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Maltese Spicy Broad Bean Paste (Bigilla) Recipe

Updated on May 11, 2017
Bigilla with galleti on the left and ftira on the right
Bigilla with galleti on the left and ftira on the right


Dried broad bean (also known as fava beans) paste is a Maltese recipe that is also referred to as bigilla in the native language. The paste is served either with a piece of bread (like ftira) or water crackers (galletti). It is ideal as a healthy snack or to serve with drinks. In Malta, this bigilla can be purchased in stores or from street vendors. However, for those who wish to try it at home, here is the authentic recipe passed down in my family through generations. I still have the handwritten recipe in my great grandmother's handwriting!

Dried Broad Beans
Dried Broad Beans

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hour 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour 40 min
Yields: a nice bowlful to share with a group of people


  • 500 grams broad beans, (fava beans)
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, (just the juice)
  • 1 or 2 red peppers, (add to taste)
  • 7 cloves dried garlic
  • fresh pasley
  • fresh mint
  • marjoram
  • salt
  • a blender

The Method

  1. Place the dried broad beans in a large container and cover with water. Let them soak for a day making sure to change the water several times.
  2. Drain the water. Rinse the beans and place in a pot. Cover the beans with water. Bring the water to the boil and allow to boil for 90 minutes. Add more water to the pot as needed, always making sure all the beans are covered in water. (If using a pressure cooker, you need to cook for 30 minutes)
  3. After 90 minutes, the beans should be soft. Drain the water and put the beans in the blender.
  4. Add the other ingredients and blend.
  5. Allow to cool before serving.

4.8 stars from 4 ratings of Spicy Broad Bean Paste - Bigilla


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    • profile image

      Rosina Galdes 3 years ago

      I only had canned fava beans in chilli in the pantry and being hungry and short on time, I remembered this old favourite from my childhood days. It came quite close to the one I used to buy from the street hawker. I have to say though, when it is warm or hot, it tastes much nicer. I warmed it up in the microwave and it was delicious. One tip - be careful with the salt if using tinned beans. This is a recipe that matures with age, that's if you can resist constantly dipping into it. Keeps well in an airtight container. I spread mine over crusty bread. Mmm yum...

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 4 years ago from Europe

      Although the concept of a hummus and bigilla are the same the taste is very distinctively different. Both are worth a try!

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      This looks delicious! I just came to this from a hummus recipe, and saw your comment about having a similar recipe. It would be interesting to try this, and see how it compares. Thank you for sharing this family recipe with us!

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 5 years ago from Europe

      Thanks stessily. This paste is really worth the effort!

    • profile image

      stessily 5 years ago

      kikalina, Favas are a favourite bean for me. It's rare for them to last long enough to be used in paste! I'm willing to make an exception with this recipe, which sounds scrumptious.

      Thank you for sharing your great grandmother's recipe.

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 5 years ago from Europe

      yeah let me know if anyone gives it a try :)

    • rjsadowski profile image

      rjsadowski 5 years ago

      Sounds a little bit like hummus. Interesting.

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 5 years ago from Europe

      Finally managed to make some. I tell you, life with a toddler and baby is not easy.

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 5 years ago from Europe

      It has been a busy week but will manage a batch tommorow.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Please do include the finish product of this. I might try this, too. BTW, welcome to HubPages. You can also peruse my Tropical Cooking series at my account.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 5 years ago from Europe

      Yeah I will post a pic tommorow of the finished product when I get round to making it.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      Sounds good and fairly easy. I'll have to try this. Welcome to Hubpages, by the way.

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 6 years ago from Europe

      thank you, it does taste anazing! I spread it on fresh warm bread :)

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      Mmm, sounds like hummus. I would like to try it as it looks very healthy and I'm sure it is delicious as well. Rated up.