Dear readers, being away from home for over 5 months now, you start missing on the most traditional of food even though when you are actually home you rarely eat them. So while dream about some of the most
Although a very small island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, Malta overflows with culture, richness and history. Its cuisine is for sure not lacking in flavour and character, and quite distinct. Influenced by the European countries on top of it and the rich aromas and spices from the north African countries below it, the Maltese kitchen will invite you to go inside while walking on the streets to flavour its
So here they are, 10 top foods that any tourist who visits this lovely island should try at least once. One will not be disappointed for sure!
1. The Famous Pastizzi
Pastizzi, they are purely Maltese, and in this big world of ours, one can only find them on that small dot on the world map! The little Pastizzi kiosks can easily be found scattered all around the island, with each town having at least a minimum of one shop that sells these delicacies. In the more busy towns, one can actually find 5 or more at a stretch in one main road. Seems like theses Pastizzi are too special! They are actually the most common Maltese fast food, even more than the modern fast food chains that are opening now and very cheap as well. Super tasty!
A particular type of traditional, flaky, puff pastry is formed in a diamond shape and filled with fresh ricotta or spiced pea mixture and served hot. Nowadays new flavours are emerging like Chicken Pastizzi and Nutella Pastizzi, but if one wants to eat like a traditional Maltese, the first two are surely a must try.
2. The Unique Ħobża biż-Żejt
Literally translated as bread with oil. Malta is famous for its unique traditional loaf bread, that is very difficult to imitate. A staple on the table with any meal! A crunchy crust but very light and fluffy, filled with air pockets on the inside. It’s that one food item that any Maltese living abroad misses, as it has nothing to do with any kind of white bread you buy from any market.
If still hot and fresh from the bakery, why not try it with some salted butter, super yummy! But the best, tasty way to eat it is by making some ħobż biż-żejt. Just grab a fresh crunchy piece, put on some fresh tomatoes or even better, some traditional Maltese Kunserva (salty sundried tomato paste), fresh olive oil, and season with various toppings such as tuna, olives, fresh mint, and capers. The most perfect and traditional picnic lunch to take with you on the beach, nothing better after a good swim!
A similar snack is the Ftira biż-żejt, which is commonly eaten in a similar way and usually served as a kind of sandwich with the above same ingredients. Usually, this is the type of ħobż biż-żejt that one can find ready to eat from the kiosks if not wanting to prepare his own.
3. Bebbux (Snails)
Snails, a very traditional dish you will find in any typical Maltese restaurant. A complicated process to cook, taking hours to simmer in a most flavoursome traditional sauce, then served with aioli dip and Maltese gallett (traditional water biscuits). Usually served with other Maltese delicacies as a starter. A perfect appetizer to start a tummy filling traditional Maltese meal.
4. Stuffat tal-Fenek
In English, Rabbit Stew. Although it might be a bit shocking to some foreigners, as they only see the rabbit as a pet, for Maltese, rabbits are mainly bred for food. Indeed a very common dish in Malta even as a weekly family meal. One can find this delicious plate in every traditional Maltese restaurant and usually its easy to come across big groups organising a ‘fenkata’, literally meaning a rabbit meal, that is for everyone. The rabbit dish is mainly cooked and served in two ways. The first choice would be the proper stew, where the rabbit meat is simmered for hours in spice and herb-infused sauce than served with spaghetti, or sometimes just as a stew with Maltese bread. The second option, as popular as the first one, is when the rabbit is cooked in a garlic, oil and wine gravy, then served with homemade roasted potatoes or fries. To finish, a piece of fresh, crunchy, Maltese bread to dip in the sauce and wipe the plate clean! Now that sounds like a good plate!
Traditional Maltese cheeselets, made from sheeps’ milk, although nowadays one can find even those made from cows’ milk. One can find them fresh, where they are very soft, creamy-like and more blend in flavour, or the more traditional dried cheeselets which are dried, harder in texture, and have a much more robust taste. Also, they come in 3 flavours, plain or seasoned with peppers or herbs. The ġbejniet are usually of the main ingredients served on a Maltese platter.
Now here one must be warned, this would be a strange dish to many! This fancy, filling dish consists mainly of Macaroni pasta with a tomato and beef sauce. But that would be Italian! So to make it Maltese, grab some pie pastry, mix some eggs, cream and cheese to the pasta, and make some sort of pasta pie, then bake in the oven! Strange, but super good and crunchy… and definitely covers the carbs portion of the day!
7. Torta tal-Lampuki
Speaking about pies, the most traditional and tasteful pie in Malta would surely be the famous Lampuki (fish) Pie. Oh no, not just any common fish pie! The Lampuka is a type of dolphin fish, also referred to as mahi-mahi.
The Maltese Lampuki Pie is an iconic plate to this little island. A rich filling, filled with herbs and vegetables, influenced from Malta’s past rich history, especially when it was under the Knights of St. John who provided access to such aromatic ingredients, and also reflecting one of Malta’s major industries, fishing.
One must note that the Lampuki season is just a short 3 months season before winter kicks in, so the Lampuki fish is very special! A must try if one visits during Autumn, as it provides one of the richest flavours in one bite! Possibly found also during the rest of the year but obviously being frozen, although still worth a bite!
After a filling, flavour-rich lunch, anyone would love some dessert. Although Maltese cuisine, in general, is mainly savoury, Maltese desserts are only as good as the other main food!
The most famous of all are the Imqaret! Pastry pieces filled with a mixture of dates paste, seasoned with citrus zest and juice, then fried, and topped with some icing sugar! Their aromatic smell just guides you towards the stall or kitchen where they are being cooked and one will not be able to resist!
Want an even better experience? Try them out in a traditional restaurant, served hot, with a scoop of traditionally spiced ice-cream known as Ġelat tan-nanna (grandma’s ice cream). Simply mouthwatering!
9. Qagħaq tal-Għasel
The very famous traditional sweets usually served for tea time, and original for Christmas time. The famous Maltese honey (għasel) rings, with actually no honey in them! Another type of pastry filled with aromatic citrus-spiced black treacle paste and formed in the shape of a ring, then baked. These sweets are most common during winter time, especially homemade ones, although one can easily find them all year round nowadays.
10. Torta tal-Marmurat
Now a rare to find traditional, old dessert which was commonly baked for celebrations, especially as a wedding cake in the olden days. It is a type of dessert pie with almond and chocolate filling spiced, and seasoned with citrus peel. Nowadays the traditional Almond pie or Almond cake is much more popular both as a treat and also when it comes to celebration cakes. However, the ‘Torta tal-Marmurat’ deserves a try and it is actually a pity that not many locals know how to bake it. To try it out, one must visit a good traditional local restaurant or find a nice Maltese local who is willing to bake one and share a piece with a cup of tea!