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Ghadam (bones) recipe

Ghadam (bones) recipe

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  • Biscuits and cookies

The Maltese calendar year is packed with feasts both secular and religious and generally specific traditional foods are linked with them. These sweets can be found throughout the whole month of November.

Malta Island, Malta

4 people made this

IngredientsServes: 20

  • For the shortcrust pastry
  • 480g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 300g margarine or butter
  • 1 lemon, grated zest only
  • 3 egg yolks (use the whites for the filling)
  • For the filling
  • 300g pure ground almonds
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, grated zest only
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 egg whites

MethodPrep:30min ›Cook:30min ›Extra time:10min cooling › Ready in:1hr10min

  1. Prepare the pastry as for as for sweet pastry: Whisk together the flour and the 100g sugar. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles crumbs. Stir in the lemon zest and egg yolks to form a soft dough. Cover the mixing bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to rest while you prepare the filling.
  2. In a large mixing bowl put the ground almonds, the 300g sugar, grated rind of 1 lemon, extracts and egg whites.
  3. Do not add too much almond essence, because it will give the filling a bitter taste. Mix well together till you have a fairly dry paste.
  4. Preheat the oven 190 C, Gas 5.
  5. Put the pastry on a lightly floured table top and roll it out. Cut into oblongs.
  6. Put some almond paste in the centre of each oblong.
  7. Wrap the pastry around the filling and mould them into the traditional bone shape. Tuck it neatly around, trimming off extra bits.
  8. Put these ‘bones’ on a baking tray that has been lined with baking parchment.
  9. Bake until they are golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  10. Remove from tray and leave to cool. When completely cold cover with white royal icing.

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Mix the margarine with the sugar in a bowl, until the sugar melts. Add the eggs and the vanilla essence. Combine the baking powder and the lemon rind and add to the mixture, bit by bit. Mix well to form a pastry dough.

How to prepare the filling

Mix the ground almonds, sugar and lemon rind. Whisk the egg whites and add the vanilla essence. Combine and mix this with the almonds, sugar and lemon rind mixture.

Roll out the pastry thinly and cut out several 15 cms X 10.5 cms rectangles.

Take spoonfuls of the almond filling and place down the middle of the pastry rectangles. Dampen the edges with water. Roll the pastry and form into wide strips. Close the edges and shape the edges (or try to) into legs bones! :) This is where the name of this recipe comes from. The cookies should end up looking like legs bones.

Put a baking sheet in the baking tray and place the “bones” in the tray. Do not put them too close to each other. Bake in a moderate oven for some 15 to 20 minutes.

Leave to cool before you decorate with icing sugar.

Decorating the Dead Men’s Bones

Melt the icing sugar in some water. (The texture has to be a bit thick.) Spread and paste the mixture on top of the bones.

And that's it! We hope that you will try our tasty almond cookies recipe from the fascinating island of Malta :)


A delicious sweet tradionally made during November in Malta. They are basically almond filled pastries shaped liked bones.

(for pastry)
170g sugar
250g margarine
500g flour
2 eggs
some lemon rind
few drops vanilla essence

(for filling)
200g ground almonds
200g sugar
2 egg whites
some lemon rind
few drops vanilla essence

(for topping)
180g icing sugar
some water

Prepare pastry by rubbing margarine into flour till it resembles breadcrumbs. Add sugar, vanilla essence and the rind. Combine the mixture into a dough adding a few drops of water if necessary.
To make the filling, add the sugar and lemon rind to the ground almonds. Then whisk the egg whites, add vanilla and mix into the almonds and sugar.
Roll out the pastry and cut out rectangular shapes approximately 10cms by 14 cms. Place some of the filling down the centre of the pastries, moisten the edges with water and close the pastry into a strip. Shapen the pastry by squeezing the centre part and shaping the edges to make it look like a bone.
Place the *bones" on a baking sheet and bake for around 15 mins in a moderate oven. Allow to cool and decorate with some icing sugar mixed with water.

Octopus Stew – Stuffat tal-qarnit

Every time my family had either bought an octopus or my dad managed to get one somehow when he went fishing, this is what we made. Maltese octopus stew. A stew made with Mediterranean staples – onions and garlic, tomatoes, olives, capers and wine.

We didn’t have octopus stew very often in our house but it was a real occasion when we did. It was only now and again that my dad would bring one home when he went fishing and I am not sure how he managed to catch it. I think it was always tangled in his line by accident. In Malta octopus are caught by spear fishing. Every time octopus would get mentioned in my family the stories of the great octopus catches would start flooding. We new of octopus being caught in Malta in Gnejna Bay or the beaches close by.

I made this octopus stew in a tomato sauce. When my family made this stew, potatoes were also added to make a one pot meal. I have done this in the past but have decided going forward that I won’t. I prefer to eat the stew with roast potatoes. The other options are to eat the stew with crusty bread, or how my girls will be eating their stew tonight, with pasta.

Ask your fish monger to clean your octopus for you as it saves you doing it at home as well as avoiding the mess. Before cooking your octopus you should tenderise the octopus with a mallet or rolling pin. It also helps to tenderise your octopus by freezing it first. Leave out to defrost for a few hours, tenderise with a mallet or rolling pin and then cook as per the instructions.

Type of Almonds ( Lewza)

In our Safi Fields, I manage to collect the last sorces of Maltese Almonds ( lewza). These almonds are from the mission famliy. It would be tasted better if these almonds are roasted. I will ask my wife to do some of these almonds roasted. Meanwhile some knowledge may help us to understand the life of an almond. In Maltese is't called a Lewza.

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This classification includes a number of varieties that are blanchable and used primarily in manufactured products. California-type almonds have a wide range of shell hardness, kernel shapes, skin color, and surface characteristics. As a result, they are quite adaptable and well suited for nearly any process or application.

Mission almonds have hard shells, and their kernels are small, wide, and often plump. The kernel skin is generally darker than Nonpareil and wrinkled, which enhances salt and flavor adherence. Blanching is not as common for this type.

Major California Almond Varieties
It is possible to order California Almonds either based on the broad classification type or specific varieties. It is recommended to be very specific on either the specific variety or classification preferred when placing orders to ensure delivery of the exact almonds you intended. For example, ordering “Mission” without specifying “Mission Variety” could result in delivery of various almonds that fall under the “Mission Classification,” such as the Butte, Padre, or Fritz varieties.

On the 1st and 2nd of November, the Maltese people celebrate the feasts of All saints and All souls.
This is a time to remember the loved ones who have now passed away. This remembering goes on throughout the whole of November. These two days are school holidays and so kids do not go to school.

A cute but creepy sounding Maltese tradition is to bake Ghadam tal-Mejtin during this time. Ghadam tal-Mejtin literally means dead men’s bones!
Although creepy sounding, these are nothing but yummy pastries :) These cookies or almond fingers are basically little bone-shaped pastries filled with ground almonds.
Not that widely available in the shops, these unusually shaped almond cookies are usually prepared at home and can be consumed throughout all of November.
There are many almond fingers recipes out there, but if you want to try something different from the norm, then try this unusual sounding recipe from the island of Malta.

Almond Cookies Recipe (Ghadam tal-Mejtin)


(For the pastry)
160 grms (or 5.64 oz) sugar240 grms (or 8.46 oz) margarine480 grms (or 1 lb and 0.93 oz) flour2 eggs (whisked) 1 teaspoon baking powderOne fourth of a teaspoon Vanilla essence1 lemon rind
(For the filling)
200 grms (or 7.05 oz) ground almonds200 grms (or 7.05 oz) sugar2 egg whitesVanilla Essence1 lemon rind
(For the decorating)
200 grms (or 7.05 oz) icing sugarWater

How to make the pastry

Mix the margarine with the sugar in a bowl, until the sugar melts. Add the eggs and the vanilla essence. Combine the baking powder and the lemon rind and add to the mixture, bit by bit. Mix well to form a pastry dough.

How to prepare the filling

Mix the ground almonds, sugar and lemon rind. Whisk the egg whites and add the vanilla essence. Combine and mix this with the almonds, sugar and lemon rind mixture.

How to make the "bones"

Roll out the pastry thinly and cut out several 15 cms X 10.5 cms rectangles.
Take spoonfuls of the almond filling and place down the middle of the pastry rectangles. Dampen the edges with water. Roll the pastry and form into wide strips. Close the edges and shape the edges (or try to) into legs bones! :) This is where the name of this recipe comes from. The cookies should end up looking like legs bones.

Baking Procedure

Put a baking sheet in the baking tray and place the “bones” in the tray. Do not put them too close to each other. Bake in a moderate oven for some 15 to 20 minutes.
Leave to cool before you decorate with icing sugar.

Malta – Għadam tal-mejtin

This week, the smallest EU state, and one of the most densely populated, Malta. Malta has more than 365 churches, so you can pray in a different church every day of the year if you want. I mention this because għadam tal-mejtin are traditionally made for All Souls’ Day, which is at the beginning of November (similar to Day of the Dead). I have some quite distant Maltese heritage (my great-great-grandfather was Maltese, before moving to Guyana), and so it’s nice to be able to explore this country that I know very little about despite my distant links to it. Also, għadam tal-mejtin are delicious, and have inspired some thoughts about similarly filled biscuits I can make for Christmas.

As for Brexit, well, it’s still going on. Theresa May has had her deal signed off by the EU, which I suppose is something at least. And now we wait to see if anyone in Parliament will actually vote for it. Unfortunately it seems that very few people want to vote for it, for a variety of reasons, all of which are likely to just send her back to the drawing board, or hopefully, potentially, get us a second vote. But even a good outcome on that isn’t guaranteed. It’s a terribly uncertain place we find ourselves in now.

This post is part of a series called ‘Brexit Baking’, where I bake my way around all 28 EU Member States. You can read more about it here.Għadam tal-mejtin (recipe from here)
400g plain flour
125g butter
300g sugar
1 egg
25ml milk
Juice of half a lemon
Vanilla essence
200g sugar
200g ground almonds
40ml water

1. Make the pastry by rubbing the butter and flour together until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Mix the sugar with the eggs and add the mixture above.

2. Add the lemon and the vanilla essence and knead it. Add the milk and knead it to an elastic dough.

3. For the filling put the sugar and the water on a low heat and when sugar melts add the almonds. Blend the mixture very well, and let it cool.

4. Roll out the pastry and cut out your shapes. Make two of each shape as they will be sandwiched with almond paste.

5. Lay the first shape on a greased and floured baking tray, spread with almond paste, leaving a small margin. Lay the second shape over the top and press the edges together. Wet the edges with a brush dipped in milk to ensure adhesion.

6. Bake at 180C/gas 4, for about 20 minutes, until pale golden. Cool on the tray before decorating.

7. When the bones are cold, coat with light royal icing. You can sprinkle the top with crushed almonds if you wish.

Popular Maltese dishes you want to try in Malta

1. Pastizzi

Before fast food came to Malta, a quick snack meant going to a Maltese bakery and grabbing a pastizz on the go.

Now, if you’re talking about heaven in a pastry, this Maltese food may be it. This delicious savory pastry with ricotta or mushy pea fillings is the Maltese street food that both locals and travelers clamor for.

Pastizzi are so popular in Malta that they have a local variation of the expression selling like hotcakes, which is inbiegħu bħall-pastizzi, or selling like pastizzi.

Needless to say, the pastizzi sell out fast, and like hotcakes, you better eat them fresh from the oven, as the dough has the best crunch when it’s still hot and crispy.

Malta also even has its own set of eateries called pastizzeria, which, you’ve guessed it, mainly serves the pastizzi, and the most famous one is located in Rabat, called the Crystal Palace.

Fun fact, this place is open almost 24/7 and used to cater to soldiers during the Second World War. Today, when things have become more peaceful, they mostly cater to old men, tourists who have pilgrimed to eat its world-famous pastizzi and famished students who go there after a night out.

2. Stuffat Tal-Fenek or rabbit stew

The rabbit stew, or stuffat tal-fenek, as locals call it, is Malta’s unofficial national dish.

Rabbit stew is what locals love and foreigners want to try out when visiting the islands.

This Maltese food is served in two main ways, either stewed with rich, tomato-based gravy sauce or fried. When stewed, the rabbit meat becomes incredibly tender from its 2-hour slow cooking process.


When we think of traditional Maltese food, one of the first items that comes to mind is always ɻigilla'. This popular dip, made of mashed tic beans, or ɿul ta' Ġirba', is usually accompanied by the equally traditional 'galletti', or water biscuits. What most people don’t realise is that ɻigilla' was once traditionally consumed at funerals, even if this connotation has been lost over time.

Indeed, beans have long been associated with death and the afterlife, both in Maltese and other cultures. Despite being one of the first cultivated crops in history, many civilisations had mixed feelings about them. In ancient Rome for example, priests of Jupiter could not touch, or even mention beans, due to their association with death and decay. There was the belief that beans could contain the souls of the dead, which is why they also featured in the annual festival known as the Lemuria. It was believed that on the Lemuria, the spirits of the dead emerged from their graves and visited the homes in which they had lived. It was thus necessary to confront them and lure them back out of the house during a night-time ritual which included throwing beans over one’s shoulder while reciting incantations, as a representation of casting out the spirits. [7]

In Malta, Agius de Soldanis writes that “these cooked beans, or Beghilla, was distributed to the poor who accompanied the deceased to the Church”. [6]

The association between beans and sombre rituals still exists in some places to this day they give name to the ⟺ve dei morti', popularly eaten in some parts of Italy on All Souls’ Day. The name of these biscuits made in the shape of beans - though not out of them - literally translates to "beans of the dead".

Fenkata. Maltese traditional men's night out. with bunnies!

The recipe is simple, fix a day at least three months before. Start sending as many emails and smses, (as much as you can afford timewise) and just hope that at least ten friends turn up due to other commitments that funnily enough always pop up around that day.

One of the funniest answers I received this time was that “I’m sorry Chal, but I’ll have the painter coming in that day so I will not be able to do it.” The Fenkata happens after eight in the evening and keeping in mind how hard working the local painters are I have trouble driving at night since all roads are usually jam-packed with ladders with men dressed in white dungarees all painting in the middle of the night.

So once I get the idea of how many people will turn up (usually a couple of days before) I book a table at our favourite snack bar in Zebbiegh which is called the Farmer’s Restaurant for what the locals call a Fenkata (A night in a plain, simple and clean workmen snack bar eating a local delicacy which is rabbit to one’s heart content)

The menu is simple. In our case we were ten so I asked the bar owner for four rabbits when I was making the booking. Two were fried in olive oil with lots of garlic and onions and the other two were stewed in wine and tomato sauce.

The night usually starts out with lots of drinks at the bar counter while eating some appetizers like water biscuits(galletti) with hard cheese and hams, bruschetta and the so famous hobz biz-zejt (bite sizes of local fresh bread served with tomato paste on top, onions, garlic and olive oil)

Every one opted for the Spaghetti as starter, which is served with the sauce made from the rabbit stew and herbs and spices. When everyone licked the sauce off the plate with fresh crusty local bread it was the turn of the main course. Four large bowls of succulent rabbit pieces, 4 large bowls of homemade chips and a massive dish of salad and other one with fresh vegetables. The bowls were moving hands and so were the lovely bottle of homemade red wine, in fact we had fourteen bottles of them between the ten of us.

Fag break for all the sickos who leave some dry leaves of tobacco take charge of of their life(luckily I quit my 60 a day habit three years ago). We were then served the traditional desert that is served after such a colossal meal which is dry cheeses the sweet ones and the peppered ones, peanuts and Helwa tat-tork (maltese halva) which goes down so well with the last few glasses of the wine (we don’t quit until the last drop) and guess what: all this for € 180, that is 󌍄 each so we had enough money to tip the young gentlemen who served us and the cook for providing us the food on which to feast.

This is the best way one can spend a fantastic evening with his mates and on the side are some pictures taken with my mobile when the alcohol was already making its way to my head, so excuse the quality of the pics of our last Fenkata!

Anybody for some wine…sort of?

A good glass of red wine is appreciated by many as an accompaniment to their meal. And wine is often used to add that special flavour to a recipe we are cooking. However, there’s a new wine product on the market which comes neither in a bottle nor in a carton, but in a bag. It’s called wine flour.

Wine flour is made by taking grape skins and seeds (called pomace in the wine-making industry), drying and sifting them, and then milling them until they are incredibly fine. The resulting flour offers many of the healthy components that researchers have discovered in red wine, such as the anti-oxidant resveratrol. It is also rich in iron, calcium and fibre, and is a good source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Food technologists and recipe developers claim that wine flour has no impact on a product’s texture when used in calculated amounts. However, it does have a significant effect on taste and colour. Of note is the deep burgundy hue it gives to products and dishes to which it is added.

Wine flour is already being used or trialled in foods such as breads, crackers, bagels, muffins, cereal bars, pasta, as well as protein beverages or tea. Restaurant menus in the USA and Canada list items such as Cabernet pizza dough, Purple-hued Fettuccine with Baby Octopus, Olives and Tomatoes and Cabernet Chocolate Lava Cake, to name a few.

I have not come across wine flour or wine flour products in Malta yet, but would not mind tasting any of them given the above menu items. Of course, the sustainability aspect and health value of wine flour are noteworthy as well. What do you think?

Watch the video: Υαλουρονικό απο κόκκαλα στο Σπίτι με χύτρα-Bone hyaluronate in the House with kettleStella LoveCook


  1. Winfrith

    Ohhh, I will cram new talent

  2. Renne

    Yeah, got caught!

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