This Mediterranean island nation is home to a rich & diverse culinary tradition, with influences from Greek, Turkish & Middle Eastern cuisines. With its fresh, locally-sourced ingredients & innovative chefs, Cyprus is a food lover's paradise. In this guide we'll take you on a gastronomic journey through some of the best local delicacies that Cyprus has to offer.
Halloumi is Cyprus' most famous food export. This squeaky salty cheese is made from a mixture of goat's & sheep's milk, & it's perfect for grilling or frying. Cypriots love to eat halloumi with watermelon in the summertime or in a pitta bread with tomato & cucumber. You can find halloumi on the menu at most Cypriot restaurants or pick up a packet to take home from a local market.
Souvlakia are small pieces of marinated meat, usually pork or chicken, that are skewered & grilled over charcoal. They're served with a salad, pitta bread & a variety of dips, including tzatziki, hummus & taramasalata. The best souvlakia are made with meat that has been marinated for at least 24 hours, to give it a rich smoky flavour.
Meze is a selection of small dishes that are served together as a complete meal. It's similar to the Spanish tapas or the Italian antipasti. A typical Cypriot meze might include dishes such as dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), moussaka (a baked eggplant and meat dish), spanakopita (spinach and feta pie) & keftedes (meatballs). Meze is usually served with bread and a variety of dips & it's a great way to sample a range of Cypriot dishes in one sitting.
Kleftiko is a traditional Cypriot dish that's made with slow-cooked lamb. The meat is marinated in garlic & lemon then wrapped in parchment paper and cooked in a clay oven. The result is a tender juicy lamb that falls off the bone. Kleftiko is usually served with roast potatoes & a Greek salad, and it's a must-try for meat lovers.
Loukoumades are small, deep-fried doughnuts that are drizzled with honey syrup & sprinkled with cinnamon. They're a popular dessert in Cyprus & they're perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth. You can find loukoumades at most Cypriot bakeries or try making them yourself at home.
Commandaria is a sweet dessert wine that's been made in Cyprus for over 4,000 years. It's made from two grape varieties, xynisteri & mavro that are left to dry in the sun before being pressed. The resulting wine is rich & complex, with notes of caramel, raisins & figs. Commandaria is perfect for sipping after dinner or as a gift to take home.
Zivania is a strong, clear spirit that's made from the pomace of grapes. It's similar to Italian grappa or French marc. Zivania is usually served as an aperitif & it's a great way to start off a meal. It's also used in cooking to add flavour to dishes such as souvlakia or kleftiko.
Cyprus is a food lover's paradise & we hope this guide has given you a taste of some of the amazing dishes and drinks that the island has to offer. But this is just the beginning! There are so many more traditional Cypriot foods to discover, such as afelia (pork cooked in red wine), sheftalia (grilled pork and onion sausages) & koupes (bulgur wheat stuffed with meat and spices).
When visiting Cyprus, be sure to explore local markets, tavernas & street food stalls to get a true taste of the island's culinary culture. Don't be afraid to try new things! Cypriot cuisine is all about bold flavors, fresh ingredients & simple cooking techniques that let the natural flavours of the food shine.
So whether you're a foodie looking to expand your palate or just someone who loves good food, Cyprus is a must-visit destination. Come and experience the tastes, smells & hospitality of this beautiful island nation & discover a new world of culinary delights.