Sheftalies, Cyprus - Global Storybook

10 Traditional Dishes You Have to Try in Cyprus

Stefanie Konstanta

Stefanie Konstanta

Stefanie Konstanta is the Local Contributing Writer at Global Storybook (Cyprus).

Geia sas! I am Stefanie and I will be your local guide in Cyprus.
My ultimate goal in life is to travel around the world. When I am not traveling, I am organizing my next trip.
Even though Cyprus is small, I am here to prove that it's actually a rich and diverse country! You can also follow my adventures at Stef's Journey.
Stefanie Konstanta

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The Cypriot is probably one of the most diverse cuisines in the world.  What is great about Cyprus’s gastronomy is that you can trace its rich history through the variety of national dishes.  The island’s particular geographic location has brought in a mix of Greek, Turkish, and Arabic culinary influences.

The first thing that you should know about Cyprus’s cuisine, is that because of its dry climate our ingredients have been quite limited in the past.  Furthermore, it has once been a really poor country, where people depended on their crops for survival.  But even with just a few ingredients, the recipes are simple yet delicious and very healthy.

One of our cuisine’s main ingredients is olive oil.  In fact, olive trees have been part of Cyprus’s history since the Neolithic period.  We also use a lot of fresh seasonal vegetables, like tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, parsley, and coriander.  Poverty had established legumes and vegetables as the main element during the week while the meat was traditionally consumed only on Sundays.

Below, you can find the top 10 traditional dishes which you have to try when visiting Cyprus!

10 Traditional Dishes You Have to Try in Cyprus - Global Storybook1. Halloumi

Halloumi is not only the king of the grilled cheese, it’s also the source of our national pride.  Its popularity is rapidly growing worldwide and it can be found in many countries nowadays.  It’s also patented – only Cyprus has the right to produce halloumi.

Halloumi is a lot more than just a simple cheese.  It’s part of our cultural heritage and it dates back to the 16th century.  It is usually packed in brine and it’s a white, salty, semi-hard cheese with no distinct flavor.  Cypriots have been eating it for centuries and it is an important part of our daily diet.  Halloumi can be consumed fresh, in a salad, sandwich, or even pasta; it’s also commonly used as a stuffing in various dishes and even in soups.

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Halloumi, Cyprus National Dish - Global Storybook2. Sheftalies

At a first glance, sheftalies look similar to kebab, but in their taste – they are far more delicious.  Sheftalies are typically made with minced lamb or pork (sometimes even both) and mixed with lots of cinnamon parsley and onion.  Afterwards, they are wrapped in thin caul fat, usually from a lamb.  They are either cooked in the oven or charcoal-grilled.

Sheftalies, Cyprus - Global Storybook3. Koupepia

Koupepia is one of the most famous traditional Cyprus dishes.  It’s usually made of grape leaves, stuffed with rice, minced pork or beef, fresh herbs and other seasoning and then cooked in a tomato sauce.  Koupepias are usually served warm.  They can be part of a meze platter or even a main dish.

Moreover, we have a very similar meal which is called “paragemista.”  It also includes tomatoes, onions, and other vegetables stuffed inside the grape leaves.

Koupepia, Cyprus - Global Storybook4. Souvla

During the most important celebrations in Cyprus, we usually serve souvla.  Souvla is a Cypriot-style barbeque.  It’s basically big chunks of pork or lamb meat that are slowly cooked on a long skewer over a charcoal.  What is great about souvla is not the complexity or the flavor but the ritual that goes with it.

Souvla is an integral part of the Cypriot culture.  Usually, the men are responsible for making the souvla.  They enjoy the slow cooking process with a glass of beer and a good chat, while women are preparing other dishes in the kitchen.

Souvla, Cyprus national dish - Global Storybook5. Louvi

Louvi, as we call them in Cyprus, are the black-eyed beans.  It is very common for Cypriot families to have a specific day of the week devoted solely to this scrumptious meal.  It is really nutritious; it contains a good amount of protein and is usually served with cooked vegetables, such as chard and courgettes.  Once it’s cooked, it’s important to add olive oil and lemon juice for the best seasoning.

Louvi black-eyed beans, Cyprus national dish - Global Storybook6. Kolokasi

Kolokasi is an indigenous root vegetable which is similar to sweet potato.  It can only be found in Cyprus plus some other Greek islands.  We even have a kolokasi festival where countless people gather to show off their family dishes.  Traditionally, it is stewed with pork in a tomato and celery sauce, and it is really delicious!

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Kolokasi, Cyprus - Global Storybook7. Pilafi Pourgouri

Like most Cypriot recipes, pilafi pourgouri is considered to be a “poor man’s dish.”  As mentioned above, when the locals were poor, they used simple ingredients to make some great recipes.  It’s not only cheap but is also very healthy and quick to make!  It’s really popular in Cyprus and is commonly served as a side dish to any meat.

Pilafi pourgouri is usually made from bulgar wheat and it’s cooked with tomato juice and onion.  It’s best served with a Greek yogurt!

Pilafi Pourgouri, Cyprus - Global Storybook8. Makaronia Tou Fournou

Makaronia tou fournou, or the “oven-baked macaroni” in Greek, is the Cypriot version of the more famous Greek dish known as pastitsio.  It’s basically a layered pasta which contains seasoned ground pork and some cheese sauce.  It’s one of our family’s favorites but it takes some efforts to prepare.

Makaronia Tou Fournou, Cyprus - Global Storybook9. Trachanas Soup

In Cyprus, this is considered the most popular soup, which we normally serve during the few cold months of the year.  Trachanas is typically made with goat milk, some salt, and wheat, which is then turned into dry chunks.  Later, we pour hot water over these dry chunks and let them soak.  And that’s how the traditional trachanas soup is made.  Sometimes stock and halloumi would also be added to the soup to make it even more appetizing!

10. Loukoumades

If you have a sweet tooth, then don’t miss out on this delicacy!  Usually, you can buy loukoumades from street vendors or at some coffee shops.  Loukoumades can be made by deep frying dough balls until they become golden brown and then soaking them in honey.  It’s a very simple dessert with a heavenly taste!

Loukoumades, Cyprus sweets - Global Storybook

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