Malta, the beautiful Mediterranean archipelago, is not only known for its rich history, stunning beaches, and vibrant culture but also for its delicious and unique local cuisine. Influenced by the various civilizations that have inhabited the islands throughout history, Maltese cuisine is a delightful fusion of Mediterranean flavors with a distinct Maltese twist. From hearty stews to mouthwatering pastries, Malta’s local food is a culinary journey not to be missed.
A true Maltese culinary icon, pastizzi are savory pastries filled with either ricotta cheese or mushy peas. These flaky, diamond-shaped pastries are a popular street food and a beloved snack among locals. The combination of crispy pastry and creamy, flavorful fillings makes pastizzi an absolute must-try when visiting Malta.
Fenek Moqli (Fried Rabbit)
Rabbit is a staple in Maltese cuisine, and Fenek Moqli is a traditional dish that showcases the island’s love for this tender meat. Marinated in wine, garlic, and herbs, the rabbit is fried until golden and served with crispy potatoes. It’s a dish that perfectly captures the rustic flavors of Malta.
A hearty pasta dish with Arabic influences, it is a baked pasta pie that will satisfy any comfort food cravings. The pasta is cooked with a rich tomato sauce mixed with minced meat, eggs, and sometimes vegetables. Topped with a layer of crispy pastry, it is an authentic taste of Maltese home cooking.
Bragioli is a traditional Maltese dish consisting of thin slices of beef rolled up and stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs, bacon, parsley, garlic, and sometimes even a hard-boiled egg. These rolls are then simmered in a rich tomato sauce until the meat is tender and the flavors meld together. It is often served with roasted potatoes or pasta, making it a hearty and comforting meal.
Imqaret, meaning “diamond-shaped” in Maltese, is a traditional sweet treat popular all over the islands. These diamond-shaped pastries are made by filling a pastry shell with dates, orange zest, and spices. The pastries are then deep-fried until golden brown and dusted with powdered sugar. It is best enjoyed warmly and is a delightful indulgence for those with a sweet tooth.
Gbejniet are small round cheeselets made from sheep’s milk, an essential part of Maltese dairy products. These cheeses can be enjoyed fresh, with a soft and mild flavor, or dried and aged for a more pungent taste. Gbejniet are often served as an appetizer or added to salads and pasta dishes to provide a unique Maltese twist.
Helwa tat-Tork, meaning “Turkish sweet” in Maltese, is a traditional nougat-like sweet made with honey, nuts, and sugar. It has a dense and chewy texture, and the flavors vary depending on the type of nuts used, such as almonds or pistachios. It is often served during festive occasions or as a special treat for guests.
Bigilla is a traditional Maltese dip made from mashed fava beans, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. It has a smooth and creamy texture with a hint of tanginess. It is often enjoyed as a spread on crusty bread or as a dip for fresh vegetables. Not only that, but it is a popular appetizer and a staple in Maltese cuisine, showcasing locally grown ingredients.
Ross il-Forn (Baked Rice)
Ross il-Forn is a hearty and flavorful baked rice dish that combines rice, minced meat, tomato sauce, peas, and various herbs and spices. The ingredients are layered in a baking dish, topped with grated cheese, and baked until the cheese is melted and golden brown. It is a comforting and satisfying meal, perfect for sharing with family and friends.
Qassatat are small pastries that come in various shapes and sizes and are filled with different ingredients. The most popular fillings include spinach and ricotta cheese or peas and anchovies. Qassatat are often served as appetizers or enjoyed as a light snack. Their flaky pastry and delicious fillings make them a popular choice among locals and visitors alike.
Soppa tal-Armla (Maltese Widow’s Soup)
Soppa tal-Armla is a traditional Maltese vegetable soup that gets its name from its humble origins as a dish commonly prepared by widows. This hearty soup is made with a variety of seasonal vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, peas, and cabbage, simmered in a flavorful broth. It is a comforting and nourishing soup that showcases the simplicity and wholesome nature of Maltese cuisine.
Ftira Ghawdxija, also known as Gozitan ftira, is a specialty bread from the sister island of Gozo. It is a round and flat loaf with a soft and chewy interior and a crispy crust. Ftira Ghawdxija is often enjoyed as a sandwich, filled with various ingredients like local cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, capers, and fresh vegetables. It is a delicious and satisfying option for a quick meal or snack.
Kappunata is a traditional Maltese vegetable stew that showcases the island’s love for fresh produce. This hearty dish combines seasonal vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes, cooked with onions, garlic, herbs, and olive oil. It is a vibrant and flavorful stew that can be enjoyed as a main course or a side dish, complementing any meal with its wholesome goodness.
Torta tal-Lampuki, or Lampuki pie, is a savory pie that celebrates the abundance of lampuki fish during its peak season. The pie features a filling made with lampuki fish, along with onions, garlic, tomatoes, capers, olives, and herbs. The filling is encased in a flaky pastry crust and baked to perfection. It is a delicious and popular dish, highlighting the island’s connection to its coastal waters and fresh seafood.
Kannoli is a beloved Maltese dessert that traces its origins to Sicily. These sweet treats consist of crisp, deep-fried pastry shells filled with creamy ricotta cheese. The ricotta filling is often flavored with orange blossom water, vanilla, or chocolate chips. It is a delightful indulgence, and its combination of crunchy shells and luscious filling makes it a favorite dessert among locals and visitors alike.
Aljotta is a traditional Maltese fish soup that captures the essence of the Mediterranean. This hearty and flavorful soup is made with fresh fish, usually, rockfish or grouper, cooked with onions, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, and spices. It is often served with crusty bread and a drizzle of olive oil. It is a comforting and nourishing dish that showcases the island’s affinity for seafood and its close relationship with the sea.
Malta’s local food is a treasure trove of flavors and culinary traditions that reflect the island’s rich history and cultural influences. From savory dishes like Bigilla, Ross il-Forn, and Qassatat to comforting soups like Soppa tal-Armla, each bite tells a story of Malta’s unique gastronomic heritage. And let’s not forget the delightful sweets like Helwa tat-Tork and Imqaret that add a touch of indulgence to the culinary journey.
Exploring the local food of Malta is an essential part of experiencing the island’s vibrant culture and warm hospitality. So, embrace the flavors, savor the tastes, and embark on a culinary adventure that will leave you with lasting memories of Malta’s delightful cuisine.
You may also visit the Amazing Coffee Shops In Malta for more fun while staying in Malta.