Malta is an island nation located right in the Mediterranean between North Africa and Sicily, both of which have had a serious impact on the country’s cuisine. Malta has been through years of colonization and trade, which impacted Maltese cuisine throughout many years. Food in Malta is a fascinating combination of local ingredients, Italian influence, North African influence, and even a bit of British touches in there. Since it is an island, of course you can expect lots of fresh seafood, lots of hearty stews, and delicious desserts. Here are some of the highlights of Maltese cuisine.
Staples of Maltese Cuisine
Maltese cuisine is rooted in locally sourced ingredients including seafood, vegetables, game, and also grains. Bread is commonly eaten here, with the favorite being ftira, a leavened flatbread that is often filled with sardines, tuna, potatoes, tomatoes, olives, and capers.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that seafood is commonly found here since its coastal location. Fresh fish that you’ll find here includes lampuki (also known as dorado), tuna, and swordfish. They’re typically grilled or fried. Another classic Maltese dish is Aljotta, which is a fish soup dish flavored with tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.
Pastries and Snacks
When you’re in the mood for a snack, you can enjoy Pastizzi, which are delicious flaky pastries usually filled with mushy peas or ricotta. You’ll find these at many stands all around, and they’re a delicious and affordable snack that’s quite affordable. As for local drinks, you can enjoy Kinnie, a soda that’s sweet and slightly bitter thanks to the bitter orange that it is made from. It is similar to chinotto, which can be found throughout southern Italy.
Rabbit, A Maltese Delicacy
If you really want to dive right into Maltese cuisine, then you’re going to have to try fenek, which is rabbit. The traditional dish is called Stuffat Tal-Fenek, which is a slow cooked dish consisting of rabbit braised in red wine, tomato paste, garlic, and potato. It’s rich and delicious and is best enjoyed alongside Cisk, a classic Maltese beer.
Hearty Stews and Pies
Maltese cuisine features many stews and pies, one of which is the Torta tal-Lampuki, which is lampuki fish pie. It’s made with the local fish and often adorned with dough shaped like fish on top. Another favorite fish is Stuffat Tal-Qarnit, which is similar to the rabbit stew but made with octopus instead.
Sweets and Desserts
To satisfy your sweet tooth, try Qubbajt, a nougat made with almonds and honey, or Biskuttini tar-Rahal, meaning village biscuit, which is made with citrus zest and spices. Maltese honey and figs also feature prominently in many dessert recipes, like qaghaq ta’l-ghasel, which are honey rings that are traditionally made for Christmas.