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Qarabaghli Mimli - Stuffed Marrows

Mona Farrugia cooks up a traditional storm with these qarabaghli mimlijin - as they cook your house will fill up with the aroma of Malta.

 
Qarabaghli Mimli - Stuffed Marrows
Qarabaghli Mimli - Stuffed Marrows
Qarabaghli Mimli - Stuffed Marrows
Qarabaghli Mimli - Stuffed Marrows
Qarabaghli Mimli - Stuffed Marrows
Qarabaghli Mimli - Stuffed Marrows

Information

Main Ingredient Marrows
Preparation Time 30 minutes
Cooking Time 1 hour
Course Main
Recipe Serves 4
Recipe Type Traditional: Maltese
Ingredients
Zucchini are completely impractical for this recipe. The gbejniet can be subsituted with a mild, hard, grateable cheese: use 3 heaped tablespoons
Method

My mother makes the absolute best qarabaghli mimli. You have to understand that my mother reads this website religiously (it is her homepage) so you have to excuse me while I go resuscitate her. She's just fainted.

The reason is that we incessantly tease my mum about her awful cooking. Miskina! Aren't we horrible? It was The Bro who invented the process of saying 'Bon Appetit! - Good luck!' before we start eating her food. Miskina!

So, teasing aside, her stuffed marrows are the stuff of Sunday lunch home cooking dreams. Pity she does not make them more often: the marrow becomes wrinkly, the mince is moist and the corned beef lends a sweetness and a saltiness to the mix. She also uses gobon tal-hakk, which is kefalotyri, one of the most plasticky, factory-produced cheeses known to the Maltese fridge.

And that was exactly my issue with this thing. I refuse to eat something that comes from what remains of cows after they have made them into burgers, has had tons of e-numbers added to it, and com es in a funny-shaped can which needs its own key. Plus we never buy greek plastic cheese.

So, over the past years I have been experimenting: I wanted my mother's qarabaghli, same flavour, similar texture, same saltiness, same crunch, but without the added extras. So I brought in the Maltese sausage and the cheeselet. They worked fabulously.

I'm keeping my mum but I'm sharing the recipe. This is what I came up with. How do you make yours?

 

You need:

8 round marrows, not too large but not small either

500 grams finely minced beef and pork, or 500 grams lamb mince

2 good quality Maltese sausages, cut out of their skin, meat broken down with a fork

1 onion, chopped very small

3 cloves of garlic

1 large and 1 small cans of tomato polpa, good quality with no skins, making up 600 grams

2 eggs

2 gbejniet moxxi: Maltese goat's dry cheeselets, grated

1 gbejna moxxa, grated, for topping

 

Olive oil for frying

 

How:

  • Boil the marrows whole in water until the skin marks when you press it
  • Sautee the onion and garlic in the oil until they are transparent
  • Turn up the heat and add the mince and the sausages and cook fast until they become pale in colour. Switch the heat down to a gentle simmer so you do not dry it out.
  • Add the tomato polpa and some freshly ground pepper
  • Simmer
  • Meanwhile take the marrows out of the boiling water and let them cool. When they have, lob off the top so that you can hull out the inside of the marrow. Remove as many seeds as you can and chop up the inside. Add it to the mince mix and continue to simmer: there may be quite a bit of water and you need this to dry up as otherwise it will break your hulled marrow. You need to achieve a balance of a good amount of marrow skin but not too thick as it will not wrinkle in the oven if it is. Once it wrinkles you know it's sweet.
  • Add the 2 grated gbejniet to the mince mix and soon after, switch off the heat
  • Add the eggs and beat quickly so that you have a slick mix: shiny, but with cooked meat.
  • Start piling the mix into the marrows. Do not press the meat down as this will make it packed and dry: you need a little bit of aeration. The meat needs to be coming out of the marrow like a little hill
  • Then distribute a little of the grated gbejna on the top of each marrow: this is your crunch. We are aiming for it to be blackened by the time the marrows are done.
  • Bake in  the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes in a large dish (do not pack the marrows together) to which you have added an inch of water.

The traditional way is to add peeled and slice potato and sliced onion to the water .

Shopping Tips
I buy the gbejniet from the only guy who still makes unpasteurised ones. He is at the Farmer's Market in Ta' Qali. Check the labels.
 

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