Timpana is an epic Maltese dish made by baking pasta in a rich meat sauce inside a shortcrust pastry. It's a delicious celebration dish that's an absolute showstopper.

This recipe is taken from Malta by Simon Bajada (Hardie Grant, £26).

First published in 2023

Timpana is one of Malta’s most recognised dishes (known as ‘timpano’ in Sicily). The pie is reserved for special occasions, though you would not think this given how often some Maltese people make it. The goal is to cook the pastry without drying the interior. To help with this, I make my timpana in a tall cake tin so the pie is high and not too wide. (If you don’t have a tall tin, you can also make the pie in an enamelled cast-iron pot, skipping the crimped edge and serving the pie upside down.) Making and chilling the pasta filling in advance is another trick. The inclusion of minced pork adds moisture, and chicken livers add a distinctive flavour.





Shortcrust pastry

  • 450g of plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 210g of butter, chilled and diced, plus extra for greasing
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100ml of iced water, or up to 120ml
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp of milk


  • 24cm spring-form cake tin



If using fresh tomatoes, score them on their bases and grate with a box grater


Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the minced meat and pancetta and cook until the meat has browned and any moisture has evaporated. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, spices and some salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer the ragu for 45 minutes


Scrape into a bowl to cool


In a frying pan, sauté the liver in the butter over a medium heat until the pieces are seared all over but still pink in the middle. Season with salt and pepper


Boil the pasta in well-salted water for a few minutes less than the packet recommends. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool the pasta down


Whisk 3 eggs in a large mixing bowl, then stir in the parmesan. Mix in the pasta, followed by the ragu and chicken livers. The pasta should not be as wet as a normal pasta with sauce, but should not be too dry either

  • 5 eggs, 2 of them hard-boiled, peeled and quartered
  • 80g of Parmesan, grated

Refrigerate until completely chilled


While the pasta mixture is chilling, make the pastry. Combine the flour, butter and salt in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs or rough sand

  • 450g of plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 210g of butter, chilled and diced, plus extra for greasing
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add the water to create a firm dough. Shape into a ball, then flatten into a disc. Cover in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 45 minutes

  • 100ml of iced water, or up to 120ml

Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and butter a large, tall non-stick springform cake tin (about 10 cm/4 in high and 24 cm/9½ in wide)


Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to 5 mm (1/4 in) thick. Line the tin with the pastry, then trim off the excess and form the scraps into a ball to use for the lid


Fill the pastry shell with half the pasta mixture. Scatter with the wedges of boiled egg, and top with the remaining pasta


Roll out the remaining pastry and cover the pie. Trim off the excess pastry leaving a small border. Fold in and use a thumb to make decorative indentations around the edge. Whisk the egg with the milk and brush over the top of the timpana

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp of milk

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pie, remove the springform sides and cook for another 15 minutes

Simon Bajada is an Australian photographer and food writer currently living in Sweden. He has previously worked as a chef and food stylist, and written four cookbooks. His latest cookbook, Malta, was released in 2023.

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