Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these essential ingredients.
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15 May 2013 - 4:11 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Kunserva

This rather sweet tomato paste is used in pasta sauces, to boost any dish with tomatoes in it as well as in the favourite national snack called hobz biz-zejt.

Extra virgin olive oil

Olive trees grow in abundance on the rocky island. Olive oil is used liberally in the cuisine as salad dressings and as cooking oil.

Pulses

Green split peas are popular for soups and in the famous mushy pea filling for pastizzi. Broad beans are used in soups and the beloved bigilla dip eaten with crusty bread.

Capers

Capers grow wild along the roadside and are used in many dishes. They are essential in the ultimate Maltese/Mediterranean open sandwich known as hobz biz-zejt. 

Hobz biz-zejt

Hobz Biz-Zejt- is an open sandwich made with thick slices of crusty bread with a thin layer of kunserva (tomato paste), then topped with a range of toppings including tuna and capers.

Bread

Maltese bread is similar to crusty Italian bread in texture. Used in simple dishes like hobz biz-zejt and puddina.

Pasta

Pasta is a staple but used differently to neighbouring Italy as spaghetti and macaroni are often baked in dishes, such as timpana, rather than served immediately from the pot.

Gbejniet

Gbejniet is the name for a number of cheeses adored by Maltese people. Gbejniet is generally made with cow's milk.  There is a soft fresh cheese that is like a silky cross between mozzarella and ricotta; a sun dried version of the same cheese which hardens after a month into a sweet nutty little round of cheese; and a third version is the hard cheese rolled in a pepper powder which is served with grapes or figs or as part of an antipasto.

Ravjul

Larger than Italian ravioli, the traditional filling for ravjul is ricotta cheese seasoned with parsley and salt. The other point of difference is cooking time -generally the Maltese like a softer texture and cook pasta longer than the Italian al dente.

Pastizzi

Dozens of layers of flaky pastry filled with a variety of fillings, the most traditional being ricotta and mushy peas.