Spice markets are typically associated with Marrakech and Istanbul, but don’t be fooled. One of Valletta’s best kept secrets is a tiny corner shop with a unique aroma that you will sense way before you actually walk inside. George Zammit’s spice shop is a favourite haunt with the locals and restaurant chefs alike, mostly thanks to the secret concoctions that have been passed on through generations to the current owner.
The shop itself is located a two minute walk from St John’s Co-Cathedral, in the direction of Grand Harbour. Small and unassuming, it would be very easy to miss, but we promise that you only need to follow your nose to find it.
Walk inside and be prepared to be mesmerised – not just by the sheer range of spices and seasonings showcased in jars, but also by the friendliness of the owner. George Zammit’s spice shop is known as Tal-Ħwawar, which translates to ‘ of spices’ in Maltese, and the shop has been operational for close to 140 years – since 1888, in fact.
George Zammit spice shop – a journey of discoveries
George Zammit spice shop’s legacy of charm and a wish to help and inform customers has survived across the decades, so do feel free to ask questions and to sample what’s on offer. The running philosophy is that all the wares are kept on show precisely so that the customer knows exactly what they’re buying, and can choose the customised blends that suit them best.
Our tip is to ask for the Good Friday mix, which is Malta’s answer to the famed ras el hanout. This is a blend of 20 spices, topped up with wine and citrus and allowed to simmer on a low flame. The concoction works beautifully as a natural aromatic diffuser, and is used across churches in Malta throughout Holy Week, the strong smell now synonymous with Easter celebrations. If you’re really lucky, you might even chance upon some of their spiced rum in stock, wonderfully hearty if it’s your tipple of choice.