Let’s face it, one of the main highlights of travelling is tasting authentic local food. Whether it is the favorite go-to street food or the traditional dish which narrates the history and culture, tasting and trying out the food completes your trip.
And just like any island destination, a holiday in Malta is not complete without having a bite on their scrumptious and tasty meals. So as you pack your bags for your Malta journey, make sure you allocate a decent portion of your budget to food. Here are the foods that you need to try when visiting Malta.
1. Stuffat Tal-Fenek (Rabbit stew)
The first thing that you must tick off of your food list is Malta’s national food. This savoury dish made out of rabbit meat is best served after simmering it for an hour and a half. It is served in a thick, hearty sauce made out of liver and kidney (politely check whether they are using liver & kidney in the dish, if you don’t like it), with a splash of red wine, and filled with vegetables, potatoes, and tomatoes.
There may be many renditions of this dish, with families from long ago adding a twist or a secret ingredient or two to make it their own. But Stuffat Tal-Fenek has been a staple among the locals, and it has been a must-try for those visiting Malta for the first time.
Be a bit daring and try out this traditional Maltese dish.
2. Pastizzi (traditional savoury pastry)
Light, cheesy, and delicious, the pastizzi is a favourite snack among Maltese. It is a local delicacy made out of glistening gold puff pastry and stuffed with ricotta cheese or mushed peas. Other versions of pastizzi are stuffed with onions and anchovies. Whichever your choice, it will easily be your favourite Maltese snack.
Since everyone loves it, the pastizzi is readily available to almost anywhere in Malta. But if you want to taste the best, the locals profess that the best pastizzi they have ever tasted come from Is-Serkin Crystal Palace Bar in Rabat. So grab a bite or two of pastizzi as you rummage through the cities of Malta.
3. Ħobż biż-żejt (open sandwich)
Want to enjoy the real taste of Mediterranean pastries? This crusty sourdough bread is topped with their local tomatoes and drizzled with some olive oil is a delectable treat. Literally, the word actually means ‘bread with oil’… Similar to the tomato bruschetta, this Maltese “open-faced sandwich” can also be enjoyed by a variety of toppings. Whether it is anchovies, tuna, sheep cheese, the Hobz biz-zejt will surely be a delight to munch on.
4. Lampuki (seafood)
Nota bene: when in Malta, do not miss out on the seafood. As the island is surrounded by the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, you can expect that Malta can only offer the freshest catch of the day. Lampuki, which is also known as dorado, has long been a staple dish in Malta. There are many innovative ways to cook Lampuki, but one of the most traditional cooking methods is to pan-sear it, living the sides a little blackened for some kick. Another favourite is to make the fish a pie filling.
Whichever way it is prepared, Lampuki dishes are something you definitely do not want to miss. Head down south to take a bite on this delicious traditional Maltese fish.
5. Kwareżimal (traditional Maltese biscuit)
Since almonds are one of the favourites of Maltese, you should take a bite of Kwarezimal. This traditional spongy cake made of orange rind and topped with almonds. It is a hit during the lent season. The traditional Kwarezimal is also vegan as it does not contain dairy or animal protein. So with that, this almond cake is an excellent food for anyone who is fasting during the lent.
Aside from Kwarezimal, there are also other tasty desserts that make use of almonds. Among these is the Biskuttini Tal-Lewz, or traditional almond cookies. These cookies are usually baked and served during the Christmas holidays or Easter, or just plain afternoon tea.
6. Bebbux (edible land snails)
What is a memorable trip without trying out exotic food? Although some cultures, like southern Europe, eat land snails, it may be a new thing for you to try. The snails re first cleansed by fasting. Home cooks usually cook these land snails by boiling it in salted water before tossing in tomatoes, garlic, and a variety of spices.
Bebbux is commonly served as an appetizer in most Maltese restaurants. You can also expect modern renditions on the Bebbux by using red or white wine. If you can take the daring in you a notch higher, there are other restaurants that offer snail dishes. The Bebbux il-Aljoli is a dish where the snail is smothered in aljoli sauce, which is primarily made out of day-old bread and biscuits.
7. Bragioli (Beef olives)
If you prefer hearty, thick, and rustic beef stews, the Bragioli is the Maltese take. And while it is also called as “beef olives,” there are no olives in the recipe. It is only called like that because Bragioli is prepared by stuffing the beef and somewhat resembling the shape of an olive. Nevertheless, despite the absence of olives in the ingredients, Bragioli is still a mouthwatering and delectable dish. The beef is served tender, thanks for at least two hours of being simmered in wine. The viand is best paired with mashed potatoes and pea.
For those who want to taste Bragioli or beef olives, many restaurants serve the beef stew dish. Cafe Jubilee in Valletta serves a traditionally cooked Bragioli. With its cosy atmosphere, you are sure to enjoy that food trip.
8. Imqaret (traditional Maltese sweets)
Those who have a sweet tooth must try Imqaret, a golden pastry stuffed with sweet fillings. These diamond-shaped pastries are also among the favourites of the locals, and with that, it is a guarantee that you will delight in it as well. Whether you like to try out the original with powdered sugar or with ice cream on top of it, Imqaret is sure to blow your tastebuds away. These Imqaret are readily available anywhere in Malta. If you are looking for a recommendation, you should try out Imqaret served at L’aroma at Tas-Sliema.
9. Gozitan Ftira (traditional flatbread)
If you are a big foodie, then obviously, pizza is a go-to for you. And if you are not much on the daring side and want to eat something familiar, then Gozitan Ftira is the traditional Maltese dish for you. Although somewhat similar to the pizza or the beautiful mosaic-esque focaccia, Gozitan Ftira uses bread dough instead of the pizza dough. Topped with anchovies, tuna, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, herbs, and spices, the Gozitan Ftira then slides into a firewood oven to bake.
As you go island hopping to Gozo, Malta’s sister island, you must try out Gozitan Ftira there. The island is home to many traditional bakeries that make Gozitan Ftira.
10. Patata il-Forn (Maltese Style Oven-Baked Potatoes)
Another traditional staple from Malta is this potato dish. The Patata il-Forn is usually served as a side dish. The potatoes are cut into thick wedges, where they are drizzled in olive oil, herbs, and spices. It is popped in the oven and baked until golden and crispy. There are innovative takes on the Patata il-Forn, and it is usually done so by adding more ingredient to elevate the taste. Diced onions, tomato paste, and other spices are added for a more flavourful kick. Either way, Patata il-Forn is best eaten as a side dish to hearty and savoury dishes.
11. Timpana (a baked pasta pie)
Mediterranean countries often boast of their sumptuous pasta dishes. You may have had your usual spaghetti at home, but don’t even dare miss out on the pasta dishes of the Mediterranean islands. And Malta’s Timpana, a casserole-cooked penne, is a must-try. Timpana is a dish cooked in a casserole with the pasta covered by puff pastry, and ingredients such as beef, bacon, onion, garlic, cheese, and tomatoes, stuffed in between, The sauce is made out of plump tomato puree doused with grated cheese and beaten eggs. For the best experience, you should eat Timpana with a refreshing, light salad on the side.
If you are looking for a delightful and authentic experience as you take a bite off of that timpana, locals and tourists love eating Timpana at Raffael. The restaurant with outdoor tables is somewhere along the lively and busy streets of St. Julian’s.
12. Pixxispad Mimli (Grilled swordfish)
Of course, it is mandatory to include more than one fish dish since we are talking about an island surrounded by the Mediterranean waters. Pixxispad, or the swordfish, is a favourite fish best served grilled. Most chefs marinate the fish in basil and fresh mint, adding a squeeze of lemon for a tangy taste. Others may opt pesto or white wine before searing it over the pan in olive oil. Pixxispad Mimli is best eaten when it is freshly cooked. It is not available the whole year-round, and if you are dying to taste Pixxispad Mimli, you better schedule your trip durinummertime.
13. Kinnie (Maltese soft drink)
Last but not least, a nice Maltese soft drink: Kinnie.
Tast & discover!
Want to add some other delicious maltese foods? Let me know in the comments!