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Today, the Maltese people enjoy a varied Mediterranean cuisine, particularly influenced by Italian cuisine. Malta however has many historic links with other countries, and many other influences can be seen in Maltese cuisine, for example, Moorish influences.
Some popular Maltese dishes include:
– Aljotta – A fish soup containing garlic, herbs and tomatoes that is often served with rice.
– Brodu – A broth containing meat (beef or chicken usually) and vegetables, and served with pasta.
– Kusksu – A thick soup made from chicken stock, and containing broad beans, pasta beads (known as “kusksu”), onions, tomato paste and garlic.
– Minestra – A thick vegetable soup, particularly popular in Winter, and usually eaten with crusty Maltese bread known as “hobza”.
– Soppa ta’ l-armla – Literally translated, “soppa ta’ l-armla” means “widow’s soup”, the dish supposedly having gots its name because neighbors donated it poor widows living in their communities. Soppa ta’ l-armla is a thinner version of minestra (vegetable soup), but with the addition of fresh gbejniet (small, round cheeses, made from sheep’s milk) which melt in the soup, and raw eggs added at the end to coagulate the soup.
– Bigilla – A traditional bean dip made from mashed dried broad beans with seasonings and optionally chili.
– Kapunata – The Maltese version of ratatouille. Served hot or cold, and even used as a pizza topping.
– Mqarrun il-Forn – Baked macaroni with bolognese sauce and egg. Bacon and peas are added in some versions of the recipe, and the dish is usually topped with a layer of grated cheese or bescamella (white sauce).
– Timpana – A pastry covered version of Mqarrun il-Forn (baked macaroni). A small amount of ground (minced) beef, and sometimes hard-boiled eggs, are added, then then the whole thing is encased in a pastry crust.
– Ross il-Forn – Baked rice. This dish is similar to Mqarrun il-Forn, but with rice instead of macaroni (water is added before cooking), and the addition of curry.
– Ravjul – The Maltese version of ravioli, filled with ricotta and parsley (and sometimes spinach), or with minced meat. The dish is covered with a tomato sauce and topped with cheese.
– Bragjoli – A thin slice of beef surrounding a mixture of breadcrumbs, bacon, eggs and cheese.
– Fenkata – Rabbit served in tomato sauce or gravy. The meat is usually light fried and then simmered as a casserole for several hours.
– Laham taz-ziemel – Stallion meat with white wine sauce.
– Lampuka – Mahi-mahi, a white fish. It can be eaten pan-fried with olive oil, oven-baked with a tomato and wine sauce, or made into fish pies.
– Qargha Baghli – Stuffed marrows with ground (minced) beef and parsley. They can be baked or made into a creamy soup.
– Zalzett tal-Malti – A traditional Maltese sausage made from pork and flavored with black peppercorns, coriander seeds, parsley, sea salt, and sometimes garlic. There are varieties which are dried and others that are eaten fresh.
– Imqaret – A deep-fried pastry filled with dates.
– Pastizzi – Pastry stuffed with ricotta or a mushy pea mixture.
– Figolla – An icing-coated biscuit stuffed with sweet ground almonds. It is traditionally eaten at Easter, and made into shapes such as a fish, a lamb, a heart, etc.
– Helwa tat-Tork – “Turk’s sweet” – The Maltese version of Halva.
– Kwarezimal – Biscuits, traditionally eaten during Lent.
– Pudina ta’ l-Hobz – Bread pudding. Pudina ta’ l-Hobz is made from stale bread, soaked in water over night, and milk, cocoa, sugar, dried fruit, nuts, and sometimes liqueurs, are then added.
– Qaghaq ta’ l-Ghasel – A light pastry ring made with honey or treacle. Originally eaten at Christmas, but now popular all year round.
write by Raphael Walton