The 29th of June will see hordes of people flocking to Buskett to partake in the annual L-Imnarja festivities. One of the island’s longest-celebrated feasts, it’s considered by many to be the most important on the Maltese calendar. Honouring the feasts of St. Peter and St. Paul, its traditions have changed quite a bit over the centuries, eventually settling on the collection of festivities we know today.
In light of this, Heritage Malta’s Taste History took the time to research and learn about six very old Maltese dishes that were believed to have been eaten at Imnarja across the years.
They then actually recreated and served these dishes to people at Taste Mnarja, which went down at the Grand Master’s Hunting Lodge last Sunday. A project piloted by the two Birgu museums – the Malta Maritime Museum and the Inquisitor’s Palace – Taste Mnarja aimed to recreate some of Malta’s old dishes. And when we say old, we really mean it; dishes from the 18th century made it onto the table!
But if you weren’t one of the lucky ones who managed to experience these pieces of history, don’t fret! The organisers released a booklet containing all the dishes, and even included a few recipes for those culinary enthusiasts who’d like to give them a go.
1. History Bites
This dish is a Maltese culturalist’s dream. Fresh irkotta, Maltese aged sheep’s cheese, indivia and air dried salsiccia would be perfectly delicious on their own, but when you add in some ħobż tal-maħlut and olive oil, you’ve got the best thing since sliced (Maltese!) bread.
2. Ġbejna tal-Hhascisc e rihh
In case we didn’t fangirl enough over ġbejna before, this dish takes the local favourite, wraps it in Hhascisc e rihh leaves (ħaxix ir-riħ) and then adds white wine to it.
And, as a testament to the work put in by Heritage Malta and the people at Muża, this recipe dates back to 1766!
3. L-Imqarrun tad-Dumnikani
A very distant relative to the modern-day carbonara, this pasta dish is served with fresh eggs, pepper and saffron. If your mouth isn’t watering yet, just take a look at these presentation skills.
4. An intermezzo of Aggiazzata di Limoni
Dating back to 1748, this iced lemon granita looks stunning, and judging by the recipe provided, seems easy enough to make at home.
You might need to Google what a quartuccio is, though.
5. Pasticcio con carne di Coniglio
We all know that the Maltese love a good fenkata, and even as far back as 1741, rabbit was used to create some spectacular dishes.
In this recipe, the meat is cooked into a pie along with various vegetables and herbs. And, again, presentation is a 10 out of 10.
6. Arangi Gelati
Thanks to the Knights of St. John, citrus fruits have become something of a staple on the Maltese Islands, and this orangey desert is the perfect tribute to that.
Dating back to 1748, this bitter orange sorbet has quite a few steps, but shouldn’t be too difficult to make at home with a little practice.
Have you ever tasted "Il-Ġbejna tal-Ħaxix u r-Riħ?" – A Maltese traditional lunch was served for the launch of this year's edition of #MNARJA2019 – 28-29 June 2019 @ Buskett.
Posted by Ambjent on Tuesday, June 25, 2019
This Saturday, the feast takes to the shade of Buskett for a celebration that goes back centuries
Heritage Malta, in collaboration with various government agencies, will be hosting many more events celebrating L-Imnarja, ranging from a fruit and vegetable exhibition to a dog show, and even a talk from the President of Malta, so there’s bound to be something for you and your family to get excited about.