If you are traveling to Malta, it is important to know what are the food in Malta that you should not miss. This small Mediterranean island, boasting some stunning beaches and lagoons, is also home to some of the most delicious food in the world.
With both sweet and savory Maltese food options, you can get a taste of everything that this beautiful country has to offer. So whether you are looking for a delicious snack or a hearty meal, Malta has something to cater to your taste.
What’s Special about Maltese Food?
Maltese food is a unique blend of Mediterranean and British influences. The island was ruled by the British for over 200 years, so you will find that many of the dishes have a distinctly British flair.
However, Malta is also located in the Mediterranean Sea, so you will find that the food has a healthy, fresh flavor. This combination of influences makes Maltese food a truly unique culinary experience. It is one of the most exciting facts about Malta for foodies.
There are many delicious dishes that you can try when you are in Malta. Here are some of the most popular Maltese food to know about.
Most Famous Food in Malta
Stuffat tal-Fenek (Maltese Rabbit Stew)
If you’re looking for a specialty Maltese food, then look no further than Stuffat tal-Fenek. It is the national dish of Malta and certainly one of the most iconic food in Malta. The dish’s origins trace back to the 16th century and were thought to be introduced by the Knights of St John.
This mouthwatering dish is made with slow-cooked rabbit, and it is absolutely delicious. The rabbit is first marinated in a mixture of garlic, wine, and herbs. Then it is cooked in a stew with tomatoes, onions, and more spices.
This dish is usually served with potatoes and vegetables. You can imagine rabbits aren’t as regularly eaten as other meat in the modern world today. Nonetheless, Stuffat tal-Fenek is a real treat, and it remains one of the most iconic Maltese food.
Traditional Maltese Food in Malta
Stuffat tal-Qarnita (Octopus Stew)
Seafood is a common ingredient in Maltese cuisine and the octopus is no different. The Stuffat tal-Qarnita is a stew made with octopus, potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, and red wine amongst other spices.
The octopus is cooked until it is tender, and then it is simmered in the sauce for hours. This results in a rich, flavorful stew that is truly delicious.
The Stuffat tal-Qarnita is a popular dish, and it can be found in many restaurants around Malta. It is often served with a side of Maltese bread, which is used to soak up the delicious sauce.
This dish is a real Maltese classic, and definitely worth trying when you are exploring all the food in Malta!
Bragioli (Beef Olives)
Beef olives are a very popular dish in Malta although these are more of enriched beef rolls rather than olives. They are made with thin slices of beef that are rolled and stuffed with bacon, breadcrumbs, egg, and spices. The beef olives are then browned in a pan and simmered slowly in a red wine sauce with carrots and onions until they are cooked through.
Reminds you a bit of the Beef Bourguignon in French cuisine, doesn’t it?
This dish is often served as a main course, with a side of mashed potatoes, rice or vegetables. You also want it with fresh warm bread to dip into the sauce and indulge in the flavor. It is also a popular choice for a picnic or potluck dish, as it can be served at room temperature.
Imqarrun il-Forn (Baked Pasta/Macaroni)
This is a Maltese pasta dish that is very similar to the macaroni and cheese, and gets its influence from Italian cuisine. It is primarily made with elbow macaroni, a sauce of red meat and tomato, and plenty of cheese. A whole bunch of herbs and spices are included to give it a fragrant taste.
Once it is baked in the oven, the top becomes golden brown and bubbly. This gives it a crispy crust that pairs nicely with the warm interior of the dish.
Imqarrun il-Forn is usually served as a main course, but it can also be served as a side dish.
Timpana (Baked Macaroni Pie)
Timpana is a Maltese dish that is similar to lasagna. It is made with layers of macaroni, beef, and pork ragout, and is then baked in a pastry crust or shell. Simply put, it is like baked macaroni in pastry.
Timpana is a dish that originated in Sicily, Italy, but it has been adopted by the Maltese people as their own.
If you are looking for a hearty meal, Timpana is a great option. The combination of pasta, meat, and vegetables makes for a filling and satisfying dish.
The crispy pastry crust is a nice touch, as it creates a nice contrast to the gooey goodness inside, and adds a bit of sweetness to the savory dish. Timpana is a must-try for anyone visiting Malta.
Lampuka is a dish made of filleted fish which is then baked in a pastry crust.
The word Lampuka derives from the word for “dolphinfish” (A dolphinfish is not a dolphin), also known as the “mahi-mahi” or dorado fish. In the past, this was the main type of fish used for the pie since it is meaty.
Nowadays, any large and meaty fish can be used. The most commonly used fish are Lampuki, swordfish, and tuna.
The fillets of fish are cut into small pieces and placed in a large pot with ingredients such as potatoes, onions, garlic, olives, capers, tomatoes, and wine. This forms the pie filling.
The pie is then baked in a pastry crust and served hot. You can find this Maltese food regularly in seafood restaurants.
Zalzett tal-Malti (Maltese Sausage)
The Zalzett Tal-Malti is a must-try food in Malta for all sausage and barbecue lovers. It has a garlicky flavor and packs a punch for those who like strong tastes.
This is a traditional Maltese sausage that is made with minced pork, garlic, and spices such as peppercorns, coriander, fennel seeds, and cloves. The sausages are then smoked over juniper branches to give them a unique flavor.
Zalzett Tal-Malti is usually served as an appetizer, or as a main course with Maltese potatoes and vegetables. It is a delicious Maltese food that you can find in many restaurants in Malta.
Kapunata (Maltese Ratatouille)
Kapunata is a Maltese dish that is very similar to the French ratatouille. It is a stew made with eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes. The vegetables are cooked in olive oil until they are soft and then seasoned with garlic, salt, and pepper.
Kapunata is a popular and rather healthy food in Malta with a mix of vegetables. It is often served as a side dish or as an appetizer. You can also have it with fresh, warm bread.
Ftira Għawdxija (Gozitan Ftira/Pizza)
This is another food in Malta that draws its inspiration from Italian cuisine. The Gozitan Ftira is a pizza-like dish, which is quite popular in Malta. Unlike Italian pizza which is usually made with a thin and crispy dough, this has a thicker dough that is used for the traditional Ftira.
This Maltese pizza dish originates from the Island of Gozo, and the toppings on a Gozitan Ftira are quite different from those you would find on an Italian pizza. The most popular toppings include sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, olives, anchovies, and capers.
The Gozitan Ftira is usually round in shape and can be either small or large. It is typically served as a main course, but can also be enjoyed as a snack or appetizer.
If you are looking for a truly unique and delicious pizza experience, then you must try a Gozitan Ftira when you are in Malta
Platt Malti (Maltese Platter)
If you are wondering how to try all the delicious traditional food in Malta. The Platt Malti is for you. It is a platter dish that is composed of a variety of Maltese food. It typically includes ġbejniet, Bigilla, Zalzett tal-Malti, sun-dried tomatoes, sausages, Kapunata, and more.
Similar to the Mezze in Turkish cuisine, Tapas in Spain or Picada in Argentina. This is perfect for those who want to try a little bit of everything and a great way to sample some of the most popular Maltese food.
Needless to say, this is also a good choice for sharing with friends and families over a glass of wine or beer. You can also have it as a hearty main dish as it is sure to fill you up.
Snacks and Light Food in Malta
No food article about Malta would be complete without mentioning pastizzi. These are delicious, hand-held snacks that are cheap and cheerful. They can be enjoyed at any time of day, and make the perfect on-the-go snack. Pastizzi come in two types: ricotta cheese or peas. The fillings are encased in a light, flaky pastry made of phyllo dough that is deep-fried or baked.
Pastizzi is an iconic street food in Malta and the national snack. You can find pastizzi pretty much everywhere in Malta. They are sold at cafes, bakeries, and even gas stations!
It can’t get more local than this as it is something that the Maltese have in their daily life. If you want to try something truly Maltese, then make sure to grab a few pastizzi.
Bigilla (Maltese Bean Paste)
This is a food that Maltese people are very proud of. Bigilla is a thick and creamy paste, made from fava beans.
The beans are first soaked overnight, then they are boiled until soft. Once they have cooled down, they are mashed and mixed with garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and seasoning.
The final paste can be either smooth or chunky, depending on the preference.
Bigilla is usually eaten as a dip, spread on bread or Maltese crackers. It can also be served as a side dish or some even use it as a pasta sauce. Certainly one of the more versatile food in Malta.
The paste can be found in all food stores around Malta and Gozo. It is also available in most restaurants, which usually tastes better.
Panettone (Maltese Christmas Cake)
If you are visiting Malta during the festive season, then you must try panettone! This traditional cake is made with bunting, dried fruit, and malta. The origin of Panettone goes back to Milan, Italy; yet another example of Italian influence on the cuisine.
The dough is very similar to that of brioche, which gives the cake a light and fluffy texture. It is great for sharing, thereby serving its purpose in Christmas season. Panettone can be served with a sweet sauce, or simply dusted with icing sugar. It goes well with a cup of tea, coffee, or even red wine.
Ħobż bi Żejt (Maltese Bread/Sandwich)
You cannot go to Malta and not try Ħobż bi Żejt! This is a must-have food in Malta, whether you are looking for a quick snack or most restaurants serve this dish as a starter.
Ħobż bi Żejt literally means ‘bread with oil’. It is a type of Maltese bread that is slathered with olive oil and rubbed with garlic. A sweet tomato paste called Kunserva is a common foundation spread on top of the bread. Then, it is then topped with a variety of ingredients, such as ġbejniet, Nigilla, sausage, vegetables, and more. Whatever it is to your liking actually.
It is simple to prepare but can be catered to any tastes, and be made really filling.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Food in Malta – Soups
Aljotta (Maltese Fish Soup)
Aljotta is a fish soup that is very popular in Malta. It is made with fresh fish, tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. This soup is usually served with bread on the side.
This dish is traditionally made with fish that has been caught by the fisherman himself. The most common type of fish used in this soup is rockfish, but other types of white fish can also be used.
It is prepared by cooking the whole fish, including the head, tail, and all, in order to extract as much taste as possible. The longer you cook the soup, the more flavorful this dish gets.
Aljotta is usually served as a starter or first course, but it can also be enjoyed as a main course.
Soppa tal-Armla (Widow’s Soup)
Widow’s soup is a humble, yet hearty dish that has been enjoyed by Maltese people for centuries. The soup gets its name from the frugal widows who would make this soup when they had little food in their cupboards.
Despite its name, the soup is now enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. The soup is made with a mix of vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery. These are cooked in water or broth until they are soft.
The vegetables are then pureed to create a thick and creamy soup. Widow’s soup is usually served with a piece of Maltese bread – ħobż biż-żejt.
This delicious soup is the perfect food for a cold winter day. You can imagine with all the root vegetables and carbs, it can be rather filling meal in itself.
Minestra (Minestrone Soup)
This hearty soup is a staple of Maltese cuisine. It is a filling and comforting dish, that is great for warming you up on a cold day. The soup is made with a variety of vegetables, including potatoes, carrots, celery, beans, peas, and spinach. These are all simmered in a tomato-based broth.
Maltese Minestra also often contains pasta, rice, or barley. This makes it a complete meal in itself! Minestra is usually served with a side of crusty bread, to mop up all the delicious broth. It is also common to add a dollop of ġbejna (goat’s cheese) on top of the soup.
This tasty soup is perfect for vegetarians, as it is packed with healthy vegetables. It is also a great option for those who are looking for a gluten-free meal.
Food in Malta – Desserts
Imqaret (Deep Fried Date Rolls)
This traditional Maltese dessert is made of deep-fried pastry, rolled into a cigar shape, and filled with a sweet date filling.
The dough used to make the pastry is usually a combination of flour, water, yeast, and sugar. The date filling is made of chopped dates, mixed with orange zest, cinnamon, and cloves.
Imqaret are usually served dusted with powdered sugar, and they make for a delicious and sweet treat that goes well with coffee and tea.
Figolli (Maltese Easter Cookies)
Easter time in Malta is not complete without the delicious smell of figolli baking in every home.
Figolli are Maltese Easter cookies that are made out of a sweet dough and then shaped into different forms. The most popular shapes are bunnies, chickens, and lambs.
But the shapes are not the only thing that makes these cookies special. The real key to a good Figollo is in the filling.
The most common fillings are made with almond paste, chocolate, or a mixture of candied fruit and nuts. But the possibilities are endless!
Once they are filled, the cookies are then decorated with a sugar glaze and colorful sprinkles.
Figolli is a beloved Maltese treat that is enjoyed by young and old alike. If you’re in Malta during Easter time, be sure to try it.
Kannoli tal-Irkotta (Ricotta Cannoli)
Cannoli are a traditional Italian snack and dessert that has been adopted by the Maltese people. They are made of fried pastry dough, which is then rolled into a cylinder shape and filled with sweet creamy ricotta cheese.
The ricotta filling is usually flavored with chocolate, candied fruit, or nuts. They are then dusted with powdered sugar. From the crispiness of the crust to the texture of the filling, this can vary across different bakeries and vendors depending on their recipe.
Therefore, you can keep trying it from various places. This is the perfect treat if you are looking for something sweet and satisfying in Malta.
Qaghaq ta’ l-Ghasel (Honey Rings)
These are Maltese donuts that are made primarily with flour, sugar, margarine, eggs, black treacle, and orange zest. They are then rolled into shape before baking. The result is a sweet, sticky, and delicious treat that is perfect for any occasion.
Contrary to its name, honey is actually not an ingredient in the usual Qaghaq ta’ l-Ghasel you find today. You can get these treats easily in supermarkets, but the fresh ones from bakeries taste the best.
Qaghaq ta’ l-Ghasel is a traditional Maltese food that is often served during holidays and special occasions such as Christmas. However, it is now a common food in Malta any time of the year.
Kwareżimal (Maltese Lenten Cookies)
Kwareżimal, also known as Maltese Lenten cookies, are traditional Maltese cookies that are eaten during Lent. They do not contain any dairy products and are vegan.
Kwareżimal are made with simple ingredients like flour, almond paste, aniseed, sugar or honey, lemon zest to give it flavor. Lent is a time when some people give up eating sweets as a form of fasting. Curiously, sugar is an ingredient because it was considered a spice in the past, which kept it off the restricted list for Lent.
Regularly, Kwareżimal goes well with a cup of tea or coffee. But they can also be enjoyed as a dessert, with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
Pudina tal-Ħobż (Bread Pudding)
Bread pudding is a popular dessert in Malta, and it can be found in most restaurants. It originated in the 18th century and was invented as a way to make use of stale bread.
The dish is made with day-old bread, soaked in milk and eggs. Once the bread has absorbed all the liquid, it is mixed with sugar, raisins, chocolate chips, and lemon zest. After that, the mixture is placed in a baking dish and baked until golden brown.
Bread pudding is a delicious and comforting dessert; it can be served with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.
Sampling Delicious Maltese Food in Malta
These are some of the most popular and traditional Maltese food in Malta that you can try. From hearty stews to sweet pastries, Malta offers some unique culinary experiences through their local cuisine. Be sure to sink your teeth into some of these delicious treats and delights as you hop around exploring all the things to do in Malta.