Traditional Cyprus Food
In Cyprus food is the main reason why many people live to such a ripe old age. Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest ways of eating in the world. The following are some of the dishes used in the Mediterranean way of eating.
Olive oil and olives together with an abundance of fresh fruit, salads and vegetables are why people remain so healthy. A daily diet of fresh bread, potatoes, pulses (legumes) and fresh fish straight from the sea are what most people live on.
A slice of crunchy bread, olives and cheese, are often eaten for breakfast along with tomatoes and cucumber. Snacks include dips such as hummus, taramosalata and aubergine and tzatziki (yoghurt with shredded cucumber, mint and garlic), delicious eaten with meals or just warm pitta bread.
Agriculture is one of the major exports of the island and the red Cyprus potatoes come from the red villages of Famagusta. Roast potatoes, chips and mashed potatoes with garlic and olive oil (Greek – skordalia (σκορδαλιά) pronounced skor-thal-YA) are just some of the ways these lovely potatoes are cooked on the island.
Famous the world over Moussaka is the traditional food of Cyprus and Greece.
Made with mince meat (normally lamb) courgettes, aubergines, potatoes and covered with a thick bechamel sauce.
If you’re vegetarian (as I am) it’s easy to substitute quorn or soya for meat (the moussaka above was made with quorn). Or you can just leave out the meat and add lentils and more cheese ~ Moussaka Recipe >>
Cyprus Food also includes popular dishes of roast lamb, pork, chicken and fish served with potatoes, pasta, rice and pulses (beans, lentils etc) which are often very simple and easy to cook. One such dish is fassoulia yiahni . Famous throughout Cyprus and Greece and other Mediterranean countries it’s affordable and nutritious and great mopped up with the local crunchy bread.
Mezedes often include as many as twenty or more little dishes.
These bite size dishes are a great introduction to the cuisine of Cyprus and include stuffed vine leaves and local cheeses such as feta, halloumi and kaskavalli.
Spicy loukanika and pastourma sausages and keftedes (meat balls) are just some of the many tasty mezhedes you can try.
The fishing boats bring the freshest of fish and sea food straight to the restaurants of the island.
Amongst the most popular local dishes are calamari (fried squid) and barpooni (red mullet).
Vegetarians can eat well in Cyprus as many of the dishes don’t contain meat. Although most Cypriots love their kebabs and casseroles there are also many dishes made with vegetables, pulses and pasta so great for vegetarians!
For example there are stuffed vegetables Yemista and Lahana (a green vegetable similar to spinach but not so sweet).
- Vegetables eaten with black eyed beans (or any other type of bean) and drizzled with olive oil and lemon are healthy and very tasty.
- There are so many dishes which include pulses, pasta, olives, vegetables and the salads are famous all over the world. Who can resist a Greek Salad with pitta and hummus!
Food of the Gods and utterly delicious washed down with a glass of wine or keo beer.
Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes and for traditional Pastichio the long thick macaroni is used. Made with layers of macaroni and mince meat (or veggie alternative) then covered with bechamel sauce and cheese.
Cypriot ravioli is filled with halloumi cheese and mint.
Spaghetti and Macaroni
- Often eaten with grated halloumi or anari cheese sprinkled with dried mint.
- These dishes are excellent served with a fresh Greek/Cypriot salad.
- Vegetarian feta and halloumi are available in large supermarkets.
Breakfast & Snacks
A traditional breakfast often consists of olives, juicy tomatoes and baby cucumbers, fried/grilled halloumi, eggs and lountza (Cypriot bacon/sausage) and often with fresh crunchy sesame-seed covered bread.
Anari (soft white cheese of Cyprus) or yogurt with fresh fruit drizzled with honey are also very popular.
Tyropita (Cheese Pies)
Tyropita (Cheese Pies) Recipe are very popular in both Greece and Cyprus and very easy to make.
They can be bought in bakeries all over Cyprus and sold in bite size or large pies. They can be made with fillo pastry or puff pastry.
- Another favorite of mine is koulouri – sesame-seed covered hoops of bread available from bakers and street vendors from early morning (koulouri is also a loaf of bread).
- Ideally you will munch on a sesame covered hoop together with a piece of Kefalotiri cheese – very tasty! Koulourakia are made with sugar and spices and delicious with coffee or tea.
- Cypriots enjoy Kleftiko, Afelia and traditional beef dishes such as stifado and tava.
- Casserole dishes are cooked with lots of olive oil (or sunflower oil) and it’s customery to mop up the juices with wedges of fresh crusty bread.
- Souvlaki – barbecued lamb and pork kebabs has always been a popular fast food in Cyprus and Greece and one which many other countries enjoy.
Souvlaki are often made at home or eaten at the local taverna or restaurant. For years it was just as cheap to eat out as it was to eat at home.
In Cyprus pork is often used and also fish such as swordfish which is chunkier and less likely to fall off the skewer.
Vegetarian souvlaki can be made with peppers, red onions, tomatoes, courgettes and aubergines. Delicious served with pougouri or in a warm pitta bread sprinkled with tahini.
Desserts & Cakes
Glyko is Cypriot crystalised fruit, served on a small plate with a glass of ice-cold water. It is often offered to guests or eaten at the end of a meal in Cyprus.
Baklava is popular in Cyprus, Greece, Lebanon and many other parts of the Middle East. This lovely dessert is made with filo pastry, nuts, spices and loads of rose or orange scented syrup.
These honey balls are made for festivals and also enjoyed throughout the year.
Kali Orexi! (καλή όρεξη)
Good Appetite – Enjoy!