If there is one main element that characterizes Cyprus cuisine, it is its freshness. The other is the variety of dishes that you will find in Cyprus. The Cypriot cuisine due to its Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern influences offers some unique dishes and culinary experiences.
If you are familiar with Greek cooking, then that is a good introduction to Cyprus cuisine, but prepare yourself for some deliciously exotic twists. The best way to get to try Cypriot food for the first time is to order either the fish or meat based Cypriot meze, in one of the many Cypriot tavernas and restaurants. A lot of restaurants in Cyprus are open air, so most meals are taken al fresco. In Cyprus a meal is an event, so like the Cypriots remember to enjoy your meal slowly.
Accompany your meal with one of the many excellent Cypriot wines, or the Cypriot beer, KEO.
For an even better experience choose one of the many Cyprus restaurants that also offer live music and Greek dancing.
Cyprus cuisine: The food you should definitely try:
- Souvla – Large pieces of meat (typically lamb or pork) cooked on a long skewer over a charcoal barbecue.
- Afelia – Pork marinated in wine and coriander.
- Sheftalia – Grilled spiced mince balls.
- Koupepia – grape leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice.
- Stifado – Beef stew casseroled with wine, spices and lots of onions.
- Loukanika – Sausages soaked in red wine and smoked.
- Kleftiko – Lamb slowly cooked in a sealed clay oven and seasoned with bay leaves and other spices.
- Lountza – Smoked pork done in a very Cypriot way
- Halloumi – White cheese made from sheep’s milk, spiced with peppermint and normally served grilled.
- Talatouri – A much tastier version of the Greek Tzatziki, a yogurt dip with fresh mint and garlic.
And for desert:
- Loukoumades -Deep fried doughnuts with honey syrup.
- Shiamali – Semolina cake sometimes done with orange or almonds .
- Daktyla – Pastry done in the shape of fingers with walnut or almond, cinnamon and syrup.
- Loukoumia – Cubes of gelatin flavoured with rose water and covered with powdered sugar.
- Shoushouko – Grape juice solidified filled with almonds or walnuts, formed in a shape of long rods.
- Kolokotes – A pastry filled with red pumpkin, raisins and cracked wheat.
- Koupes – Fried cracked wheat filled with mince mint and spices.
- Zivania – is produced by distilling pressed grape residues in special stills or cauldrons. Truly a drink for the brave, the alcohol content of this white spirit can range from 40% to 99%. It usually accompanies a good meal such as mezedes or is served with dried fruit and nuts, and is best enjoyed in good company.
- Cypriot coffee – is made by mixing freshly roasted and ground beans with cold water and sugar in a briki, or coffee pot. The mixture is then brought to the boil, which produces a creamy foam on top and is served short and black usually with a glass of cold water.There are three main ways to drink coffee in Cyprus:
Sketo – plain with no sugar, strong and bitter
Metrio – usually with one sugar added, medium strong
Glyko – usually with two sugars added, sweet
- Commandaria- The most famous wine produced is the sweet dessert wine Commandaria. The native grape varieties are Mavro and Xynisteri but others are used too.
- KEO – is the local Cyprus beer.