Cyprus has always been known for its rich cultural heritage and diverse culinary traditions. The intriguing blend of Turkish, Greek, and Middle Eastern influences have made Cypriot cuisine a unique and distinct culinary experience.
From fresh seafood to traditional souvlaki, dishes on this sunny island offer an exciting array of flavours that are sure to entice your taste buds.
In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the staples of Cypriot cuisine and guide you through the must-try dishes that you won’t want to miss out on during your visit.
Meze is a traditional Cypriot way of serving food. It’s an array of small dishes usually served as an appetiser, but it can also be ordered as a full meal and shared between all the diners at the table. Eating in this way is incredibly social and is a great way to just try a few mouthfuls of a variety of dishes rather than having to stick to one.
Meze is a good choice if you’re travelling with kids, as the smaller plates are perfect for little appetites and more apprehensive diners. Some of the most popular dishes that are served during meze include hummus, tahini, tzatziki, souvlaki, keftedes (meatballs), and halloumi cheese.
Halloumi cheese is a semi-hard cheese made from sheep’s and goat’s milk, and is a favourite among Cypriots Most often grilled or fried, it has a salty taste and a chewy texture. Halloumi can be served on its own, or as part of a meze platter.
Kleftiko is a traditional Greek and Cypriot dish made of lamb that’s slowly cooked with garlic, lemon juice, and herbs. Typically served with fresh vegetables, Kleftiko owes much of its flavour to the traditional method in which it’s cooked – in a sealed clay pot, giving the lamb an extraordinary tenderness and flavour.
Souvlaki is a popular fast food dish consisting of small pieces of grilled meat, usually pork, chicken, or lamb, served in a pita bread wrap, with salad, and fried potatoes. It’s usually cooked on a skewer, giving the meat a distinctive flavour. You can find souvlaki almost anywhere in Cyprus, but a trip to Paphos in particular would allow you to try it from the best places.
Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, the Cypriots enjoy seafood in abundance. Calamari, sea bream, and prawns are some of the most popular and freshest seafood options. Fresh seafood is usually served in a simple yet mouth-watering fashion, laden with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
Ultimately, dining in Cyprus is a flavoursome experience that is second to none. From the traditional meze and grilled halloumi cheese to slow-cooked kleftiko and succulent souvlaki, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
So, when you visit this idyllic island, make sure to indulge in the culinary delights the country has to offer, and savour every bite of the unique flavours that make Cypriot cuisine so special.