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Traditional Mouth Watering Cypriot Foods You Should Try PRT.1

11/11/2018

Eating in Cyprus is serious business you’ll rarely spot Cypriots gathered around a table without a couple of plates to snack on. With a rich history and a location that crosses three continents, the island has seen a variety of influences, all of which add to the local gastronomy.

Being so close to the Middle East has definitely had an impact on the island’s cuisine, as many dishes are similar to those in the region. Flavours are also shared between Cyprus and Turkey, but the island’s cuisine is closest to the refreshing Greek gastronomy. Here are some unique foods that you have to try.

Halloumi

Halloumi is probably Cyprus’ most famous product, with its popularity extending to many countries throughout Europe and the Middle East. Distinguishable by its mild salty flavour and rubbery texture, the delicacy has become a favourite for chefs across the globe, appearing in dishes as diverse as lamb roast and halloumi fries.

The cheese is produced by combining a mixture of goat’s and sheep milk, before being set with rennet. This is an unusual practice due to the absence of acid-producing bacteria in any part of the process, a standard for most dairy products. Halloumi’s high melting point means it can be easily fried or grilled, or served cold alongside freshly sliced watermelon; the perfect summer dinner.

 

Koupepia (stuffed vine leaves) and gemista

The Cypriot variety of the dolma uses minced meat, rice, onions, tomatoes and a mixture of herbs. This filling is then carefully wrapped in fresh vine leaves. A village favorite, this dish can be found commonly throughout Greece, Turkey and the Middle East. Koupepia are usually made in large batches and can be frozen to be enjoyed at a later time the dish is in every Cypriot grandmother’s menu. The stuffing of vegetables, called gemista, is a Cypriot tradition which extends beyond vine leaves, with peppers, tomatoes, onions, courgettes and even courgette flowers often being cooked in this manner.

Souvlakia and sheftalia

A spin-off from the famous Greek dish, the Cypriot-style souvlaki consists of small chunks of charcoal-grilled meat on a skewer, and a large amount of fresh salad filling. It’s a very popular meal, as many locals catch up over a pitta of souvlakia. The pitta bread used is thinner and larger than the Greek version, and usually contains a pocket to hold the ingredients, rather than wrapping the filling in the Greek way.

The meat is commonly pork or chicken and can be accompanied by sheftalia. These are spiced sausage parcels with herbs, minced pork or lamb that are grilled. Alternatively, there are vegetarian options too, with mushroom and halloumi.

 

Glyko tou koutaliou

Most lunch meals end with a glyko tou koutalou, which literally translates to “spoon sweets” due to the fact that they are the size of a teaspoon. These sweets are made from all kinds of fruit, vegetables and even nuts, that are boiled and then sugared to create the distinctive syrup they are stored in. Local favourites are the walnut, the watermelon and the cherry varieties, which are usually enjoyed with a Cypriot coffee and a glass of water.

 

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