Malta is a beautiful island with plenty to offer tourists but something that's not heard about often is this country's cuisine. Influenced heavily by flavors of the Mediterranean, Maltese food is nothing short of delicious and crave-worthy. Many of the foods served there are comfort foods to the locals and while not all of them are healthy, they're all worth trying. Maltese food also varies depending on the island, location, and time of year, as some foods are eaten traditionally at certain times of the year. These are some of the must-try dishes from the beautiful island of Malta.

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Gozitan Pizza

Very different from pizza in the US or even traditional Naples pizza, Gozitan pizza comes from the island of Gozo, the sister island to the big island of Malta. The first major difference between this pizza and the pizza most is used to starts with the dough, which is often denser. The flavor of the dough is also quite unique and it's not topped with tomato sauce or meats, but rather, potatoes. The pizza is then baked and eaten for lunch or as an on the go snack.

Ftira

The closest thing that Ftira resembles is a bagel although its shape is a tad different. It's a sourdough loaf so while the texture and flavor are similar to that of a fluffy bagel, it's usually served alongside good olive oil, similar to how Italian bread is served with olive oil and herbs. It can also be served with sweet potato paste for a slightly sweet treat, but there's no limit to the number of options that can be placed atop a slice of this fresh bread.

Timpana

While pasta 'pies' are sweeping the nation, Malta was doing it long before it became an internet sensation. Timpana is made with cooked pasta, usually macaroni, and it's basically a pasta bake that's topped with cheese but the important part is the Bolognese sauce that binds the dish together. The sauce is always made from scratch with a base of minced meat, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. It might be carb overload, but it's worth the satisfying, full feeling afterward.

Gbejniet

Cheese is a big deal in Malta and it's also home to Gbejniet, which is the most popular and beloved cheese in the entire country. It starts with a base of sheep or goat's milk, rennet, and salt, and can be found in three different forms. The cheese can be fresh, cured, or even flavored, of which the most common flavoring is simply just pepper. It's also a highly versatile ingredient in Malta and can be found in ravioli as well as fried or in salads.

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Stuffat Tal-Fenek Or Maltese Rabbit stew

Rabbit stew is an extremely popular dish in Malta and something travelers will likely find just about everywhere. As an alternative to stew, they're often served fried, but it's unlikely you'll walk into a full-service restaurant without finding this on the menu in some form or another. The rabbit is cooked for a minimum of two hours to ensure maximum tenderness - as in fall of the bone tender - before being mixed with a classic Maltese blend of carrots, garlic, potatoes, celery, onions, and delicious tomato-based gravy.

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Pastizzi

One of the most popular snacks in Malta is by far the pastizzi, which can be found in many cafes around the island. In fact, they've gotten so popular for people on the go that they can be found in practically any place that sells food. The locals will say that it's common to smell pastizzi before seeing them, as the tempting scent of fried dough - similar to croissant dough - greets people before they get to the door. These pastries are traditionally served with a pea and ricotta cheese filling, making for an absolutely delicious, mouthwatering snack that it's tough to only eat one of.

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Qagħaq tal-għasel

Sweets are part of Maltese cuisine too even if much of the emphasis is on savory food and Qagħaq tal-għasel is one of the most popular. This pastry-like dessert looks as impressive as it tastes and is also called a Maltese honey ring. It's commonly served during Christmas and carnival season and begins with a layer of thin pastry dough that's then filled with a mixture of lemon, spices, cinnamon, sugar, and marmalade, which is then mixed with vanilla and syrup. It might be sweet, but it's absolutely delicious and part of Maltese tradition when it comes to celebrating.

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