10 Traditional Cypriot Dishes To Taste
10 Traditional Cypriot Dishes to Taste
Whether it is the sun or crystal blue waters that attract you to Cyprus, its rich and colourful cuisine is certain to enrich your taste palette and leave you wanting more.
Food is a big part of the local culture as meals are an important part of the day and quite a social habit. Cypriot gastronomy, influenced by various cultures, uses many herbs and has various cooking styles; baked, fried, grilled and so on.
To discover some of the island’s must traditional dishes, follow our suggestions below for a mouth-watering experience that’s certain to please your appetites.
Souvlakia & Sheftalia
Considered the ultimate Cypriot meal, this is a highly popular dish in Cyprus. Served in warm pitta bread with salad, souvlakia are pieces of pork, grilled on skewers. For a more complete plate, order a ‘mix’ which also includes sheftalia, sausage-like minced meat with herbs.
No meal is complete without being accompanied with a village salad. Sibling to the Greek salad, the village salad includes the same ingredients of tomato, feta, cucumber, olives and onion, with the addition of fresh lettuce. Have it with any main dish to add a lighter taste.
Cyprus’s most known product is definitely halloumi cheese, originating from the island and locally produced. Made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk, it has a chewy texture and its high melting point means it can be consumed in many different ways, be it grilled or fried. It has a salty taste which can easily be combined in pitta bread, with fruit or pastries.
Mousakas is a rich oven dish with layers of minced meat, potato and aubergine, coated with a rich béchamel sauce. Prepared in many households around the island, most Cypriot grandmothers have their own special way of making mousakas. Today, restaurants and taverns attempt to stay close to the traditional recipe and it’s best to have this dish warm.
Makaronia tou Fournou
Similar to mousakas, makaronia tou fournou is an oven-baked pasta dish with layers of long macaroni, minced meat, topped with béchamel sauce. Its Greek name pasticchio, follows the same main ingredients, though the Cypriot recipe uses dry mint, a tomato meat sauce and sprinkled halloumi cheese in the béchamel. The translation of its name means ‘oven macaroni’ since it’s cooked in the oven for about an hour.
Tavas, meaning clay pot, gets its name from the cooking vessel it’s prepared in. A dish originally made in Lefkara village, it combines lamb, rice and vegetables, enriched with cumin which gives it a tangy flavour. Traditional eateries serve it in a clay pot.
A rich pork belly dish, marinated in red wine and dried coriander, slow-cooked in a casserole, it is served either with oven-baked potatoes or bulgur pilaf. Accompany it with yogurt to balance the juicy flavours.
This popular Cypriot meal holds an interesting story. Its name means ‘stolen’ and derives from ancient days when people would steal meat and slow-cook them for several hours in sealed holes in the ground so that the smoke wouldn’t expose the thieves. Today, it is prepared with oregano and bay leaves which give it its unique aroma. Cooked in clay ovens for roughly 4-6 hours, the young goat meat is drenched in wine transforming this usually firm meat into a juicy, mouth-watering plate.
This is a thick soup relating to the island’s rural life as it’s made from dried cracked wheat and soured goat’s milk. It’s a hearty meal for chillier days and can be stored dry for later consummation.
Spoon sweets (Glyka tou koutaliou)
Typically served after a meal with a glass of water and a Cypriot coffee, spoon sweets were given their name due to their small spoon-like size. Usually made from a variety of fruit and vegetables, they are first boiled then sugared to create the syrup. Common in other cultures, Cypriot spoon sweets differ in their use of unripe walnuts, watermelons and cherries.