2-4 as a starter or part of a meze

Crispy Cheeselets with Sticky Figs & Sesame Seeds

From Ainsley’s Taste of Malta, ITV

Coated fried cheese is a popular dish across the Levant and Mediterranean and fried local ġbejniet cheese served with chutneys or salads can be found on most Maltese menus. Gbejniet (which translates as cheeselets) are traditionally made from sheep or goat’s milk and sold fresh and soft like ricotta or dried and cured with a nuttier taste and crumblier texture. This is a tangy, sweet and sticky delight with luscious figs and the salty cheese – it’s great as a starter or part of a meze. If you don’t like goat’s cheese, try with halloumi or feta.


First make the sticky figs. Cut a cross into each fig from the stalk downwards about three-quarters of the way down. Gently squeeze a little to open up the figs and set aside. In a small skillet or frying pan heat the butter, vinegar and honey over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until well combined and sticky. Add the figs, cut-side up, sprinkle over a few thyme leaves and cook for 2-3 minutes, spooning the syrup over the figs from time to time. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

Cut each gbejna in half horizontally down the middle. Put the seasoned flour on a plate, the beaten egg in a shallow bowl and on a large plate mix together the sesame seeds, thyme and polenta. Dip the cheese into the flour to coat, then in the egg and then into the polenta, patting down so that it sticks and coats the cheese. If you like, repeat the egg and polenta stages to double coat.

In a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat the oil and then fry the cheeselets for 2-3 on one side before carefully turning and cooking the other side for 1-2 minutes until golden.

Serve the cheese fritters immediately with the warm sticky figs, a good drizzle of the sticky sauce and sesame seeds, mint and thyme leaves for garnish.



  • For the Sticky Figs
  • 4-8 fresh figs, depending on size
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp runny honey (preferably thyme honey)
  • small sprig of thyme, leaves picked, plus extra soft sprigs for garnish
  • For the Crispy Cheeselets
  • 2 semi-dried gbejna (gbejna bajda) or 4-8 slices of goat’s cheese
  • 3-4 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp sesame seeds, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 3-4 tbsp fine polenta/ fine semolina
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • small mint leaves, to garnish