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Here are five traditional Maltese dishes to enjoy in the country’s UNESCO-listed capital on your next visit.

1. Lampuki

Also known as dolphinfish or mahi mahi, this milky-textured fleshy fish is a seasonal specialty on offer between August 15 and December each year (the legal fishing season during the species’ migration). During this time, lampuki pops up on almost every menu in the city, whether pan-fried to perfection or baked into a piping-hot pie. The latter is a great example of how the country’s food scene has been influenced by multiple cultures (in this case English, Italian and Arabic). Enjoy a flaky, crispy crust filled with tomatoes, capers, mint and raisins. Try it at Michelin-starred Noni.

Lampuki. Photo credit VisitMalta
Lampuki. Photo credit VisitMalta
Lampuki. Photo credit VisitMalta
Lampuki. Photo credit VisitMalta

2. Pastizzi

Perhaps the most famous of Malta’s delectable offerings, these crusty pasties are locals’ fast-food snack of choice. Traditionally filled with curried peas, rabbit or cheese, they’re prolific across the islands and are pleasingly affordable (usually no more than a euro). The best known spot to sample them is Crystal Palace in Rabat, just 20 minutes from Valletta, though if you’re tight on time, pop into the Upper Barrakka Kiosk and enjoy the morsel accompanied by stunning views across the Grand Harbour.

Pastizzi
Pastizzi
Pastizzi
Pastizzi

3. Rabbit stew

You can’t leave Valletta without sampling the country’s national dish, stuffatt tal-fenek: rabbit stew. Introduced to Malta by the Phoenicians over three thousand-years-ago, rabbits became popular with the Romans as a meat which apparently made women more beautiful (though it has since retained its popularity for different reasons). Usually slow cooked for at least an hour and a half in wine, tomato and bay leaf-infused sauce, the succulent meat comes easily off the bone once served up. Head to the more than century-old bistro, Rubino, to relish it in a traditional Maltese environment.

If you’re keen to wash the traditional national dish down with something boozy, head to nearby Strait Street, full of fantastic watering holes, including Yard 32, a gin bar with a 100-page menu of over 180 gins.

Rabbit stew. Photo credit VisitMalta
Rabbit stew. Photo credit VisitMalta
Rabbit stew. Photo credit VisitMalta
Rabbit stew. Photo credit VisitMalta

4. Bragoli

Also known as ‘beef olives’, bragoli is a classic Maltese dish. Thin strips of beef are covered with bacon, egg, parsley and breadcrumbs, then rolled into small oval shapes (the ‘olive’ element). Secured with a toothpick or twine, the beef rolls are then braised in either a rich tomato or wine-based sauce. Carrots and onions can be added to the mix and popular accompaniments include mashed potato and peas. Try an upgraded version at Nenu the Baker, whose ‘wrapped veal loaf’ takes the bragoli to the next level.

Bragoli. Photo credit VisitMalta
Bragoli. Photo credit VisitMalta
Bragoli. Photo credit VisitMalta
Bragoli. Photo credit VisitMalta

5. Kannoli

Pastizzi isn’t the only popular pastry in Malta. Visitors can savour a sweet, flaky treat thanks to kannoli, fried pastry tubes traditionally filled with ricotta cheese, sugar and sometimes vanilla extract. Today, a variety of filling options abound, including chocolate, cherries, nuts and citrus fruit. Dig into this delightful delicacy at Croce Bonaci in the Cumberland Hotel on Triq San Gwann.

Kannoli. Photo credit VisitMalta
Kannoli. Photo credit VisitMalta
Kannoli. Photo credit VisitMalta
Kannoli. Photo credit VisitMalta

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