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Bigilla – Maltese broad bean dip

Bigilla - Maltese broad bean dip
  • Side
  • easy
  • 4
  • 10 minutes, plus overnight soaking time for the beans

PT10M

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One of the best things about travelling is the opportunity to taste new food, and this recipe for Bigilla is just one that I 'collected' on my many travels. Bigilla is a Maltese speciality – a dip that is made out of dried 'fava' beans (broad beans). It has just the right amount of chilli peppers added to give it a spicy kick, whilst the mint cools things down a bit, and adds to the special flavour of this deliciously rustic dip and spread.

In Malta, they use the local beans called tic beans, known as Ful ta' Ġirba (Djerba beans) – these beans are similar to broad beans but are smaller, and are darker in colour, as opposed to the pale green of broad beans. Bigilla is served as an appetiser or snack, and is nearly always spread on bread, which makes for a tasty prelude to any Maltese feast that is to follow.

The recipe that I am sharing is an authentic recipe that a Maltese friend gave to me; it’s her mother’s recipe, but she does point out that like any beloved national 'signature dish', the recipe will vary from household to household, with each person closely guarding their own special family recipe with pride. I love the spiciness of this recipe, as well as the subtle herbal tang that you also get.

If you can source tic beans, then do try to make this recipe with them. If not, then dried fava beans will give you a wonderful result and I always add some fresh broad beans in my dip, as well as on the top, to give it a more elegant and light finish. Serve the dip with crusty or toasted bread, as well as sandwich spread.

Ingredients

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Method

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1
Soak the dried fava/broad beans overnight. Replace the water the next day and bring the beans to the boil before simmering until cooked and soft
2
Drain the beans, allow them to cool and place in a large bowl with ¾ of the fresh broad beans and the remaining ingredients. Using a handheld stick blender, pulse them until mashed but with some texture still
3
Pile the dip into a serving bowl and scatter the rest of the fresh broad beans over the top. Drizzle over some extra olive oil and garnish with fresh mint leaves
4
Serve as a dip with bread or as a sandwich spread
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