Tag: Traditional Foods of Malta

Legendary Dishes | Rolitos / Brajoli (layered meat rolls)


Generally the tradition throughout Europe is to use pork or veal to make layered meat rolls, but Malta and Gibraltar share the beef method, as a consequence of their culinary and cultural connections. It is not unusual to see rolitos made with chicken.


  • 1 litre beef stock
  • 320 g beef (rump or sirloin), cut into 4 pieces, each flattened into 10 cm x 16 cm rectangles
  • 1 aubergine, cut length-wise 2 cm thick into 4 slices, grilled
  • 50 g hard cheese, grated
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cured ham (serrano) slices
  • 30 ml olive oil, for marinade
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8 basil leaves
  • Black pepper, large pinch
  • Salt, large pinch
  • 4 toothpicks

Bring stock to a low boil.

Marinade aubergines, garlic and tomatoes in the oil for 30 minutes.

Grill aubergines and tomatoes, leave to cool in juice and oil from grill pan.

Season meat, place ham on top of each piece followed by the aubergine slice, four tomatoes halves, grated cheese and two basil leaves.

Roll tightly, secure with toothpick.

Simmer in stock for 90 minutes.

Bragioli / Brajoli

Maltese traditional cuisine can be very tasty without using the very best cuts of meat. This tasty speciality is part of the Maltese peasant and rustic recipes, that can also be served as two meals, using the sauce with pasta as a first course.

  • 600 g topside / round beef, cut into 100 g slices, flattened with a mallet
  • 500 g beef mince / veal mince
  • 120 g gbejniet cheese, grated
  • 2 rashers of smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs, beaten


500 ml water
300 g onions, diced
250 ml red wine
250 g tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tbsp basil, chopped
5 g pepper
5 g salt
2 bay leaves

Start with the sauce: chop and fry onion and garlic in olive oil until softened and golden.

Add tomatoes, herbs, red wine and water and leave to simmer while you prepare the bragioli.

First, lay out the beef slices. Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. Place then a heaped tablespoon of stuffing mixture on each beef slice, spreading out well.

Roll it up and secure it with a toothpicks or tie with butcher’s twine. Place the bragioli in the sauce and simmer for 90 minutes over low heat.

Legendary Dishes | Pastitsio (pasta bake)


Tourists visiting the Mediterranean islands of Crete, Cyprus, Malta, Sicily and Sardinia might be forgiven for thinking there is an ad hoc competition among their restaurants to see who produces the best pasta bake. The Greeks of course will tell you their pastitsio is the best and the rest are mere imitations.

And there is the dilemma, each chef – domestic and professional – has their own interpretation, albeit subtle tweaks that are not always discernable.

We have favoured an eastern Mediterranean sensibility with cheese custard for the topping rather than a white sauce, thick tube pasta cooked and dressed with eggs and cheese, and a meat filling flavoured with onion, marjoram, mint, parsley and thyme.


  • 500 g penne / rigatoni pasta
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 90 g hard cheese
  • 60 g butter
  • 5 g black pepper
  • Salt, large pinch
  • 2 gratings of nutmeg


  • 750 g beef / lamb / pork mince
  • 250 g onion, thin sliced
  • 125 ml meat stock
  • 45 ml dry white wine
  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt
  • 5 sprigs parsley, chopped small
  • 10 mint leaves, chopped small
  • 5 sprigs marjoram
  • 5 sprigs thyme


  • 1 litre full-fat milk
  • 500 g halloumi cheese, grated
  • 4 eggs, whisked
  • 45 g cornflour
  • 30 ml water


  • 90 g kefalotiri cheese / hard cheese, grated
  • Butter, for greasing

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, drain and place in a large bowl. Melt butter and pour over the pasta. Add the cheese and seasonings, toss, add eggs and toss again. Set aside.

Sauté onion in oil for 10 minutes, add the meat and cook until brown. Add the wine, stock, herbs and seasonings, simmer for 20 minutes until almost all of the liquid has been reduced. Leave to cool.

Whisk the eggs and milk for the topping in a pot, bring slowly to the boil. Whisk the water into the cornflour, pour slowly into the egg-milk mixture, heat gradually until the mixture begins to thicken, add the cheese.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Grease a large baking tray, place half of the pasta mixture on the bottom, follow with the meat mixture, the remaining pasta mixture and the cheese custard. Sprinkle the top with the grated hard cheese.

Bake for 50 minutes.

Legendary Dishes | Imqarrun il-forn (pasta bake)


The Maltese version of the Mediterranean pasta bake is unique because of the variable ingredients in the countless versions of the traditional recipe. These include aubergine, pea, pumpkin and tomato for a vegetarian version plus bacon and chicken liver for an enriched meat version. The liver gives the dish an enhanced depth of flavour. Cheese, hard and soft, feature prominently, and ricotta is favoured alongside Italian hard cheese.

Version 1

  • 500 g maccheroni nº37 / rigatoni, cooked al dente
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 250 g semi-hard cheese, grated
  • 200 g beef mince
  • 200 g bacon, diced
  • 200 g chicken livers, diced
  • 200 g pork mince
  • 150 ml chicken jelly / beef stock
  • 100 g onions, chopped
  • 60 g tomato paste
  • 15 g butter
  • 50 g parmigiano cheese, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preheat oven to 180°C.

In a deep saucepan sauté onions and garlic in oil for five minutes over a low heat, add the bacon followed by the pork mince and the beef mince. Cook for ten minutes. Add the livers, stir and cook for five minutes.

Pour in stock, bring to boil, simmer for 20 minutes, then add tomato paste and purée. Remove from heat.

Cook and drain pasta. Rinse in cold water to arrest the cooking process, then combine it with the meat mixture.

Stir the half of the cheese into the eggs with some seasonings. Add to the meat and pasta mixture.

Pour pasta mixture into a greased deep casserole dish, season and top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes until the topping is golden brown.

Version 2

Without the garlic and liver this version is suitable for children.

  • 500 g long macaroni
  • 500 g passata
  • 500 g ricotta
  • 5 eggs + 2 eggs hard-boiled, chopped
  • 300 g pork mince
  • 300 g hard cheese, grated
  • 200 g beef mince
  • 200 g bacon, chopped small
  • 100 g chicken liver, chopped small (optional)
  • 100 g water
  • 60 g tomato paste
  • 30 g sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed (optional)
  • 15 g black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

In a large frying pan pour in the passata, tomato paste, and water add the beef mince and pork mince followed a few minutes later by the bacon and, if using, chicken liver and, if using, garlic, bring to a low boil, reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes.

Set aside to cool

Cook the macaroni until al dente.

Drain macaroni and rinse in cold water, mix with the sauce.

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

In a large bowl beat the eggs vigorously, add 200 g of the cheese, grind in the pepper, add the salt and the ricotta, mix.

Blend cheese-egg mixture with the macaroni mixture.

Pour into a large casserole dish.

Spread the hard-boiled eggs on top, cover with remaining grated cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Imqarrun il-forn

This pasta bake can be reheated with a little water in a covered casserole dish, but it is easily refried in a large frying pan with a small amount of oil and given a crispy surface under the grill.

Legendary Dishes | Bigilla (spicy bean paté)


The shadow of the Pharaoh and the mark of the Nile‘s rich harvest will always characterise this timeless Egyptian breakfast. Ful medames (fava beans with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil) falls lightly on this Mediterranean version.

  • 500 g fava (brown) beans, dried, soaked overnight
  • 60 g garlic, crushed
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 5 g marjoram, finely chopped
  • 5 g mint, finely chopped
  • 2 green / red chillies, chopped / 1 tsp chilli sauce
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • Salt, large pinch

Boil beans in salted water until soft, drain, add garlic and mash with a wooden spoon. Mix with oil and press through a sieve, add herbs and spices.