Food & Drink

Cypriot cuisine shares many features with the Greek and Turkish cuisine, albeit with a distinct character of its own. Having unique position at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East has added exotic dimensions that make it particularly varied and delicious. Emphasising fresh local ingredients, regional herbs and spices, and the light use of natural olive oil, the Cypriot palate is quintessentially Mediterranean in character.

Charcoal grilled meat and kebabs are popular in Cyprus. Other typical dishes include:

  • Afelia (pork marinated in wine and coriander).
  • Dolmas (vine leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice).
  • Loukanika (coriander-seasoned sausages, soaked in red wine and smoked).
  • Lountza (smoked pork, often served in sandwiches with halloumi, a delicious soft Cypriot cheese, (usually grilled) made from thyme-fed sheep and sometimes spiced with peppermint).
  • Ofto kleftiko (chunks of lamb cooked in a sealed clay oven and seasoned with bay leaves).
  • Sheftalia (grilled pork sausage).
  • Stiphado (beef or rabbit stew casseroled with wine vinegar, onions and spices).
  • Tava (a stew of meat, herbs and onions).

Rice is prepared as the chard pilaf (known locally as seskoulorizo), which contains chard leaves, chopped onions, long grain rice, peeled and chopped tomatoes, freshly ground pepper, olive oil and parsley.

Mezze

Meals are often preceded by a selection of snacks (mezze). This may consist of as many as 30 small plates of food, from savoury dips and vegetables to a wide range of fish and meat dishes. Mezze can often comprise the heart of a meal itself; in some restaurants and tavernas you can choose to order seafood mezze or meat mezze.

Desserts

Cypriot desserts often consist of fresh fruit, served alone or with a selection of sweet pastries or fruit preserved in syrup. These include:

  • Daktyla (ladyfingers with almonds, walnuts and cinnamon).
  • Galatopoureko (a cream-stuffed phyllo pastry).
  • Kolokoti (a pastry triangle stuffed with red pumpkin, cracked wheat and raisins).
  • Lokma or loukoumades (doughnuts with honey syrup).
  • Lokum (gelatin flavoured with rose water and dusted with powdered sugar).
  • Pastellaki (a sesame, peanut and honey syrup bar).
  • Shammali (orange semolina cakes cut into squares).

Drinks

There are some excellent wines, spirits, and beers locally produced. Greek coffee is also popular.