Cypriots live for the table, so you’re in for a very pleasant culinary surprise. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s on the menu in the local cafes, restaurants and tavernas …
The traditional Cypriot kebab … Not to be compared with any other kebab in the world. Succulent cubes of chicken, pork or occasionally lamb, on a skewer, char-grilled over real charcoal and served in Pitta bread with fine cut salad …
Larger and often slightly fatty chunks of chicken, pork, lamb or goat on on the bone, on large skewers, slowly spit roasted for about 90 minutes over real charcoal, served with salad and potatoes …
Yerou aka Donner
Layers upon layers of chicken or pork fillets, or beef mince, marinated over night in herbs and spices, then compressed onto a big skewer and grilled vertically, next to an electric grill … The beef version is like an overgrown burger, but loads tastier. Served in pitta bread with fine cut salad and a selection of sauces …
Lamb or goat cooked for at least 5 hours on a bed of cinders, in a sealed clay oven … This cooking process allows the food to steam in its own juices making the meat just fall off the bone and the Cyprus potatoes are absolutely delicious!
A sort of casserole, made with beef and onions cooked in Red Wine . our tip; its nicer if it’s yesterdays . honest !
Cubes of pork, casseroled in course ground coriander seeds and white wine. Served with potatoes and seasoned vegetables …
Aubergines and minced lamb or pork, casseroled with a cottage pie style potato mixed with a cheese sauce, normally prepared and served in a clay pot with side salad …
Pork cubes with Cyprus potatoes, seasoned with cinamon, cumin, bay leaf, and vegetables often cooked in a ceramic casserole in the oven and served with a salad.
Vines leaves stuffed with either minced pork, onion, dill, mint, and rice, tightly layered and cooked slowly with more than a hint of lemon juice, in a large casserole over the hob … aka Koupepia … you can also use lamb or beef or a mixture of both.
These are the world famous Cypriot meatballs … A blend of minced pork, finally grated potato, onion, bread, parsley, egg and herbs and spices. The preparation takes ages, then the mixture is squeezed into balls or spheres and deep fried in pure oil. Awesome meal and definitely one of my faves …
Most restaurants use pork mince, with a more dry tomato based sauce and grated Halloumi cheese, a great low cost meal …
Make sure you try this awesome goats milk cheese grilled on charcoal, there’s really nothing like it, squeeze a little lemon on to enhance the explosion on your taste buds … quite unique !
A Greek white cheese, made from a brine curd of sheep milk or from a mixture of sheep and goat milk. It is a quite crumbly, aged cheese, produced in blocks, and has a slightly grainy texture in comparison to other Cypriot cheeses.
Don’t even think about eating during the day if you’re planning on having a Meze … This is a great way to try loads of Cypriot dishes, but it’s a big meal so make sure your hungry . You can get anything from about 15 up to 25 dishes … Starting with salads, dips and breads, and finishing with all the char grilled meats and chips . Most restaurants do Meze, some very well, but if you get a chance to try one out of town then you’ll find a more traditional style which could include, beans, fish, seafood, liver snails in rice and sweetbread .
The Cypriots love their sea food so if you’re a fish lover, why not try a ‘Fish Meze’, they’re absolutely wonderful. Check out our beach side and Harbour taverns for those real fresh fish aromas …
The locals tend to like their meat quite fatty . They say it helps keep the meat moist whilst cooking … Fortunately, most tourist restaurants normally tidy up the cuts . I’m not sure why but the pork in Cyprus is unique and the fillet of beef, normally imported, is excellent in quality and taste …
For the veggies
The agricultural world in Cyprus is the second largest contributor to the country’s economy. In particular the Ammochostos area which is known as ‘Kokkino Horthia’ the ‘Red Soil Villages’, growing some of the finest vegetables in the world. Wild asparagus, deliciously sweet tomatoes, cucumbers, wild mushrooms, spinach and stacks of unusual vegetable dishes to choose from, including my fav dish, Gollo’gassy (Jerusalem potato), careful, as sometimes cooked with chicken or pork and of course Bamyia or ladies fingers …
The most famous produce is of course, Cyprus potatoes, which must be the finest in the world . and as they’re as fresh as picked today you really can’t beat our spuds … You must try the explosive vegetable known as ‘Rocca’, it’s similar in taste to a leaf of a radish, great in salads . I love it !
Most Cypriot kitchens hold plenty of surprises, getting more traditional the further you move out of the touristy areas. So, if you’re a ‘try anything once’ kind of person, you’ll definitely try things you’ve never had before . There’s hearts, brains, eyes, tongue, tiny, and by that i mean iccle birds, served pickled, boiled and of course on the BBQ, snails of all sizes, rabbit or hare, wild boar, and various choices of ‘Game’. Smoked and cured meats that are mind boggling. So, if you’re brave and you fancy something a little different, all you have to do is ask 😉
Gali orexi, as we say in Cyprus.
By Tony Dynamou and Mell Trykush
Check out Visit Cyprus’ Street Food Vid …