Maltese food is renowned for being fresh and full of flavour. Discover our top 5 Maltese foods you must try on your next trip to Malta.
Maltese food is renowned for being fresh and full of flavour. Having lived in Malta for a few years now, I have come to appreciate the influences which Maltese cuisine has from other European and North African countries. However, Maltese dishes make use of the most readily available local ingredients, giving them a unique and distinctive flavour that you will not be able to find anywhere else. So book your flights to Malta and be sure to try these top 5 savoury Maltese foods on your next trip!
1. Ħobż biż-Żejt
Ħobż biż-żejt literally translates to 'bread with oil'. This traditional Maltese snack is popular among locals all year round, but especially during the summer months. Ħobż biż-żejt usually consists of a crusty sourdough bread known as ħobż tal-Malti or else a ftira, a disc-shaped, crusty and semi-flat bread with a hole in the middle. The bread is typically rubbed with fresh Maltese tomatoes or tomato paste. It is then drizzled with olive oil and filled with tuna, capers, onions, olives, garlic, sea salt and pepper. However, what the bread is filled with differs depending on each person's preferences.
2. Stuffat tal-Fenek
Stuffat tal-fenek, or rabbit stew, is one of the most popular ways to cook rabbit meat in Malta. The stew is cooked slowly, over around 2 hours, in order to bring out all the rich flavours. The stew is tomato-based, and includes readily available local vegetables such as onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, and of course lots of tasty Maltese tomatoes! Locals regularly enjoy a fenkata, or 'Maltese rabbit nights', where they come together to eat and celebrate. A fenkata would normally begin with a starter of Maltese water biscuits with bigilla, or mashed beans, followed by a plate of spaghetti with a rich rabbit sauce. This is followed by the main course, which is traditionally rabbit meat cooked with white wine and garlic, served with fried potatoes or chips. Finally, ħelwa tat-tork is served as a sweet dessert. This traditional sweet is made out of sugar, tahini and almonds.
3. Torta tal-Lampuki
Being an island surrounded by the sea, it makes perfect sense for the Maltese to use fish in a variety of their dishes. Torta tal-lampuki is a pie made out of the fish known as the 'mahi-mahi', or the common dolphinfish. These fish migrate past the Maltese islands from the end of August until around November. The fresh fish are caught early in the morning and are transported to the fish market in Valletta on weekdays. However, the fish caught on Sundays are sold in the fishing village of Marsaxlokk, on the south-east side of Malta. The freshly-caught lampuki are cooked with tomatoes, onions, olives, capers and spinach and placed in a puff-pastry before being baked in the oven.
Timpana is a baked macaroni dish. The macaroni are cooked in a sauce made with minced meat, tomatoes, onion, garlic and cheese. Some people opt to add bacon and hard-boiled egg to the sauce, with some going even further and adding chicken liver or calf brains to the recipe. The macaroni is then baked in a pastry case, resulting in a rich and filling pasta dish that leaves everyone asking for more!
Of course, you cannot visit Malta and not try one of the most popular snacks on the islands - pastizzi. These warm, savoury pastries are traditionally made out of filo pastry or puff pastry and are filled with either warm ricotta cheese 'tal-irkotta' or mushy peas 'tal-piżelli'. They are cheap, delicious and addictive, with pastizzerias found all over the island. Pastizzi are popular snacks at any time of day, all year round and taste great with a cold glass of Kinnie, Malta's own soft drink which has a bitter sweet taste. Pastizzi have become so popular in recent years that various cafes and restaurants in other countries, such as the UK, Australia and Canada have also started serving this delicious snack.
What Maltese food are you most looking forward to trying out on your next trip to Malta?
Author: Sabine Jung