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Famous Food in Cyprus

Updated: Jun 7

Cypriot cuisine has similar ingredients and flavors as Greek and Turkish food.
A typical Cypriot dinner begins with appetizers, dips, and salads, followed by meat-heavy mains, and concluding with a light dessert and traditional strong coffee that’s brewed with local beans. Eating together is cultural in this Eastern Mediterranean country and meals are often shared to build relationships and community.

Here are some of the most delicious Cypriot food you should try if you visit Cyprus.


Enjoy Reading!




Appetizer (Mezze) & Main Courses

Hellimli

Halloumoti / Hellimli is a Cypriot savory pastry/ bread made with halloumi cheese, it is consisting of flour, water, salt, butter, halloumi cheese, and olive oil.

The flavor can be enhanced with chopped onions and mint.

The dough is traditionally baked in clay ovens until the exterior of the bread became golden color.



Village salad

Village salad is a rustic and simple salad, it is similar to Greek salad.

Village salad made of tomato, cucumber, whole kalamata olives, and thinly sliced red onion, with the addition of fresh lettuce, then topped with chunks of feta cheese, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with dried oregano.



Meze

Literally means “small dishes" from 5-20 dishes. It contains dishes of Pita bread, and a variety of dips* such as tzatziki, taramosalata, and hummus. Ouzo and Arak go best with a meze.

Meze acts as a tasting platter of appetizers, either as an accompaniment with drinks or as the first course. It may also contain salads and desserts.

It can be served hot or cold.

*- Tzatziki – a healthy yogurt dip made with garlic, cucumber, and olive oil;

- Tahini is a paste of crushed sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon, and garlic;

- Taramosalata, a type of fish roe mixed with pureed potatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, and onions;

- Hummus, a traditional pureed chickpea and tahini dip;

- Halloumi, which is grilled and spiced soft goat or sheep’s cheese.




Koupepia

Koupepia is one of the most famous traditional Cyprus dishes.

It is made of grape leaves, stuffed with rice, minced pork, or beef with fresh herbs & other seasonings, then cooked in tomato sauce.

It can be made with meat and served warm or as a vegetarian dish that may be served cold. They can be part of a meze platter or even a main dish.

Stuffed vine leaves, popularly called Dolmades (plural of Dolma) in Greece are the inspiration for Koupepia although its origins are from the Middle East.



Gemista

Gemista is also a popular dish in Cyprus.

Gemista recipe is the same recipe as Koupepia; Gemista is vegetables usually tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, and eggplant filled with rice (sometimes with ground meat) and baked in the oven, and served in traditional taverns.

Gemista translates as “ones that are filled”.

This dish can be found commonly throughout Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East.




Halloumi

Halloumi is famous Cypriot cheese that is made from sheep or goat milk.

It has a high melting point which makes it possible to fry and grill.

Halloumi is almost always served in traditional taverns as an appetizer, either raw or grilled.

It can also be served in sandwiches, salads, or with fruit particularly watermelon and wine, it is also served with vegetables, mussels, and other seafood, or small sausages.


Tiropittes / Tiropitas

An appetizer made from phyllo pastry, cheese, and egg mixture, then wrapped in a triangle shape.

Sometimes bechamel sauce is added to the cheese mixture to make it even creamier.

They can be made as individual triangles or even a whole batch in a casserole dish and cut up in squares when needed.



Koubes

Koubes originate from the Levant region and are basically a torpedo-shaped croquette.

The outer shell is made of bulgur and filled with minced meat, parsley, onion, and spices then coated with Bulgur, flour & egg then fried. These tasty bites are served with lemon wedges, with the zingy zest of the fruit really bringing out the filling flavor.


Stifado

Stifado is beef stewed in tomato sauce (sometimes with a little bit of red wine) onion, garlic, red wine, and the main spices are cinnamon, bay leaves and, peppercorns.

Meat cut into large pieces and roasted with vegetable oil, is stewed along with vegetables in the pot or deep frying pan for 2-2,5 hours.

The dish is served with potatoes, rice, and vegetables.



Kleftiko*

Kleftiko is another dish that is slow-cooked, the "lamb's leg" is cooked for several hours- about 4 to 5 hours.

It is marinade with a mix of olive oil, bay leaves, garlic, herbs, lemon, salt, and pepper which is then poured over the lamb and the lamb is then left inside the fridge to marinate overnight or at least for four hours. A different method also uses wine in the marinade which makes it different from Greek cuisine.

It’s cooked in baking paper to save the rich aromas and liquids of the juicy meat. It’s commonly served with potatoes, though they are traditionally cooked separately.


*The name means “stolen lamb” as historically people would steal meat and bury it to be slow-cooked in covered holes in the ground so that no smoke would give away the location of the thieves. Today, it’s cooked in a traditional round, white oven for many hours.



Afelia / Afella

Afelia is a dish made from pork marinated in red wine and cooked with mushrooms, potatoes, and coriander seeds.

The pork is boiled with the spices till the water dries out and then lightly fried in a tava, similar to a saucepan, in olive oil, before the wine is added to it. The spices used most often are coriander seeds, a must, pepper, bay leaves, garlic, and cumin.

The dish is ready when the wine that is added to it gets evaporated too.

Usually served with rice. & yogurt.

Another dish with Greek origins, Afelia was the equivalent of Ovelia in Greece which meant cooked meat.



Souvlakia and sheftalia

Souvlaki or “Souvla” as the Cypriots call it, is thinly sliced meat pieces traditionally lamb, pork, chicken, or sometimes beef – served on top of pita bread with a pickled salad, hummus, and tzatziki, or tahini dip.

It is can be served either as a sandwich in pita bread or on skewers.

The meat can be accompanied by sheftalia.


Sheftalies are small patties of minced pork, or lamb wrapped in caul fat & spiced with herbs, cinnamon, parsley, and onion it can be baked in the oven, fried in the pan, or grilled.

The dish is served with potatoes, fresh vegetable salad, and lemon. which are spiced sausage parcels with herbs, minced pork, or lamb that are grilled, there are vegetarian options too, with mushroom and halloumi.

It is served with yogurt spread (‘tzatziki’), and fried potatoes.






Souvla

Souvla is another popular meat dish that looks like Russian shashlik. The difference is simple: before cooking souvla you do not have to do anything with lamb or pork (just cut meat into big portions, salt and roast on the open fire for an hour and a half), while the meat for shashlik needs to be marinated first.

Souvla is usually served with raw vegetable salad, fried pita bread, and Halloumi cheese.




Kolokouthkia me ta afka (courgettes with eggs)

This dish is part of mezze dishes, it consists of fried courgettes with scrambled eggs in olive oil sprinkled with salt.

Served with a side of salad and is mostly an accompaniment to the main meal.

Moussaka

Moussaka is an eggplant-based dish with lamb, mushrooms, potatoes under the bechamel sauce (a lot of variations are possible).

Moussaka is baked in layers of eggplant and lamb (though sometimes beef is used instead), covered in béchamel sauce, which is a white sauce made with butter and flour cooked in milk, and then baked until golden.

Moussaka is popular not only in Cyprus but you can also try it in Turkey, Macedonia, and Bulgaria.

Another variation of the dish is vegetarian moussaka.



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.



Pilafi Pourgouri

pilafi pourgouri is really popular in Cyprus and is commonly served as a side dish to any meat.

Pilafi pourgouri is usually made from bulgar wheat and it’s cooked with tomato juice and onion. It’s best served with a Greek yogurt




Loukaniko

Traditional Cypriot sausages.

A thin long sausage made of minced meat that is marinated in red wine with some salt. Pepper, cumin, and coriander are added to it and then made into sausages, smoked, and left to dry.

The sausages can be grilled, fried, or barbecued and served as part of a Meze.



Kefalaki

Kefalaki is a lamb head-cooked whole either boiled with salt and lemon or cooked in the oven.




Spanakopita

A delicious layered savory pastry made of phyllo (filo) or puff pastry and stuffed with spinach, feta cheese, spring onions, and egg, it tastes best when hot.

Spanakopita is a dish with Greek origins.





Dessert


Loukoumades

Loukoumades - often referred to as honey doughnuts-, are dough balls that are deep-fried until they become golden brown and then soaked in sugar syrup or honey.

Cinnamon, crushed or flaked nuts, sesame, and powdered sugar are used to coat them.

They are light, spongy and the size of the dough balls can vary.

Loukoumades are always served fresh and hot

It can be found in Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Egypt & Middle East





Baklava

Baklava is a traditional pastry made with phyllo (filo) or layers of unleavened dough with chopped nuts - mostly pistachios- and honey or syrup in between.

It is popular in Turkey Bulgaria, Greece, Lebanon, Egypt, and parts of Cyprus.

It is served with Tea or Coffee.



Koulourakia

Kolourakia is hand-shaped pastries usually in the form of twisted wreaths, figure eights, horseshoes, or circles, and can only be found during Easter time.

They are butter-based and may sometimes have sesame seeds sprinkled over them.

It is good to be served with a cup of tea.



Daktyla

A traditional Cypriot Dessert of crispy phyllo pastry, that is scented with orange blossom water, then filled with almonds, cinnamon and sugar before being drenched in syrup.



Halvas

A delicious dessert suitable for the fasting periods of the year, halva’s main ingredient is almonds alongside honey, blossom water, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, and mastic ground, and often, raisins.

It is better to serve cold.




Pourekia

Pourekia are little pastries made also of phyllo dough that filled with a sweet filling of Anari Cheese (a soft cheese) and cinnamon. After being stuffed they get fried, then traditionally dusted with icing sugar.

Other variations include the addition of rosewater to the filling and syrup to replace the icing sugar.



Flaouna

Flaouna is a traditional Cypriot pastry consisting of flour, eggs, sugar, butter, yeast, water, and salt.

It is additionally enriched with cheese, raisins, and fresh herbs such as mint. The dough is sprinkled with sesame seeds on top and baked until it develops a golden-brown color of the exterior.







Drinks

Coconut Water

Coconut water, less commonly known as coconut juice, is the clear liquid inside coconuts.


Cypriot Coffee

The traditional coffee of Cyprus is made from fresh, finely ground Brazilian coffee beans that are boiled to form a frothy cream known as “kaimaki” on the top.

Most Cypriot people drink it in small cups with dissolved sugar (called sweet “glikis”) or take it medium sweet (“metrios”) while a brave few drink it “sketos” (or unsweetened).

The coffee is best sipped slowly but be warned.

Don’t drink the thick layer at the bottom of the cup; it’s commonly left untouched.





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