Keeping with a Good Friday Maltese tradition: Qassatat filled with spinach and herrings.

An old Good Friday tradition is “qassatat” (plural of the Maltese word qassata) filled with peas, spinach, olives, onions, garlic and salted fish. The term “qassata” is Arabic. In turn, it is highly probable that the Arabs borrowed the word qaššāṭah قشاطة, meaning “bowl” from Latin. The Latin term caseāta means a “cheese concoction”.

In Malta, this term is used in reference to a dough, which is filled with ricotta (a type of cheese) or spinach and peas, anchovies or herrings. I prefer to fill them with herrings (in Maltese aringi). The recipe of the dough dates back to my great grandfather who was a baker. He was originally from Zejtun but he opened a bakery in Cospicua and eventually moved to Paola where he opened his next bakery.

My grandmother, who is the daughter of Antonio Zammit, known as L-Ewliemes (who was the baker) taught me how to close them and also gave me the recipe. The tradition was that on Good Friday, these were filled with herring rather than with anchovies. The ones with anchovies were normally consumed on Wednesdays, Fridays and in the case of our family, even Saturdays. These were the days during which we did not normally eat meat.

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