Traditional Maltese Food and Drinks

Food lovers have a lot to celebrate in Malta. Traditional Maltese food and drinks are spectacular! Here is a mini guide to Maltese cuisine:

Brief Intro to Malta

The Republic of Malta is a trio of islands situated in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. Malta is the largest of the three islands and is home to the capital city, Valletta. At just one-third the size of Malta, Gozo is the second largest island in the Maltese archipelago. It has an area of 26 square miles (67 km2) and is mainly comprised of rural communities. Specialty wines, cheeses and honey are available throughout Gozo, which also boasts fine hotels and spas for those seeking luxury amenities. Comino, the smallest of the 3 islands, has just a handful of permanent inhabitants. It is home to the Blue Lagoon, a bay that derives its distinctive color from the glowing white sand below the surface.
Valletta

Modern Maltese culture is a unique blend of Mediterranean hospitality and a remarkable living history that exists in its people, places and gastronomic traditions.

Check out the History of the Maltese Language

Luzzu Boats in Marsaxlokk Bay

Traditional Maltese ingredients include: Rabbit, pork, cheese, pasta, olive oil, vegetables, fish, tomatoes, flatbreads.

Traditional Maltese Food and Drinks

Rabbit

Forget about your tender feelings toward Thumper and Bugs Bunny. Maltese rabbit is some of the best in the world and an absolute MUST for any first-time visitor and self-proclaimed foodie. Fried rabbit with wine and garlic is one of Malta’s most popular dishes. The runner-up has got to be Maltese Rabbit Stew. Both these dishes will have you asking for a second helping of bread to slop up all the juices on your plate. In Malta it’s okay to eat rabbit with your hands.

Best place: Charlie’s Inn Rabbit House (Malta)

Fried Rabbit for dinner

Fried Rabbit with wine and garlic

Side dish to the rabbit above

Seasoned baked potatoes side dish

Italian Inspired Dishes

Malta’s geographical location undoubtedly has influenced its cuisine, and it’s a good thing that the islands are close to Sicily because when you combine traditional Sicilian ingredients and Arab cooking techniques, the result is dynamite! Ravioli, risotto, spaghetti and other pasta creations are featured on nearly every traditional restaurant menu throughout the islands.

Best places: Rebekah’s (Malta), Gululu (Malta), Ta’ Rikardu (Gozo)

Seafood pasta

Fresh mixed seafood spaghetti

Cheese ravioli with fresh tomato sauce at Ta' Rikardu in Gozo

Fresh ravioli with marinara sauce in Gozo

Fresh Seafood

With unobstructed access to the Mediterranean Sea, the Maltese islands boast incredible, bountiful catches. For centuries fishing has been a way of life here, and still is the primary source of income for numerous Maltese people. The sea and its gifts have largely influenced Maltese culture. Some of the local delicacies include prawns, mussels, octopus, cuttlefish, squid and tuna just to name a few. With a squeeze of lemon, you’re ready to dive in.

Best places: Blue Creek Restaurant (Malta), Patrick’s Tmum (Gozo)Zafiro Restaurant e Bistro (Gozo)

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Right off the pan in Marsalforn, Gozo

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Prawn risotto in Mellieha

Hearty Stews

Steamy stews aren’t just for cold weather destinations. Although Malta has a warm, Mediterranean climate most of the year, it doesn’t mean its people cannot appreciate a filling stew every now and then. After all, fishermen need energy too. Beef, pork and rabbit stews are the most common. Each is prepared differently, but the basic potion contains nutmeg, carrots, potatoes and tomato sauce.

Best places: Charlie’s Inn Rabbit House (Malta), DVenue (Gozo)

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Traditional rabbit stew

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Pork meatballs with potatoes

Ftira

Ftira is the Maltese version of pizza – except it is tomato sauce-less. Mediterranean toppings of all sorts like olives, tomato slices, mozzarella cheese, sardines, eggplant, potatoes and capers are used to personalize ftiras to your liking.

Best place: Nenu the Artisan Baker (Malta)

Specialty Items

With an abundance of fertile soil and ideal weather conditions for growing produce, it is no wonder why Malta and Gozo have delicious cheeses, honey, spices, fruit preserves, olives and sweets available. The Ta’ Mena Estate in Gozo is the best way to sample the local fare. Make sure you try the tomato preserves. They are to die for!

Best places: Ta’ Rikardu (Gozo), Ta’ Mena Estate (Gozo)

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Gozitan-style cheese and cracker platter

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Antipasto appetizer sampler of cheese, eggplant, sausage, and olives

Wines

The Meridiana Wine Estate has taken center stage in the world of Maltese winemaking traditions, and has led the pack in terms of quality. The energetic and passionate Mark Miceli-Farrugia began Meridiana Winery in 1987 with the intention of using local grapes to create wines everyone could enjoy, regardless of sophistication of palette. Mark and his family have helped Meridiana become a contender in Mediterranean wine production, and have made their Isis Chardonnay one of the most popular white wines of Malta.Meridiana-Wine-Estate-barrels-malta-davidsbeenhere

Aging barrels at the Meridiana Wine Estate

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The wines are named after Phoenician gods and goddesses

Local Drinks

When you dine in certain places throughout Malta, don’t even think about ordering a coke or an imported beer. The Maltese love their local drinks and oftentimes they are the only things offered on the menu besides water and juice. Kinnie is a non-alcoholic beverage made with bitter oranges. It tastes like a mix of Dr. Pepper and an ice tea. It is bottled by the same producers of Cisk Beer, a Maltese Lager. In 2007, Cisk won the title for World’s Best Lager by Beers of the World Magazine.

Recipe for Maltese Rabbit Stew “Stuffat tal-Fenek”

Courtesy of Maltabulb

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 rabbit, weighing about 1 and a half kilos (or 3 lb and 4.91 oz) when cleaned, portioned

2 onions, peeled and sliced

4 garlic cloves, peeled

3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons tomato paste

3 or 4 potatoes, peeled and quartered

5 carrots, peeled and sliced

200 g (or 7.05 oz) peas

2 bay leaves

Pinch mixed herbs

Half stock cube

Freshly ground pepper

275 ml (slightly more than 1 cup) red wine

Seasoned flour

1 tsp olive oil

Instructions:

Season plain flour by adding salt and pepper to it and mix well.

Roll the portions of the rabbit in the flour and shake off any excess flour. Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pot, add the rabbit and cook. You need to cook the rabbit until the outside is slightly brown.

Add the onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic and tomatoes to the pot. Pour some wine over the ingredients. (Do not pour all the wine at this stage). Add the bay leaves, stock and tomato paste. Add the liver, kidneys and peas and bring to the boil.

Simmer for about one and a half hours or until the rabbit is cooked. If the sauce starts to dry up, add some more wine.

Serving Tip:

Usually, the rabbit sauce is served as a starter with spaghetti. Followed by the rabbit and more sauce as the main course. You can also serve the main course with vegetables.

Which are your favorite traditional Maltese food and drinks? Leave us a question or comment below!

Special thanks to Visit Malta.

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