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This traditional Imbuljuta tal-Qastan recipe will instantly make your 12 days of Christmas magical!

Imbuljuta tal-Qastan recipe | Whether you are planning on entertaining or simply need a warm drink, this traditional Imbuljuta tal-Qastan recipe is a must-have.

It is Christmas! As Cliff Richard used to say when joyfully singing on Top of the Pops, it is a time for living, a time for believing. This year we’re not only celebrating the Christmas season but also the end of what was, to say the least, a challenging year!


So, whilst sitting around your Christmas tree, waiting to open up those presents, how about enjoying a warm mug of ‘Imbuljuta’? Yes? Ok, keep reading then and let Sam Cooks show you the way.

The traditional ‘Imbuljuta tal-Qastan’, to quote the full name, is a Maltese-style hot chocolate full of home-warming spirit, traditionally served on Christmas Eve. It is something we look forward to every year, as much as we love our Christmas breakfasts! (you can check our review of the Christmas breakfast we had at Crust, in case you are curious).


The proper English name for this drink is ‘chestnut and cocoa soup’, but let’s face it, it doesn’t really feel like soup. It reminds me more of a dense hot chocolate, so I always make sure to serve mine in mugs, wrapping my hands around it to enjoy it’s warmth.

We, Maltese, love Christmas traditions. The Imbuljuta tal-Qastan is a traditional Maltese drink, normally associated with Christmas. If you want to know more about traditional Maltese food, have a look here. Meantime, it’s the festive season, and that normally means getting together and be jolly! If you are planning on entertaining guests and creating special moments with your loved ones this festive season, this recipe is a must-have.


Chestnuts are the main ingredient here, soaked overnight. Added to the rest of the ingredients we’re giving you below, the combination of citrus and spices creates the perfect aroma. Trust us, your home will immediately smell like Christmas, and everything will be better!

Be a little patient. Put aside those thoughts of using some sachet of hot chocolate full of saccharine! Give the process a bit of love, and we promise it will be worth the wait. Boil the mixture on medium heat, stirring occasionally. The traditional ‘Imbuljuta tal-Qastan’ is a heart-warming beverage for everyone but for those of you who want to add some kick and move on to being more naughty than nice, we’ve got you!


If you feel you need that bit of extra fortification, go ahead and add that extra tot of Coffee liquor, whisky, rum, baileys. All of these options go very well with your Imbuljuta tal Qastan. So go ahead and reward yourself (responsibly). You definitely deserved it. Happy Christmas everyone!



  • 2 cups (350g) dried peeled chestnuts

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 1 cup cocoa powder

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 6 cloves

  • 1.5 litre of water

  • 1 tsp mixed spice

  • ½ tsp cinnamon

  • ½ tsp nutmeg

  • ½ tsp ground cloves

  • rind or zest of 1 mandarin

  • rind or zest of 1 orange

  • 1 tbsp of cornstarch dissolved in 1/8 cup of cold water

  • 3 tbsp of Coffee liquor/whisk(e)y/rum/Baileys (optional for an adult-only version)


  1. Soak chestnuts overnight.

  2. Drain the chestnuts and add to a pot together with all of the ingredients, excluding the cornflour mixture. Stir well.

  3. Bring to boil and simmer for about 1 hour.

  4. Break the chestnuts into smaller pieces with a spoon, leaving a chunky texture to your beverage.

  5. Add in the cornstarch mixture and stir well until combined.

  6. Serve in a bowl or mug and garnish with orange zest or rind.


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