The glorious world of Traditional Maltese Cuisine
The recipes in Maltese cuisine are a tangible and tasteful proof of the various influences the island has had from other countries and cultures that came across its history. The Italian imprint is probably the strongest, particularly Sicily and the South. Pasta dishes are really popular, but with a softer texture. Maltese gastronomic legacy of its past includes also Spanish, Arabic and British influences.
Mediterranean ingredients such as fresh and sundried tomatoes, parsley and garlic, wine, olive oil and fresh cheese are the base of any traditional Maltese recipe. The humble extraction of the traditional cuisine is recognisable by the cheap cuts of meat and dishes that can be served as two meals, which does not make it any less tasty, quite the opposite.
Dips like bigilla and olives, eaten with crusty bread, often accompanies a fresh drink during the warm afternoons. Crusty bread is also used as appetizer in its “hobz biz-zejt” form, which translates in English as bread with oil. A thick slice of Ftira bread with tomato paste called kunserva and topped with capers, olives, garlic, black pepper, and sometimes tuna or anchovies. The most popular snacks on the island are Pastizzi, with at least one pastizzeria for every village!
Being an island in the middle of the Mediterranean, Malta’s gastronomic traditions are connected with fish: try the rizzi (sea urchins) sauce for your spaghetti or the grilled Lampuki, a fish that is caught by laying palm fronds on the water to provide shade the fish craves. From the traditional Bragioli, rolled stuffed piece of beef cooked slowly in tomato sauce and herbs, or Fenkata, rabbit stew with peas and cooked with wine.
Maltese desserts will remind you of Arabian nights with their dates and almonds. Traditionally you finish your meal with fresh fruit and some soft fresh Maltese cheese called ġbejniet. An aged version of this hand-made cheese is eaten as a snack or appetizer in a Maltese platter - both have a sweet slightly nutty taste.
RECIPE - RABBIT STEW WITH PALE ALE
1 whole cut rabbit
1 litre pale ale
2 medium onions, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 tbsp garlic
500ml chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato paste (kunserva)
1 tbsp nutmeg
2tbsp mixed spice
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp marjoram
1 sprig thyme
2 bay leaves
1. Marinade the rabbit in the ale overnight.
2. Seal the rabbit on high heat in a heavy bottom pot. Once browned, add the onions, garlic and carrots. Once the onions have browned, add the ale and the chicken stock, and leave to simmer on high heat.
3. After 20 minutes of simmering, add the potatoes, tomato paste, all the herbs and spices and the polpa, turn down the heat and let simmer until the potatoes are cooked.
4. Season to taste and ass the peas.
5. Serve - best served with Maltese bread.