Cyprus Food

Cyprus produces some very interesting and tasty food, below you will find a quick guide to some of the more well known items. Give them try whilst you're on holiday. You will find most of these in the restaurants and supermarkets, and if you are lucky enough to be invited to someone's home for a meal then you may taste some real Cypriot dishes.

Below you will find a table of some local delicacies.

Name Type Description
Koulouri Bread Delicious small white loaf, smothered with sesame seeds, and sometimes some caraway or anise. Comes in ring shapes (with a hole in the middle) and easily dividable oblongs.
Pitta Bread Unleavened bread, Oval shaped and flat, Warm it on a grill and it puffs up ready for a kebab to be inserted. Also available in small sizes.
Psoumi Bread Round flattened loaf, large and small of heavier bread, delicious when fresh, ok when 1 day old, best toasted at 2 days.
Lountza Meat Loin of pork, smoked and marinated. Yummy with koulouri. For the best ones, avoid the pre-sliced pre-packaged ones, (They are too moist, I think they add water to 'up' the weight) and choose the delicatessen one cut very thinly.
Chiromeri Meat Again Pork, Smoked, marinated and pressed. Leg this time, You used to see whole ones hanging by a string. Very aromatic and strong. Sliced wafer thin it can be superb.
Loukanika Meat Smoked and spicy sausage, These are normally served in the meze during the first course with the grilled halloumi, if its a good one it can be brilliant, full of garlic, make sure your partner tries it too, if not its just a  smoked, spicy, lumpy sausage.
Pastourma Meat Made with beef or once upon a time, camel. Now just made with beef. A very spicy meat, Full of garlic and coriander.
Hiromeri Meat Similar to Parma ham, delicious thinly sliced. Cured with wine and spices. mmm. Strong, eat sparingly.
Tzadziki

Dip

A yoghurt, cucumber and mint dip that you will find in most restaurants, served along with tahini, olives and salad.
Tahini Dip A blend of crushed sesame seed paste, lemon juice, water, garlic and olive oil, sprinkled with parsley.
Very difficult to find a good one since the supermarkets started doing a pre-packaged version. Try a granny, who might remember how to make it. Ask for ' tashi '.
Improves when a day or 2 old, as the garlic seeps into it
Anari Cheese Cypriot white cheese, similar to cottage cheese, but not scrambled, you buy it in blocks. Very bland.
Fetta Cheese Salty and white, used in village salads.
Kefalotiri Cheese Hard rinded cheese, comes in large rounds, you buy a wedge of it. Nice texture and quite strong.
Halloumi Cheese This cheese is great either cooked or raw, when grated it is used extensively in au gratin dished, grilled or fried. (I always prefer it lightly fried - keep your eye on it, it burns quickly.) Wash it before cooking it at home, as it is kept in brine and can be very salty.
You can also use it very successfully as a cheese to curry with spinach or peas as it keeps its shape and texture when cubed, fried and then simmered for long periods of time.
kappari Vegetable If you find thorns in your salad, no they did not make a mistake in the kitchen, this is the thorn of the caper, usually pickled. Be careful!
Kolokassi Vegetable This is a strange but delicious vegetable. It looks like a dirty elongated swede/turnip/parsnip/sweet potato type root vegetable. It has a magnificent texture and the good ones have a fascinating taste. You cannot cut it with a knife, as it becomes slimy,  you have to break it into pieces before cooking. It is often served in a tomatoey sauce and is well worth trying to find.
Lachana Vegetable A spinach type leaf, but with a thicker white stalk. Often cooked with black eyed beans in a kind of stew/soup.
Fasolia Pulse Beans. Sometimes cooked with potatoes, carrots, celery and tomatoes, and sometimes with Lachana.  Both varieties are interesting, my favourite is with tomatoes, a sort of fresh and light baked bean. Always soak overnight before cooking.
Koupepkia Cooked dish Stuffed vine leaves. (called Dolmades in Greece)  If they are well made these little rolls of meat and rice cooked in a rich oily sauce can be delightful. The supermarket ready made versions are generally vile. They are prepared with either fresh or pickled vine leaves, both have their own charm, popular at the take away shops, during Lent, the vegetarian version is served instead.
Afelia Cooked Dish This is pork cubes, marinated and cooked in red wine with coriander seeds (sometimes vinegar, or maybe just old or cheap wine). Cooked slowly, gently and long, this dish can be outstanding and very sustaining.
Stifado Cooked Dish Based on Beef and onions, but with a flavour all of its own.
Tavas Cooked Dish Lamb (or sometimes pork) cooked with potatoes, tomatoes and sometimes carrots and other in season bits. Presumably in the oven, slowly. Can be delicious but is usually at least edible.
Flaounes Pastry Easter cakes, well buns, no, pies. O.K. eggs, cheese, sultanas, sugar and stuff on the inside wrapped in a kind of pastry and oven baked. Try them at Easter, where you will find them in all the bakers shops.
Glykos Sweets Fruits in heavy syrup. Not only fruits, but also such delicacies as whole walnuts, watermelon and melon rind, aubergines, cherries, figs and whole bitter oranges. Sometimes with an almond in wrapped fruit.
Halva Sweet Sesame seeds pulp and sugar melded into a square, sometimes with nuts, or vanilla flavouring. A little goes a long way.
Koupes Cooked Dish Cigar shaped savouries, containing meat , onions and parsley surrounded with a thin, crispy( when fresh & well made) layer of crushed bulgur wheat. Buy them in the bakers or periptero's (newsagent / corner shops) and eat them with a wedge of lemon, which you squeeze into the top. There are big ones, small ones and in the fasting periods, ones with a mushroom filling instead of meat.
Moussaka Cooked Dish Classic and famous. Oven cooked dish with layered potato, aubergine, meat and white sauce. Lovely or foul, depending on who cooks it and how.
Avgolemono Soup Chicken, Lemon, egg and rice soup. A classic local delicacy.
Trachannas Soup Made of wheat and milk and halloumi. Acquired taste.
Pacha Soup Sheep's brain soup. Sometimes including the bonus of the skull. Prized locally especially in the villages.
Pourgouri Cooked Dish Bulgur wheat, pasta and onions. A treat when nice, stodgy when not.
Mouchendra Cooked Dish Lentils, rice and fried onions, yum yum.
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A note on the curing of meat.

Local recipes for the curing of meats, sausages and so forth are often kept within the family or the village for generations.  Greek Cypriots cure the Cypriot pork Sausage such as loukanika and pastourma as well as cuts of meat such as a cured pork loin called 'Lountza'. All are marinated in wine, sometimes left in wine for a couple of days other for over a week, some pre-cure and then add to the wine, others add to the wine or brine-wine mix from day one. Spices used are salt, pepper, coriander, red pepper and local herbs such as thyme and a type of Bay leaf. Traditional recipes never use nitrates as preservatives . Most cured meats were traditionally prepared in the winter months (November to March) when it is not too hot. They are normally smoked using the branches and leaves from the local Mediterranean herbal shrubs. If you are lucky, you will still find some in the villages. There are enthusiasts who keep the art alive, but not very many who produce on a commercial basis.
 

Vegetable shopping in Cyprus


The vegetables here are (up to now) reasonably priced and of a high quality. We have not yet been forced to 'standardise' either shape, variety or colour.

There are many large vegetable supermarkets such as the one pictured below.

The vegetables shown on the checkout came to C8.40 in November 2006 - the equivalent to just under 10 sterling or $20 U.S.

An update in August 2007 sees our vegetable bills rising almost weekly, My once C5.00 - C9.00 bill is now C25.00 to C30.00. So much for the EU!

2010 and now in Euros and the bill is 45 to 55 euros. This appears differently to a Cypriot than to a Frenchman as when we bought into the euro in 2008 we got a pretty good deal as the Cyprus pound was more powerful than the pound sterling, so where the pound sterling is now on a par with the euro, the Cyprus pound came in at about 1.6.

More exotic fruit and vegetables are now on offer, having been flown in from all over the world. Star fruit, Granadilla, pineapples (which we are beginning to grow.) The banana, which 10 years ago were all imported, are doing very nicely, along with parsnips, papaya, sweet potatoes and mangoes. Cyprus potatoes still at about 25 cents a kilo, whilst tomatoes and cucumbers reach a premium in the summer months.

 

  

Click to enlarge these pictures.
 They show the variety you may expect in a Cyprus fruit and vegetable shop.

Happy eating !

 

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health food shop in cyprus.jpg (17460 bytes)  
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