When it comes to a taste of home, the little green qarabaghla (courgette) is right up there with Kinnie, Twistees and the Maltese hobza.

Sure, courgettes don't grow just on our islands, but somehow it seems that in Malta they grow in over-abundance almost all year round. If you've been away for a while, nothing makes you appreciate the fact you're back than the sight of boxes of qarabaghli stacked at the back of a vegetable hawker's truck. It's also the first Maltese words most expats living here, learn to utter so much is the constant exposure to it.

Funnily enough the qarabaghla is christened differently all over the English speaking world. It's called courgette, from its French nomenclature, in the UK and New Zealand. However in America and Australia it's known as zucchini, from its Italian name. In cookery books you sometimes find it as baby marrow or summer squash. Perhaps to avoid the mind from boggling, we should all just refer to it by its Latin name ‘cucurbita pepo'.

There's also a wide variety of courgettes to choose from: they can be yellow or green, long and straight like a cucumber or round like a melon or even bottle shaped. The Maltese favourite is the round courgette - the size of a tennis ball.

It's stuffed and cooked either in broth or baked in the oven.

In this week's Taste of Home feature, chef Mark Triganza, gives us a step by step guide of the typical Maltese courgettes stuffed with meat.

Really we should all be preparing this more often: courgettes are incredibly healthy - they're full of vitamins A and C, folic acid and potassium. They are also very low in calories. Long live the qarabaghla.

Qarabaghli Mimli

Courgettes stuffed with meat

Serves 4

Preparation and cooking time: 60 min


4 large round courgettes

1 onion chopped

Olive oil

2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped

600g minced beef

Grated parmesan

Salt and pepper

Bread crumbs

Vegetarian alternative: use ricotta instead of meat

Serving suggestions: serve on a bed of potatoes


Cut the courgettes in half and scoop out the insides with a spoon. Put the pulp on the side to be used at a later stage. Fry the onion in the oil until soft and brown. Add the tomatoes and then the beef. Cook until the beef is done. Then stir in the pulp of the courgettes and allow the mixture to cool. When cool add the eggs and the grated parmesan to the mixture and season to taste. Fill the courgette halves with the mixture then sprinkle the top with bread crumbs. Place courgette halves in a slightly oiled baking dish and top up dish with water. Bake at 200C for half an hour or until browned on top.

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