A holiday to Cyprus wouldn’t be complete without trying some of the traditional Cypriot dishes and delicacies. And since food is an essential element of any and every social occasion in Cyprus, we have compiled a list of must- eat dishes while in Cyprus.
Being in the crossroads of three continents, the local Cypriot cuisine has been very much influenced culturally by its neighbors, whilst simultaneously instilling its own unique blend of history and tradition. The island’s geographical position and its history have resulted in a very interesting merge of Greek, Turkish, Arabic, Italian and English culinary influences that compose a mouth-watering culinary symphony. Cypriots love food, so it is does not come as a surprise that the country’s cuisine is so expansive.
TOP 10 DISHES TO TASTE
This list could be endless, so I’ve chosen to highlight a mix of must-eats and more unusual fare.
- Mezze – 20 plus tapas like tasting plates designed for sharing. Usually being meat (and veg) with fish meze options available. Needless to say, pace yourself.
- Souvla and souvlaki – chunks of meat (pork, lamb and chicken) skewered and grilled over charcoal marinated with herbs and spices. Souvla refers to larger chunks of meat, whereas souvlaki is the traditional kebab.
- Sheftalia – minced pork soft sausages, more like meatballs (wrapped in intestine lining) and grilled over charcoal. Usually accompanies souvlaki and is served with salad in oval-shaped cypriot pitta bread.
- Kleftiko – slow-cooked lamb on the clay oven served on the bone with sliced potatoes. Traditionally slowly cooked in outdoor clay ovens for 4 – 6 hours.
- Ravioles – part of the culinary legacy left by the Venetians who ruled Cyprus from 1489 to 1571. Similar to Italian ravioli, these pasta parcels are stuffed with halloumi cheese and simmered in chicken broth.
- Kolokasi and poulles – taro has been grown here since Roman times. Chunks of taro root are simmered with pork or chicken in a sauce of caramelised tomatoes, onions and celery, spiked with lemon juice. Alternatively try the moreisly good sauteed, coriander coated baby taro ‘poulles’.
- Halloumi – a semi-hard, unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk,. It’s set to receive the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin status soon. Wonderful when toasted in a Cypriot Pita bread , or with chilled watermelon slices on a hot summer’s day .
- Koupepia – fresh vine leaves stuffed with minced pork and rice, marinated with herbs and fresh tomato juice.
- Pastelaki – sticky toffee biscuit like sweet from carob bean juice (carob honey) and pressed with peanuts and sesame seeds. This can also be done with honey and different kind of nuts.
- Loukoumades – deep fried mini doughnuts sizzling hot and straight out of the frying pan. Served drizzled with sugar syrup or more recently melted chocolate sauce.