Monday, 12 July 2010

Bigilla (Maltese Broad Bean Dip)

With my trip back home to the old country last week my taste for Bigilla, a traditional Maltese broad bean dip, was reawakened. It's incredibly tasty and a great alternative to hummus, usually served with Maltese water crackers called Galletti or on toasted sour dough bread. In Malta, people will either make their own or buy it by weight from markets – though these days you'll find them in ready made up tubs in the local shops.

Bigilla usually has red chilli added to it for a fiery kick, though some prefer to leave the chilli out, while others will add Tabasco for extra heat. Here, I'm giving the recipe my mother gave me, her recipe calls for the tyoe of dried broad bean that has skins, but unfortunately I could only get the skinless ones. If you can get a hold of them with the skins, it will give the Bigilla the authentic brown colour rather the "white" colour of the version I have made here. Both are equally tasty, though there is an earthy depth to the skin-on version.

With this recipe you can make it in advance and serve it cold (it will keep in the fridge for a few days, just add a little extra oil to preserve it), or eat it warm.

Take note that the beans are soaked overnight, please allow time for this. As well as a cooking time of about 1.5 hours.

Bigilla (Maltese Broad Bean Dip)

250g Dried Broad Beans (available in most Middle Eastern shops)
2 – 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
finely chopped chilli (optional, but highly recommended)

1. In a medium sized pan, soak the broad beans in cold water overnight.

2. Drain the broad beans and just cover with clean, fresh cold water and bring to boil over a medium heat.

3. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and simmer for 1 - 1.5 hours. When the beans start going soft, mash with the back of a fork, keeping an eye on the water level, it shouldn't be sloppy, but a nice thick paste with a bit of texture from the broken up broad beans. Don't let it dry out!

4. Once all the broad beans have softened and mashed, gradually add the oil a tablespoon at a time, mixing in as you go. You want it to be smooth – too little oil will make it dry and floury, too much and you'll get a slick mess.

I was very lucky to receive a gift of Maltese olive oil made from
the remaining indigenous olives grown in Malta and have used it in my Bigilla.

5. Stir in the parsley and garlic, gradually add salt and pepper, tasting as you go. That's the key thing with Bigilla, is taste, taste, taste.

6. If you're adding chillis, again, do it gradually and taste as you go. In this version I have only added a heaped teaspoon worth of chilli to give it a little kick but keeping it mild. If I didn't have guests eating it, personally would have added another heaped teaspoon.

7. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of parsley on top – don't forget the crackers!


The Grubworm said...

That looks tasty. I have a jar of butter beans sitting in my cupboard at home, i wonder if they might be pressed into use for something similar. I love beany dips like this, a couple together with some bread make for a superb light supper.

Mer said...

I'm pretty sure you can, though when I asked mum the same question she said "NO! Dried broad beans only!". lol

But then it's no longer bigilla, it's a bean dip. :)