Cyprus Cuisine
Cyprus Cuisine

A visit to Cyprus wouldn’t be complete without trying some of the traditional Cypriot dishes and delicacies. The food is related to Greek cuisine and Turkish cuisine, but also includes influences from Byzantine, French, Italian, Catalan, Ottoman and Middle Eastern cuisines. Cypriot food and drink is largely identical to Greek food, however, Cypriots themselves consider their cuisine to be far superior and point out differences, both in quality and sometimes in ingredients. For example, the Cypriot koupepia (stuffed vine leaves) contain minced meat as well as rice, whereas the Greek equivalent (dolmades) doesn’t.

Cypriot Souvlaki

Every corner in Cyprus from the towns to the villages have traditional souvlaki shops that serve lamb, pork or chicken cooked on a skewer as a kebab in large pita bread with tomatoes and cucumbers and white cabbage. Raw onion and parsley are very popular with souvlakia in Cyprus, as are pickled green chilli peppers. Like all grilled meat dishes in Cyprus, souvlakia are always accompanied by fresh lemon halves or quarters, and plain thick yogurt or tzatziki are also popular accompaniments.

Afelia

A traditional Cypriot specialty made from pork, red wine, mushrooms, potatoes and coarsely crushed coriander seed. Afelia is usually served with bulgur and yogurt.

Meze

Meze - Literally means "small dishes." A style of eating that has many different courses, but each course contains just a little of each item, enough for everyone to have a taste. Every taverna offers a Meze with a variety of dishes available. The standard meze is either meat or fish for the main dishes and a number of small, side dishes ranging from salads, potatoes and eggs to hummus and tarmasalata.

Halloumi

A Cypriot cheese made from sheep or goat milk. Halloumi was initially made during the Medieval Byzantine period (AD 395 – 1191), by the local Greek population. Halloumi has a high melting point and is usually fried or grilled. It is often garnished with mint to add to the taste.

Horiatiki Salata

A Greek or country salad, Horiatiki means village-style. It is made of tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, feta cheese, olives, olive oil, and vinegar - but no lettuce.

Hummus

A dip made from chickpeas and tahini. This is nearly always served as part of a meze however, it is originally Lebanese.

Sheftalia

A grilled Cypriot sausage made of pork, lamb, onions, parsley, salt and pepper wrapped in a membrane of a lamb or a pigs stomach. They are put on skewers and the sheftalia are then grilled, preferably on charcoal until golden brown, for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Macaronia Tou Fournou

Makaronia tou Fournou means pasta baked in the oven and is a common dish in Cyprus, often served as a main course, with a salad but an essential dish during any celebration. It is similar to Greek pastitsio with a different flavour and of course lots of halloumi in it. The Cyprus version also uses cinnamon as its main spice but with very little tomato and generous amounts of mint.

Lountza

Lountza is a meat delicacy of Cyprus of dried, smoked pork tenderloin. To produce lountza, pork tenderloin is first soaked in brine and then marinated in red wine. The marinated tenderloin is then dried and smoked. After smoking, lountza can be packaged or left to age; during the aging process it becomes harder and more strongly flavoured.

Lountza can be served cooked or uncooked as an accompaniment with drinks in a bar or taverna. Grilled lountza served with other Cypriot delicacies such as halloumi and kefalotyri cheese often appear in meze platters. Sandwiches made out of grilled lountza and halloumi are favourite fast food snacks for Cypriots.

Ambelopoulia

This is a controversial dish of grilled, pickled or boiled songbirds that are a traditional dish enjoyed by native Cypriots and served in some Cypriot restaurants. It is illegal in Cyprus as it involves trapping wild birds such as Blackcaps and European Robins. Enforcement of the ban has been lax, so many restaurants serve the dish without consequence.

Cyprus Potatoes

Cyprus potatoes are long and waxy with a unique taste and are exported worldwide. Cypriots love them baked in the oven, preferably the outdoor beehive fourni. Many Cypriots add salt, cumin, oregano, and some finely sliced onion. When they barbecue, some Cypriots put potatoes into foil and sit them in the charcoal to make them like jacket potatoes – served with butter or as a side dish to salad and meat.

Cyprus Desserts

Flaouna

Flaouna are a special Easter and Ramadan food eaten in Cyprus by the mainly Orthodox Greeks and Muslim Turkish Cypriots. They are a cheese filled pastry, which sometimes also include raisins or can be garnished with sesame seeds.

They are traditionally prepared on the Good Friday for consumption on Easter Sunday by Orthodox Christians. They are eaten in place of bread on Easter Sunday, and continue to be made and eaten for the weeks following.

Loukoumia

Cyprus delights, or loukoumia, are one of Cyprus's protected geographical indication (PGI) by the European Union. Is a type of Turkish Delight. The main centres for its production are Yeroskipou near Paphos and Lefkara near Larnaca.

Soujoukos

A similar looking sweet to loukoumia is soujoukos, although it is made very differently from loukoumia, being produced from boiled grape juice that makes a grape jelly known as palouze.

Soujoukos is made with almonds or walnuts, shelled and soaked to turn soft, and then sewn onto a cotton thread of around 2m lengths. The thread is dipped several times in finished palouze, a process that may take several days since each layer has to dry on the string before a new one is put.

Every time it is dipped, a new layer of palouze is added on the previous one until its diameter reaches four to six centimeters. Soujoukos is then left to dry for five to six days, losing much of its moisture, thus increasing its shelf life. It is then cut in slices 2-3 cm thick and served as a natural sweet snack.