Sharma | The receiving end of the spice route

The beautiful city of Mdina, though popular with the tourists offers only a handful of places locals choose to visit. Coffee and cake on the bastions or a meal at one of the few restaurants gives us an excuse to meander through the deserted streets of Mdina taking in its ancient history.

rachelzc
Rachel Zammit Cutajar
19 June 2013, 12:00am
The décor is inspired by the ancient spice route which used to run from India, through the Middle East, North Africa before landing in the Mediterranean
The décor is inspired by the ancient spice route which used to run from India, through the Middle East, North Africa before landing in the Mediterranean
Sharma is one such spot worth a visit. Offering an eclectic mix of ethnic food together with some local Mediterranean dishes and some traditionally Maltese dishes too, Sharma is a great spot for a touch of something different.

The fact that Mdina is closed to traffic is no deterrent, however precious car park space outside the city walls has recently been turned into a park, which though looks pretty, has turned a night of easy parking into the usual frenzy for a spot common in so many other areas on the island.

The walk is enough to release the parking frustration and on stepping into Sharma you are instantly transported to a different world, one that mixes traditional Maltese culture with Middle eastern treats.

The concept of the restaurant was inspired by the history of Malta and Mdina itself. Proprietor, Frank Cachia said that since the Phoenicians established Malta as one of their Mediterranean trading posts Malta has been at the crossroads of civilisations and the centre of trading routes from Morocco to Afghanistan. Trade, he said, encouraged interaction between people of different cultures sharing their cuisines as well as their ways of life.

The décor is inspired by the ancient spice route which used to run from India, through the Middle East, North Africa before landing in the Mediterranean. The magnificent Casa Magazzini, which houses the restaurant also has a large terrace on top of the bastions, great for lunch in the sun, enjoying a pre-dinner drink while watching the sun set or having a romantic meal under the stars.  

Deciding on what to eat requires strong decision-making skills. The menu includes ethnic dishes from all over, allowing you to match your own flavours. Starters include a myriad of cuisines from dips from the Middle East, baba ganoush and hummus, Indian appetizers, including samosa and pakora or simply poppadums with chutney, Arabian dolmah and boureek or simple Mediterranean fare. If you can't make up your mind you can choose platters from a single area and feast on the best they have to offer.

Mains include curries and tandooris from India, Arabic meats and stews and some fresh meats just off the grill. Also included in the mains are some of Malta's traditional local dishes, rabbit, bragoli and octopus stew.

Though the menu offers an imaginative mix of dishes from countries across the spice route, some of the dishes lack the flavour and punch generally associated with the said spice route. That being said, the meats were tender, rices and breads perfectly cooked and fried starters were crunchy yet not oily, making Sharma an ideal spot for palates that appreciate milder meals.

Considering the style of restaurant and location, when the bill comes at the end of the meal, you are pleasantly surprised. Food prices are cheap to reasonable with starters costing an average of €6 per person and mains approximately €12. What makes the bill even lighter is the wine prices which are substantially cheaper than prices expected to pay at a restaurant. If you're on a really tight budget you can bring your own wine - a concept not very popular on this island though very popular abroad - and you will be charged a corkage fee of €4.90.

The atmosphere at Sharma is warm and cosy, with friendly staff ready to cater to your every need. If you're looking for somewhere special to while away and evening at great value for money then Sharma is the ideal spot.

Sharma is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 12:00 - 16:00 and from Monday to Sunday from 18:30 onwards.

Sharma

19, Casa Magazzini,

Triq l-iMhazen,

Mdina. MDN 1201

Tel: 21453817; 99996315

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.sharma.com.mt

 

rachelzc
Rachel Zammit Cutajar graduated in economics from the University of Malta...