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The Maltese island

 

MALTA

  • Population : about 410 000 inhabitants.
  • Official languages : Maltese and English.
  • Currency : On 1st January 2008 Malta adopted the euro as its currency.
  •  Surface area : 246 km² for the Maltese island and 67 km²  for  Gozo.
  •  Density of population : 1 272 inhab./km².
  •  Capital city : Valletta
  •  Religions : The majority of the Maltese are Roman Catholic, but many other religious denominations are also represented on the islands with small but well established and active communities.


The Maltese islands truly Mediterranean.

Blessed with a mild climate and set in crystal waters, Malta and its sister islands of Gozo and Comino offer you a memorable experience, where moments of complete relaxation can be combined with the exploration of the island’s many cultural, artistic and natural treasures.

Long considered to be a microcosm of the Mediterranean and a favourite with travellers who seek an authentic island experience, our islands offer an impressive range of historical and cultural sites, together with a wide spectrum of activities, making Malta a truly unique year-round holiday destination.


 

 

 

Malta has managed to strike the right balance between traditional hospitality and a cosmopolitan spirit born of our millennial history of welcoming people from all around the region and beyond. Moreover, Malta has developed into a highly sought-after location for international movies productions, while Valletta’s majestic Grand Harbour welcomes cruise liner passengers from all over the world.


The Maltese islands are just few hours away from major European airports, and with the many scheduled, low-cost and charter flights linking Malta to a host of European and others Mediterranean countries, not to mention the excellent sea connexions to Europe, getting here could be easier !

 

Between the sun and the sea



The sun and the sea are the essence of the Maltese islands. The contrast between the glow of the sun on the islands’ rugged rock faces and the stunning deep blue of the surrounding sea offer a breath-taking spectacle to the first-time visitor.

 

 


A treasure trove of heritage and cultural



The island’ architectural heritage, spanning seven millennia, will present an impressive backdrop to all your activities. Malta and its sister islands of Gozo and Comino offer far more than the traditional Mediterranean sun and sea.


They present a veritable treasure trove of heritage and culture, both ancient and modern – a living testimony to 7,000 years of civilization.
Having three UNESCO World Heritage Sities and more monuments per square kilometre than any other country, our islands have an astonishing concentration of unique cultural and historical attractions. A troll throught our towns and villages is bound to give you that particular ‘lost in time feeling.


The construction of the islands’ megalithic temples is the source of an age-old enigma. Who were our ancestors that built these great constructions, and why? What happened to the intelligent civilisation that create these amazing temples? Through the passage of time, Malta and Gozo have attracted the attention of the great powers that domined the period. The varying extents all of them, from the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Castillians, to the Knights of St John, the French and the British, have all left traces of their influence and have woven a rich tapestry of cultures for you to discover.

 

 

Malta, a tasty island!

 

The Maltese cooking is the expression of the culinary art developed in Malta. This has been subjected to the influence of different types of cuisine, as the Italian one (especially Sicilian cooking), African, English and of other cities of Mediterranean Sea.

Some of the typical meals of Malta are:          

 

-         Cheese or Peas pastizzi

Cheese:

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • puff pastry sheet for pastizzi dough

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine egg, cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. On a lightly floured surface, roll each pastry sheet into a 10-inch square. Cut each sheet into six 3 1/2-inch rounds. Place 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture in centre of each round. Bring up two opposite edges of dough over filling and pinch to seal. Place pastries, sealed sides up, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. If desired, sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.

Peas:

Ingredients:

  • 300g dried peas
  • 100g onions, finely chopped
  • oil for frying salt, freshly-ground black pepper and curry powder
  • bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 egg, whisked with 1 tsp water
  • 750g pastizzi dough

 

Method:

Begin by washing the peas then place in a bowl, cover with plenty of water and set aside to soak for at least 5 hours. When ready to cook, prepare the pastizzi dough according to the recipe and set aside.

Wash and drain the peas, place in a pan then cover with plenty of salted water and add the bicarbonate of soda. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer then cook for about 50 minutes, or until the peas are very soft. Drain well and set aside. Heat a little oil in a pan, add the onions and fry until golden (about 8 minutes) add the peas, and mix thoroughly then season with salt, black pepper and curry powder, to taste. Take off the heat and set aside. Remove the prepared pastry from the refrigerator and roll out thinly. Cut out circles about 9cm in diameter from the pastry then brush the edges with egg wash. Put some of the pea mixture in each (offset from the centre) then fold the pastry circle in half and seal the edges together. Transfer to a lightly-greased baking tray then brush the tops with egg wash. Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 180°C and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through. Serve warm.

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-         Almond biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 400 g ground almonds
  • 400g castor sugar
  • 4 egg whites (beaten)
  • 25ml almond essence (small bottle)
  • whole almonds

Method:

Mix everything together, till the sugar disappears, and the mixture gets sticky. Roll into small balls, put on pan over rice paper (its edible paper, if you don't have, doesn't matter), then put 1/2 blanched almond on top.
Bake at a temperature of 180C for 15 minutes. If you like them soft, if you want them harder cook longer.

 

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-         Date biscuits

Ingredients:

Pastry

  • 400g plain flour
  • 100g polyunsaturated margarine
  • 150ml cold water and orange juice mixed together

Filling

  • 400g pitted dates
  • 120ml water
  • 1 spoon aniseed essence
  • ¼ spoon ground cloves
  • Grated rind of an orange
  • Rind of a mandarin, finely chopped

Method:

To make the pastry, rub the flour and margarine together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Bind the pastry together with the water and orange juice.
Place the pastry in a plastic bag and let it rest for at least 15 minutes in the fridge.
To make the filling, place the dates and water in a saucepan. Simmer until the dates soften. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and add the remainder of the ingredients. Allow to cool.
Take one fourth of the pastry and roll it in an oblong shape 10cm wide. Take one fourth of the filling and spread it in the centre.
Place the date slices on a non-stick baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.

 

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-         Kannoli

Ingredients:

  • 300g of flour
  • 30g of butter
  • 30g of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • White wine
  • Plenty of oil for frying

Filling

  • 400g of ricotta
  • 100g of plain chocolate
  • 200g of vanilla sugar

 

Method:

Mix the flour with the sugar, melted butter and sufficient wine to obtain dough of the right consistency, which you should then let stand, wrapped in a napkin, for more than an hour. Meanwhile delicately mix the ricotta with the vanilla sugar, adding the chocolate in small pieces. Mix all together well and put into the fridge. After the necessary time has passed, roll out the dough (not too thinly) and cut out some square shapes of about 10cm on each side. Roll each one around cylinders (made of metal or cane, 3.5cm in diameter), which should be greased with oil, in a diagonal sense, and folding over the external angle, which should be dampened with egg white to help them stick. Fry, a few at a time, the cannoli you have made, in plenty of boiling oil. Drain them and let them cool completely before removing them from the cylinders. Fill them with the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with icing sugar.

 

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-         Fried rabbit

Ingredients:

  • Rabbit portions
  • olive oil
  • garlic cloves
  • fresh rosemary
  • one bay leaf
  • red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • flour

 

Method:

Fry the rabbit portions in olive oil until the meat is a deep golden colour, and then put in a couple of crushed garlic cloves, some needles of fresh rosemary and a bay leaf. Add some red wine, salt and pepper, and cover the pot. Leave it to simmer until the meat is tender, which should take about 45 minutes if the rabbit is small, more if bigger. This method of frying rabbit makes thin gravy; if you prefer a thicker sauce, dust the pieces of rabbit lightly with flour before frying them.

 

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-         Fish pie (Lampuki pie)

Ingredients:

Mashed potatoes

Filling

Method:

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Cut the potatoes into 5cm chunks and boil until soft. Drain and mash with the butter, crème fraîche and warm milk. Season with salt and white pepper. Set aside and keep warm. Heat the milk in a large pan; add the smoked haddock and cod. Cut the onion in half, make an incision in one of the halves and insert the bay leaf. Push the cloves into the same onion half and place this into the pan with the milk and fish. Bring the milk up to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 6-7 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop the remaining half onion and the leeks. Heat the butter with the olive oil in a small frying pan and gently fry the onion and the leeks for 4-5 minutes to soften, but not brown. Remove the fish from the pan, and set aside to cool slightly. Keep the milk in the pan. Add the flour to the leeks and stir well to combine. Fry for one minute, stirring frequently. Gradually spoon in the milk from poaching the fish, and stir it in well each time. Add all the milk in this way, and heat gently until the sauce has thickened. Taste the sauce for seasoning, and add more salt or pepper if necessary. Break the fish into chunks, being careful to feel for any bones and remove any skin, then fold the fish pieces into the sauce. Add the raw prawns and frozen peas to the mixture. Place an ovenproof pie dish onto a baking tray (this will catch any of the mix that bubbles over when cooking). Spoon the fish mixture into the bottom of the ovenproof dish. Sprinkle fresh chopped parsley and grated lemon zest over the top. Carefully top with the cooled mashed potato. Use a fork to spread the mash over the pie and create a rough texture on top. Dot the pie with the remaining half of the butter and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden-brown and bubbling.

 

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-         Kapunata

Ingredients:

 

Method:

Peel and dice eggplants. Arrange in the colander and sprinkle with salt (removes acidity). Leave to drain for about 20 minutes, rinse. Bring to boil approx 1 liter of water. Wash celery stalks, chop them place in boiling water for 1 min. Remove celery from boiling water and place tomatoes in boiling water for 1 min. Peel tomatoes and finely dice celery. De-seed pepper. Thinly slice (approx half a cm wide by about 2 cms long) place the aubergine in frying pan with about 5 tablespoons of oil and gently sauté till brown (approx ten minutes) on a low heat. Peel and chop onion, peel and mince garlic. Place in saucepan with about 5 tablespoons of oil and sauté on a fairly high heat. When the onion is translucent add the celery, pepper, tomato puree and the sugar. Fry for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes, pepper and salt, reduce the heat and simmer for about ten minutes. Add the vinegar, aubergines, capers and olives. Mix, cover and simmer gently for twenty minutes adjust seasoning – add any herbs you fancy, bit of thyme or basil or parsley. Stir and simmer uncovered for 10 – 20 minutes, adding a bit of water to prevent drying out. The texture should be quite creamy, like a thick sauce serve hot or cold, as a main meal with fresh crusty Maltese bread or as an accompaniment to meat, fish or hard-boiled eggs.

 

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-         Braġioli

Ingredients:

  • 8 thinly sliced pieces of beef the size of your palm
  • 8 slices lean bacon
  • 2 hard boiled eggs quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 2 large potatoes quartered
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 150g tomato paste
  • Good handful parsley finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • toothpicks to fasten
  • Optional - a little red wine and 1 can of peas

Preparation:

  • Place the first slice of beef on a chopping board and place a piece of bacon on top.
  • Add a quarter of a hard boiled egg over the bacon and sprinkle with parsley.
  • Roll up into a tight roll and place toothpicks in the middle and at both ends to seal and hold everything in place.

Repeat the above process to prepare the rest of the Braġioli.

Cooking:

Heat a small amount of oil in a large pot and brown Braġioli, then remove from pot. Add chopped onions and garlic and saute until soft. Add tomato paste with a little water and stir until combined. Add Braġioli to the pot and just cover with boiling water. Add potatoes, stock cube, remaining parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 1 hour. The sauce is traditionally served over spaghetti as a starter and the beef olives and potatoes are served as the main meal.

 

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-         Ħobż biż-Żejt (Bread with oil)

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf crusty bread
  • Good olive oil
  • 6 juicy tomatoes, or one can tomato paste
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pickled capers
  • Sliced ripe olives

 

Method:

Pour the olive oil into a plate. Slice the bread, then dip one side of each slice into the oil. Squeeze out the excess. If using fresh tomatoes, slice them in half then rub the cut side over the bread until it is red. If using tomato paste, just spread over the bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add capers, olive slices, flakes of tuna and other ingredients on top.

 

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-         Aljotta (Fish Soup)

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions - chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 large spoon tomato paste kunserva
  • olive oil
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 6 small Fish (you can use heads and tails of bigger fish)
  • 1 lemon
  • fresh mint
  • majoram (merqtux)
  • salt

Method:

Slowly fry the chopped onions in oil.
Add the garlic, the mint, the marjoram, the tomatoes and the tomato paste.
Cook slowly for about 5 - 10 minutes
Add the fish, the wine and the water (with some salt added) and cook for 30 minutes.
Towards the end of the cooking time you can add the rice. The aljotta is not meant to have a thick or heavy consistency but should look more like a fish broth.

 

The typical drinks in Malta are:

Kinnie (soft drink)                and Cisk (beer)   

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