Mallorcan Food: We explore Mallorca Traditional food in this roundup of the best things to eat in Palma de Mallorca and elsewhere on the Island. We cover top Mallorcan dishes as well as Mallorcan desserts and beverages to try. Mallorca cuisine combines classic Mediterranean cooking with historic influences from the Roman Empire, the Moors and North Africa as well as more recent influence from Catalonia and Spain.
We’ll look not just at the most traditional Mallorcan food, but at some of the ways, contemporary restaurants are updating classic Mallorca cuisine.
So let’s get started – learn about the history and flavours of Mallorca food below.
Mallorcan Food: Table Of Contents
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Brief History Of Mallorcan Food
Mallorca (or Majorca in English) is the largest island of the Balearic island chain off the north east coast of Spain.
As with most of the world, Mallorca cuisine has been in constant flux over the centuries based on the influences of those who lived in or conquered the region. Also influenced trade and on local produce depending on the climate. Mallorca has had a huge variety of influences over the past few thousand years and Mallorcan Food incorporates the influences of its neighbours while also having some distinct cuisine of its own.
What are the major influences? Here is a quick run down of who has occupied Mallorca:
- Archeological evidence shows habitation as far back as Neolithic times (6,000 to 4,000 BC)
- From the 8th century BC, The Phoenician’s were in charge, and this led eventually to governance from one of their principle cities, Carthage, in North Africa.
- The Romans took over in 123 BC. They ruled for much of the next thousand years with occasional invasion from other forces such as the Vandals in 427 AD.
- Eventually, the islands were taken by the Moors from North Africa in 907AD, who also conquered all of Southern Spain.
- Various Moorish rulers held dominion over Mallorca until forces from Catalan took the islands in 1230 AD
- Catalan remained in charge until 1715 AD when the war of the Spanish succession led to the unification of the country of Spain, incorporating Mallorca as part of the modern day Balearic island region, ruled by Spain.
What the history shows is that traditional Mediterranean influences have combined with Muslim/Moorish cuisines, Catalan cuisine and general Spanish cooking tradition. This is reflected in the variety of Mallorcan dishes available.
Mallorca Cuisine: Top 5 Must Try Mallorcan Dishes
There is so much Mallorcan food to try that if you are on a short trip you’ll never get to try it all. First up, our top 5 things to try if you are on a short trip or are only looking to try the most typical options.
Sobrasada is a cured pork sausage made with pork loin, pork belly/bacon, paprika, salt and pepper. Sometimes cayenne pepper.
The tradition of making cured pork sausage all but disappeared during the period of muslim rule but was reintroduced when Catalan conquered the islands. The addition of paprika came soon after paprika was brought to Mallorca, probably between the 16th and 17th century. Today the Sobrasada has gained an IGP (PGI in English: Protected Geographical Indication) meaning its character and production is preserved using strict guidelines. This also limits where the product can be made.
Sobrasada differs from other Spanish Chorizo partly due to the climate. High humidity and mild winters are an essential part of the curing process. It leads to a much softer sausage.
The traditional matança (matanza in Spanish) is the time late in the year where local families gather for the annual pig slaughter. It’s at this time they make Sobrasada and other pork products which will be prepared to keep families stocked up on pork until the next annual slaughter.
Many forms and sizes of Sobrasada are available from the small llonganissa to the larger cular or pultrums, and the largest bufetes or bisbe. Smaller sausages cure more quickly, meaning that product readiness would spread through the year giving a constant supply of pork sausage year round.
It’s easy to find Sobrasada in every market in Palma de Mallorca, as well as on most menus. It is added to many dishes to give flavor too. In fact, in poorer times in history, where fresh meat was not a weekly option, families relied on Sobrasada as there one source of regular pork and so it has been incorporated into numerous dishes.
Coca Mallorquina, Coca de Trempó & Trempó Salad
Coca is Mallorca’s popular form of dough – made with flour, water, olive oil, yeast and salt. It’s used to make many dishes. A traditional local flour for the dough is xeixa flour made from the Xeixa wheat variety – an ancient grain. It produces a very dark bread.
Trempó is Mallorca’s traditional salad made from finely diced onions, bell peppers and tomatoes.
Coca de Trempó is the combination of the two – a sort of baked salad pizza bread, Mallorcan style. But the flavour is quite far from being a pizza. The Coca can be crispy like a biscuit – not like an Italian thin and crispy pizza – and of course, there is no cheese. Instead, the coca is fully loaded with toppings.
Though Coca de Trempó may be one of the most popular varieties, you can find Coca Mallorquina topped with all variety of veg, meats and seafood.
We had a terrific Coca de Trempó with fresh little sardines added at Clandesti restaurant as part of their cooking class program.
One of the most famous Mallorcan foods, Ensaïmada is an incredibly light and quite flaky pastry (sort of like a croissant) that gains it’s incredible texture from lard. In fact, the word sïam means lard. It’s lightness and flavour also derive from the specific way it’s made. The flour and lard based dough is rolled paper thin, then smeared excessively with more lard, rolled into a tube and then coiled together into a round pastry.
The shaped dough is left to ferment and rise for typically 12 hours, but for some bakers, up to 48 hours. Then it’s baked at high temperatures. All the air from the fermentation process expands suddenly, and the lard allows the many paper thin layers to separate, hence the incredibly light result.
Mallorca claims the Ensaïmada originated there. The exact conception of the dish is unclear, with the earliest written recipes dating only to the mid 18th century. One Legend claims that a Jewish baker presented the sweet pastry to Jaume I of Aragon when he conquered Mallorca on 31st December 1229. Food historians generally believe the pastry may have come about during the Moorish rule, before 1229. Lard would have been forbidden at that time but the Ensaïmada could have been invented based on an earlier, similar pastry called bulemes dolces where the fat would have been a sort of sheep milk butter instead.
The dish is so important that it has gained an IGP (PGI) status too. We certainly saw a lot of people on the plane carrying on their own take away ensaïmada in the typical octagonal cardboard box. You just can’t get pastry quite like this anywhere else.
Try this and many other delicacies at Fornet De La Soca – Where they are trying to re-discover and re-create the historic recipes of the region.
This is not the most famous Mallorcan dish but it’s made my top 5 because it was my favourite of the traditional Mallorcan food I tried. It’s very simple. Squid is stewed in a sauce of tomato, onion, garlic and spicy paprika. Add a bay leaf and cook until the squid starts to soften just a bit.
What gives it unique flavour is the squid. You can really taste the sea in this dish. It absorbs the salty seafood and that gives the tomato sauce a real punch, along with the chili, of course. If you are not a fan of strong seafood flavour, this will not be for you. But I loved it!
At Mercat 1930 you’ll find a selection of cooked food stalls in a well presented communal eating hall – themed to be a crossover of 1930s and contemporary. Each stall focuses on a different cuisine, and Cocina Mallorquina specialises in traditional Mallorcan food, like Pica Pica.
Tumbet (or Tombet) is a local favourite due to its simplicity and cheap ingredients. It dates back to the 16th century because it is mostly a new world fusion dish – made with potatoes, tomato, bell peppers but also old world ingredients like eggplant (aubergine), garlic and olive oil.
The vegetables should be fried and then the tomato sauce with the garlic is made separately. Then the two parts of the dish are combined. A good vegetarian / vegan option. It can be served as a tapas, side dish, or main dish.
Tumbet is considered to be the Mallorcan version of ratatouille, having likely derived from that culinary influence brought via Catalan.
In This Episode:
- Sobrassada – The regionally protected Mallorcan sausage that’s very different from chorizo. But why are they all different sizes? It’s nothing to do with commercialism, it’s actually a food science thing…
- Also, Ensaimada: An epically flaky, geographically protected pastry – We explain how Mallorca’s calorifically delicious dessert is made so light using an unexpected secret ingredient
- Plus Mallorcan Cabbage rolls – and the nifty secret to making the perfect cabbage roll
THE BELOW ARTICLE IS A COMPANION – NOT A TRANSCRIPT
Mallorca Food: Products, Starters & Snacks
Already Mentioned in the top 5 above:
- Sobrasada – Mallorcan cured sausage
- Coca Mallorquina, Coca de Trempó & Trempó Salad
A local stuffed pastry that is long with the crimp on the top. Fillings vary from vegetables to a meat veg mix and even seafood.
You’ll find Cocarrois in most bakeries in Mallorca, give them a try at one of Palma’s oldest bakeries: Forn Fondo (Opened in 1911)
Botifarron & Botifarra
Black Botifarron (Sometimes spelt Bottifaró) is a traditional Mallorcan pork sausage made with blood and liver (And sometimes other organs) and spiced with ingredients like black pepper and fennel.
Typically, if tied with a white string it is less spiced than those tied with a red string. Botifarron is a raw meat sausage that is normally boiled, or boiled then grilled before eating.
You will also find a white botifarron, without blood, which is sometimes spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. Available to buy in most markets, it is also a common ingredient in other dishes (like lomo con col, see below)
We ate this boiled then bbq’s botifarron at Gastroteca Mauricio – along with plenty of other amazing dishes.
Mallorcan Empanada (Panades)
The Mallorcan version of empanadas, called panades is made in a cylindrical shape and filled with peas, onions, and often lamb or sobrasada. The pastry is made with Saïm – lard.
Mallorca is a top producer of olives and olive oil. They have many varieties of olives, my favourite was the Panceda variety. Harvested either green or black. The black were the winners.
Mallorcan Olive Oil
Where there are olives, there is olive oil. There are many to choose from. My top pick was the Solivellas.
Local Cheese From Mallorca & Minorca
When I spoke to the cheese master at Sagla Queseria, the first thing he said was “Cheese from Mallorca is not that good”. He insisted the best cheese from the region was the Queso de Mahón from the neighbouring island of Minorca (Menorcan Cuisine). The dark yellow aged version I tried was amazing. If you like strong cheese, think of this a cross between mature cheddar and a 36 month Parmigiano Reggiano. Salty and intense, Queso de Mahón is a raw cow’s milk cheese.
The less exciting Queso de Mallorca – which translates as Cheese of Mallorca – Is a much creamier and lighter cheese, made from sheep milk. Still very quaffable but relatively lacking in depth.
Go try a wide selection of cheese at Sagla Queseria, Mercat de l’Olivar
Pa’amb oli might simply mean “bread with olive oil” but this little starter/snack is better than it’s plain sounding name would lead you to believe. Also popular in Catalonia, bread is rubbed with garlic, raw tomato and then topped with olive oil and salt. When using the best, freshest ingredients, you can’t beat simplicity.
Need Accommodation In Palma de Mallorca:
Mallorca Food: Main Courses, Meats & Seafood
Already mentioned in the top 5 above:
- Pica Pica
Lomo Con Col
Cabbage rolls have existed perhaps since the stone age (No really, we talked about cabbage rolls in our Romanian food article & podcast). Mallorca’s version is meat heavy and includes pine nuts and raisins.
The Negre Mallorquí, or Mallorcan black pig, is native to the Balearic islands and is a very fatty breed. For lomo con col, pork is pan fried and wrapped in cabbage with a variety of possible ingredients that can include sobrasada, apricot, pine nuts and raisins.
A typical and versatile Mallorcan food. Frito Mallorquin is pan fried vegetables from the island (like peppers, onions, eggplant, potatoes, artichokes), fried with lamb or lamb organs or both. The pieces are diced very small.
We opted for a less organ filled version which was entirely vegetarian and featured tempura artichokes, at Cuit Restaurant, Hotel Nakar, Palma.
Arroz Brut (Arròs brut)
Arròs brut translates as dirty rice. This refers to the sheer mess of ingredients that dirty up the rice. The traditional version is normally made with rabbit or chicken liver, and a selection of all different meats and vegetables, depending on what is available. It’s best when cooked in a heavy bottom pan and it bares a resemblance to Spanish Paella, cooking in meat stock and spices.
Porcella & The Mallorquina Black Pig
Porcella is whole suckling pig. Also called lechon. The local fatty black pigs work well in this dish that has spread all around the world – though it’s hard to trace the origin of the first porcella.
Technically Sopas Mallorquinas is a soup. But the key method with making this is they mix bread into the pan which soaks up the liquid and makes a denser, slightly soupy mix. Seasonal veg and perhaps some botifarron are diced small and it’s all mixed together to make some warming, salty comfort food.
Caldereta is a Spanish soup/stew that is made differently all over the world. In the Philippines, it may be made with goat or beef. In Mallorca, the most popular caldereta is a seafood stew, and sometimes a lobster stew (caldereta de langosta)
Caragols / Caracoles a la Mallorquina
Snails cooked in white wine, normally with some botifarron, onion, tomatoes and sometimes chili.
Burballes is a Mallorcan artisanal pasta. Short pieces about the width of tagliatelle. They come in two versions: llisa (smooth) and arrisada (crimped – pictured above).
Burballes is also the name of the stew/soup which includes the pasta along with a meat. Tradition suggests hare as the main meat but this dish is made with all different meats today – lamb, goat, chicken, rabbit, even pigeon.
Recipes vary. The version we had at Clandesí featured goat and was spiced with cinnamon. Other recipes may be less spiced.
Callos a la Mallorquina
Callos is a traditional Spanish dish that is claimed to hail from Madrid. In Madrid the dish is made from local ingredients – beef tripe and chorizo, made as a stew with onions and chickpeas.
The Callos a la Mallorquina substitutes with their own local ingredients, pork tripe and botifarron. This dish is traditionally popular around the Matança – the celebration of killing the pig.
Verderol a la Mallorquina
Verderol is a type of fish. Locals found it hard to translate for us, calling it the lemon fish in English. Specifically, it refers to a small/young fish, and Google suggests it is of the amberjack family, though little information is available. Because the verderol spawns in the waters near Mallorca, they are permitted to catch the juvenile fish which may otherwise get thrown back in other regions.
The traditional Mallorcan food version is with spinach and sweet onion baked on top of the fish. The contemporary version we loved saw the verderol lightly seared and topped with sauteed spinach and onion. One of my favourite dishes in Palma. Eaten at Clandestí.
Squid a la Mallorquina
A dish we sadly were unable to track down. Maria Obrador, one of the staff at Mercat 1930, recommended this as one of the best seafood dishes on the island. Squid stuffed with ground pork, pine nuts and parsley. Then Baked and served in a fresh tomato sauce. An alternative meatless version focuses on the squid stuffed with just the tomato sauce.
Mallorcan Desserts & Mallorcan Drinks
Already Mentioned in the top 5 above:
Mallorca’s herbal spirit with a strong aniseed flavour but also made with a variety of other herbs which can include chamomile, fennel, mint, orange, rosemary lemon, lemon verbena and marjoram.
Hierbas has a PDO (Protected designation of origin) status, meaning it can only be made in Mallorca.
Mallorca has a long history of wine production, being known for their viticulture even during Roman occupation. The island features at least 40 indigenous grape varieties and you’ll find it tricky to get Mallorcan wine elsewhere in the world as they don’t export a lot. So you better get drinking while you are there!
Some local grapes to look out for:
- Manto Negro – Mallorca’s most popular red grape. Typically creates high alcohol, medium bodied wines with aromas of cherry, caramel and lilac.
- Callet – a low tannic red grape often served as a young table wine, or blended with Cabernet.
- Moll (Prensal Blanc) – a light, refreshing white grape, often blended with Chardonnay.
See Wine Tour Options For Mallorca.
Cocarrois (Sweet Version)
The local cocarrois pastry we mentioned above can also be made as a dessert where it is filled with cream and dusted with sugar. It’s most traditionally made for Semana Santa – the Easter celebration.
Coca De Patatas
A sweetened potato bread only made in the mountain village of Valldemossa. Made from potatoes, sugar and pork lard.
Albaricoque – the word means apricot and also refers to a sponge cake with apricot in the centre.
A hard almond biscuit. The origin of Carquinyols is unclear as it is popular all around the Spanish & Italian coast as well as the islands in between. Often eaten as an after dinner snack with a small glass of sweet wine.
Pastis de Pobre
A modern Mallorcan food. Pastis de pobre means “poor cake” and it came about almost by accident, in the 1980s, when cake makers at Can Roca cake shop in Manacor searched around for leftovers to make a quick cake from some friends who were visiting.
Layers of sweet vanilla cream between layers of pasta de mil hojas (a sort of crispy puff pastry), topped with bruleed egg yolk and coconut stuck to the sides.
Flaó, sometimes called flaons elsewhere, exists in quite a few parts of Spain and Catalonia. But Ibiza, which neighbours Mallorca, claims to have had the dish before they were occupied by the Catalonians in the 13th century. The earliest written reference is from 1252, and even if the dish was not invented in Ibiza, their version is unique.
Ibizan Flaó is a sort of cheesecake made with cottage cheese, eggs, sugar and mint – sometimes aniseed is added. The Ibizan version is more like a pie. The Mallorcan food version we found at Fornet De La Soca differs in form but includes the mint flavour which is believed to highlight the Moorish influence that existed pre 13th century.
Flaó was traditionally eaten on Easter Sunday – a time of year where the cheese would have been creamiest and most abundant.
Greixonera de Brossat
Sources disagree on the origin of this dessert being a Mallorca food or from Ibiza. Greixonera de Brossat is another cottage cheese dessert – made from requeson, Spanish style ricotta. Cinnamon and lemon zest is added to liven up the cheesecake. The version we had was also topped with pine nuts.
Accommodation In Palma de Mallorca
Find a place to stay in Mallorca’s atmospheric capital, Palma.
Our Top Pick: Brondo Architect Hotel
Right in the heart of Palma, Brondo Architect hotel will thrill your senses with boutique artistry in an updated historic building.
The combination of old architecture and a blend of old and new interior design leads to many spaces in the hotel giving a sense of curiosity and excitement. I loved the restaurant design. The terrace is shady, with outdoor heating for winter and is a little more modern than the interior.
The lobby is compact with a dazzling sense of Mallorca in it’s adorned walls. Every room in the hotel is boutique, featuring different artwork, tiling and shape because the rooms have been built into a classic building and have been fitted to the original dimensions.
Comfortable beds, and good wooden shutters for a peaceful night’s sleep.
More accommodation options in Palma de Mallorca
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