Maltese Bigilla dip topped with herbs and chili flakes

Bigilla – Malta’s Most Loved Healthy Bean Dip

Bigilla is a traditional Maltese dip made with ‘Ful ta ġirba’ which translates to Djerba or Tic beans. These beans are small brown beans, very similar to broad beans or fava beans. This healthy bean dip recipe is one of Malta’s most family loved recipes and with good reason! 

Apart from the fact that it’s quite easy to make, the taste is so unique and flavorful. It’s also very versatile. You can eat the dip with crackers or veggie sticks, spread it over a slice of Maltese bread, or use it inside Mediterranean salads.  

Maltese bean dip with crackers, galletti and carrot stick dippers

This healthy bean dip is also the perfect appetizer since it’s vegan and free from gluten, dairy, nuts and all the major allergens. You’ll find bigilla served as an appetizer in most Maltese bars alongside Arjoli Dip and other Maltese snacks. You’ll also find it sold in supermarkets, grocery stores and food trucks around the island. 

Djerba beans can be a bit difficult to come across, yet these can easily be subbed for dried split fava beans. Although the colour will not be the same, the flavour is very similar. For my recipe I used dried broad beans which is why the colour is lighter than the usual Maltese  Bigilla. 

How to make Bigilla 

This vegan bean dip is super easy to make. All you need to do is leave beans soak overnight. You then wash the beans and boil them for around an hour until they’re soft and tender. While the beans are cooking, blend the garlic with olive oil, lemon juice, herbs and spices in your food processor to make a smooth paste. 

Once the beans are somewhat mushy, you remove them from heat, drain them from the excess water and mix them with the garlic paste. You then mush the whole mixture with a fork to achieve a chunky paste consistency. Finally, you season the dip with salt and pepper, chilli flakes and dried herbs. 

We love to eat bigilla with ‘Galletti’, which are traditional Maltese water biscuits. For a healthier option, you can slice carrots or celery into dipping sticks and enjoy your homemade bean dip with veggie dippers. Alternatively, you can also or serve with tortilla chips for a bit of a Mexican twist. 

Maltese Galletti with bigilla dip

Is Bigilla healthy? 

The ready packaged bigilla sold in supermarkets and stores is usually quite healthy. Nevertheless, it often contains a higher amount of oil and salt than the homemade type. Some would also contain preservatives and other unnecessary ingredients.  

This Bigilla recipe makes for an even healthier snack. I used high quality extra virgin olive oil which is great for the heart. The healthy fats found inside the oil will keep you feeling full for a long time. This easy bean dip is also packed with complex carbs, plenty of fiber and protein from the beans. One serving contains a whopping 5.2g of fiber and a healthy 5.5g of plant based protein. 

Bigilla - Malta's favourite bean dip

If you love trying out traditional Maltese recipes which are tasty and low calorie, you’ll probably also enjoy my Brungiel Mimli (stuffed aubergines) and Qassatat tal-Pizelli. Maltese sweets are more your thing? You’ll find plenty of healthier versions that you can enjoy with your lunch or dinner such as Helwa tat-Tork Cheesecakes and Vegan Gateau Marie!

Maltese Bigilla dip topped with herbs and chili flakes

Maltese Bigilla Dip

A light and refreshing Maltese bean dip
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Maltese, Mediterranean
Servings 10 Servings
Calories 98 kcal


  • Food Processor


  • 200 g Dried Split Fava Beans use Djerba or Tic beans if you find
  • 1 Vegetable Cube optional
  • 2 cloves Garlic use more if you prefer a strong garlic taste
  • 2 tbsp Chopped Parsley
  • 1 tbsp Chopped Basil
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • squeeze Lemon Juice
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Chili Flakes for topping


  • Leave the fava beans soaked overnight or for at least 4 hours
  • Rinse the fava beans very well and bring to a boil
  • Add the vegetable cube and stir
  • Keep stirring occasionally and cook for around 30 minutes until the beans are soft
  • Meanwhile, add the garlic, herbs and spices, lemon juice, and olive oil to the bowl of your food processor and process until smooth
  • Drain the beans and transfer to a bowl
  • Add the garlic paste and mash the beans and garlic paste with a fork
  • Keep mashing and stirring until you achieve a chunky yet smooth dip consistency, like hummus
  • Top with chili flakes and serve with Galletti, crackers or veggie sticks


If you use My Fitness Pal to log your food, you can find this recipe listed on the database as ‘The Healthy Malteser Bigilla’.

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