One things’s for sure, you won’t struggle to find food in Malta, though salads and veg are generally a little scarce.
Food in Malta: things to try
The Doughnut that wasn’t a Doughnut
These things caught my eye in Valletta at a food stand opposite the water fountain, and after taking a cheeky picture I felt it was only right to try one.
They look like giant doughnuts right? Yes, except they’re not filled with cream or jam – nope. Mine was filled with chicken, mushrooms and white sauce.
That makes it a chicken and mushroom doughnut, one of the most unusual things I’ve eaten on holiday.
I’d never had anything like it, but it was very nice – a great ‘grab and eat’ snack on the go.
The Maltese love a pastry – in fact they’re everywhere, a cheap and hefty meal if you’re watching the pennies.
Food for Giants: Burger Pie!!!
Some of the other pastries make Greggs (UK bakery) look like a dandelion next to a sunflower!! Malta boasts some heavy duty pastry and industrial standard pies.
When I saw it I couldn’t believe it, (I kid you not) it was like a brick and it weighed a tonne. I confess, I left most of the pastry – it was just too much with the pasta as well.
Qassata Sinaci – the Spinach thing
This was basically a spinach pie, and surprisingly, very nice!! It’s heavy duty pastry and very generously filled with heaps of spinach – Popeye would be proud!
It seems the Maltese can make a pie out of anything.
This was a first for me, and no – its not a mistaken picture of a Cornish pasty.
It may not look the prettiest, but unexpectedly, this pie was delicious and very deeply filled. I’m not sure what spice they add to it but it works really well. I would never in a million years have thought about combining tuna with spinach, but that’s what you get in a Maltese Tuna pie. It beats a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich and it’s a lot cheaper and much more filling too.
I had this straight after the pasta pie – thankfully its a small thing, about the size of a tennis ball and filled with big chunks of piping hot apple in a crunchy pastry coating.
I can’t remember what this was called, but I do remember not being able to pronounce it properly lol. I’d describe this as a cornmeal tasting hot snack filled with shredded chicken. You get a spicy dip to go with it, to add a bit of flavour, because honestly, they’re not very tasty.
These snacks are very small, a quick bite really, and I only remember seeing these at the Marsaxlokk Sunday market.
Stewed rabbit is the leading local dish, but octopus and Lampuki ( a seasonal fish) came up on most menus since they’re traditional choices when it comes to food in Malta.
Well I talked myself into trying this in the spirit of embracing the ‘Maltese experience’, it’s the traditional Malta dish and I’d never tasted rabbit before. It was quite tasty. I think a lot of cloves or a very similar spice was used, giving the sauce a strong distinct flavour.
The meat was on the bone and not tough, but not quite as tender as a lamb shank. If you’re a meat eater, I’d say lamb is a tastier meat than rabbit – rabbit needs spicing up otherwise its quite bland.
Apparently rabbit meat is higher in protein than beef and chicken, yet low in cholesterol; a very lean meat, not as fatty as lamb.
It’s a very traditional fish in Malta and was very much ‘in season’ in December. Restaurant staff highlighted that Lampuki is a rare catch for most of the year, apparently. I thought it was going to be a fish pie (with mash potato on top – that’s what Google told me) but it was served as a whole fish with head, eyes and everything.
I’m not a fan of fish served like this because it’s a lot of work to fork out the flesh and avoid the tiny bones.
Lampuki was quite a meaty fish (not flaky like cod), but other than that, nothing out of the ordinary.
When you’re eating a lot of stodgy food everyday it’s easy to neglect your five a day – so a fruit fix here and there from a local grocer was defiantly in order.
Tangerines: these seemed very fertile – with lots of very big seeds.
Regular black grapes: Nice and sweet – but millions of pips!!!! You need a lot of time to work your way through them.
The fruit that looked like a long grape:
So this fruit tastes like a grape but it’s not a grape: I’ve tried to find these on the ever faithful Google, to no avail. I spotted these ‘giant purple bean-looking things’ at a grocers in Sliema. I asked the owner if they were sweet/fruit – I don’t think he spoke much English but he offered me one to taste and it tasted like a grape, with no seeds. He referred to them as “yooeee/ewei/ouee/oooooeeeeee” I have no idea how to spell it but that’s what it sounded like! I threw a bunch in the bag – chuffed to have made a new and intriguing ‘fruit discovery”
Oranges: from the hotel breakfast buffet – not very sweet at all, and like the tangerines, they have loads of seeds, the biggest I’ve ever encountered in an orange, more like big peanuts than seeds.
Malta is home to a species of honey bee that can only be found in Malta, and I bought some of their prized honey at the Sunday market in Marsaxlokk from a local beekeeper husband and wife duo.
They even brought some of their bees along in a container, and a few of them were loose – I bought a jar of honey to take home and they offered me a free ‘bee’ with my purchase, but I declined. Not sure the poor bee would survive the flight home.
The jar of honey has a big chunk of honeycomb in it, which the bee keeper said I can just chew and then discard once the honey is finished. The honeycomb seems quite hard, solid and perfectly sculpted – bees are amazing!!
Having tasted it, I was surprised by the taste, it’s not as sweet as the mass produced honey brands you buy in the supermarket – it was sweet but somewhat savoury at the same time, with a savoury after taste. I prefer this to sickly sweet honey, so maybe I’ll have to pop back to Malta every now and again for a top up lol.
I also bought a small jar of their beeswax mixed with a few other natural ingredients that can be applied to dry skin – for just 3 Euros.
Speaking of sweet things – Malta must be making a killing in the dental industry. Nougat and sugar laden peanut brittle are traditional sweets that you’ll see all over the place. The best selections I came across were at the Marsaxlokk Sunday market.
Food with a View
There’s a Mediterranean restaurant on the Sliema strip called ‘The Terrace”, I’d recommend it. You get amazing harbour views of Valletta from here, day and night, and the food is lovely too – I can vouch for the lamb shank.
There are a lot of Turkish restaurants and take aways in Malta – this soon became very apparent.
Moo’s Kebab Turkish Restaurant in Sliema is definitely worthy of a loud shout out – the food is tasty, well and freshly cooked (you see them cook the meat from scratch) the portions are more than filling and the staff are super friendly – always giving you top class customer service. 10/10 Oh yes, and extremely good value for money too. The lamb burgers and wraps were perfect 🙌
Hopefully this gives some very basic, useful insights into Malta’s world of food.