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Maltese dishes

Online since: 09. April 2013

Maltese Dishes

Traditional Maltese food is rural and seasonal. The local families were very inventive with the food they had available. The housewives usually pickled most of the food. The produce was either preserved or dried, so it could be used later. Typical specialities are gbejniet (sheep’s or goat’s cheese), Tadam Imqadded (sun-ripened tomatoes), Bigilla (tasty spread made of tic beans and garlic), Kappar (capers), dried and fresh beans, Kapunata (Maltese version of ratatouille) and many others.


Fish soup with lots of garlic. Traditional summer dish, often served with rice.


Traditional bean dip made of tic beans, known in Maltese as ful tal-Girba. The beans have to be soaked for 24 hours and then cooked. Then they are mixed with salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic and parsley and then mashed. Peppers are an optional ingredient.

Braġjoli (also spelt Bragoli or Bragioli )

Roulades filled with capers, bacon and egg. Particularly tasty when steamed in red wine.

Rabbit (Maltese = Fenech)

Rabbit is very popular and is one of the best-known Maltese dishes. In restaurants, it is usually offered as a traditional platter. The rabbit is fried for a short while and then stewed in red wine for hours over low heat in a casserole. It is usually served with chips or potatoes and salad, as well as a tomato sauce.


This dish is most popular around Easter. It is a golden-coloured gingerbread covered with royal icing and filled with sweet almonds. It comes in many different shapes. The traditional shape is that of a lamb, due to its religious origin. Other popular shapes are hearts and ducks.


Small and spicy wheel of air-dried farmer’s cheese, traditionally made from goats milk. Nowadays, however, cow’s milk is mainly used. It is often served as a side dish for lunch or dinner. The cheese has a smooth texture and a subtle, mainly creamy aroma. Often, it is served with a galletti (local cracker) and a glass of red wine. The dried version has a stronger taste, but is less popular.

Ħobża tal-Malti (Maltese bread)

A very crisp sourdough bread with a delicious, soft interior. This bread is eaten with each meal. In combination with simple, local products such as fresh tomatoes or spread, it is a snack on its own. Most households have a loaf delivered daily, including Sundays, to their door. Many visitors order it as a side dish to their main meal.

Kannoli (sweet)

Pretty much identical to the Italian cannoli. Crisp dough tubes filled with fresh ricotta and chocolate, and sweetened with glacé fruits. They are eaten at any time of the day as a little sweet snack or as dessert after a meal.


The Maltese version of ratatouille, made of tomatoes, capers, eggplants and green peppers. It goes well with grilled fish, but it can also be served as a cold dish on its own and is often served on pizzas. It’s easy to make for yourself, but you can also buy it ready-made in supermarkets.


A strong, savoury soup. Often made in springtime, as its main ingredient is tic beans.

Laħam taż-Żiemel (stallion meat)

Horsemeat is a very common meal, and is used in a wide range of dishes. It is normally fried or baked.

Lampuka (the national fish)

The dorado or mahi-mahi has a fine, white meat on large bones and migrates in large numbers between Malta and Tunisia. This fish can grow up to 1 m long and weighs up to 50 kg. It is either fried in olive oil, baked in the oven with a sauce made of tomatoes, onions, capers and white wine, or baked into a fish tart with spinach, cauliflower, capers, raisins, boiled eggs and herbs.


Most Maltese meals start with a soup. Minestra is traditionally a healthy and tasty soup made of numerous fresh and dried vegetables, served with a slice of crisp Maltese bread. This dish is eaten throughout the year, but is most popular in winter.

Mqarrun il-Forn

Macaroni (penne) filled with beef mince, eggs and a sauce. Sometimes, this dish is covered in cheese, which melts in the oven when baked.

Pastizzi (snack)

Everyone’s favourite snack! You will find it in most bars, pizzerias, restaurants and some bakeries or cafés. Pastizzi are small dough pockets filled with ricotta cheese or pea mash, and are very cheap.

Qagħaq ta l-Għasel

A light-coloured pastry known as honey rings. Often, they are served as small cookies after a meal, for example, with coffee. It used to be a Christmas sweetie, but nowadays you get it throughout the year in every bakery.

Soppa ta l-Armla (the widow soup)

This dish most likely got its nickname from the neighbours who gave food to the widows in the neighbourhood. It is similar to a minestra (a viscous vegetable soup), but is slightly thinner and contains fresh ġbejniet that melts in the hot soup. Usually, raw eggs are added at the end and once they have curdled, the soup is ready to be served.


Baked macaroni filled with beef mince and sometime boiled eggs and cheese. The macaroni are scalloped in a layer of phyllo. This dish most certainly has a rural origin.

S. Wagner

Further reading on this subject (from our online bookshop):
THE Gozo TABLE - Il-Mejda Ghawdxija
Over 80 recipes that capture the heart of Gozo's cuisine and the essence of what Mediterranean produce and cooking has to offer. Well-known Gozitan ch ... mehr
Maltese Cooking

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