


  • In a large bowl, start by activating the yeast in lukewarm water together with the sugar. Let them activate for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the flour to the yeast mixture and mix well. It has to be really loose without any clumps. It should look like a stretchy batter. If your consistency is more dough-like add more water.
  • Once you achieve the desired consistency, add the salt, pepper and parsley and mix well.
  • Cover the bowl and let it rest for about 2 hours in a warm place. The batter should be all bubbly and double in size.
  • Fill a large pot with vegetable oil, pour enough oil so that the sfineġ have enough space to cook in, about 7 cm. Heat the oil to about 170°C.
  • Cut the anchovies in half and set aside.
  • Using two table spoons, grab some batter on the spoon and place a piece of the anchovy in the middle. With the other spoon grab from the sides the dripping batter and place it on top of the anchovy so that you cover it. Gently drop the batter with the anchovy in the oil. You will know if the oil is hot enough, as when you drop the batter it should rise to the top and starts puffing immediately. The cooking time should take about 3 minutes on each side of the fritter or until they achieve a nice golden colour.
  • Repeat and continue to fry until all the batter is used. It's important to leave plenty of space between each fritter so that they don't stick together.
  • Drain the sfineġ from excess oil on some paper towels. Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon juice on top. Enjoy!


Sfineġ are made to be eaten immediately, so only start cooking them when you are going to eat them. They will get soggy and oily if you let them stand.