What to eat in Cyprus?
The beautiful island of Cyprus is located on the Mediterranean Sea close to Greece and Turkey. The influence of these two countries is very visible not only in culture but also in Cypriot cuisine. Full of tasty meat, fresh vegetables, aromatic herbs and amazing wine - surely you will enjoy the food during your stay in Cyprus. Learn more about delicious Cypriot dishes and get inspired to travel to this admirable island!
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Number one Cypriot product if it comes to popularity in other European countries. Valued for its fresh flavor and high point of melting which makes it perfect to grill or fry. Halloumi cheese is made from a mix of goat and sheep milk. A little salty in taste and rubbery in texture Halloumi is perfect as an addition to other dishes with meat or vegetables but also itself as an appetizer. During summer it is very popular to eat Halloumi cheese with a watermelon - such a refreshing and tasty combination!
Moussaka is very famous not only in Cyprus but also in the Middle East and Greece. It’s oven baked dish which main ingredients are eggplants, beef, or lamb meat. Layers of them are covered with bechamel sauce and cheese. Everything is put in the oven and baked until it gets a golden color. Moussaka can be served hot or cold. It’s simple, very filling, and delicious!
One pot dish that contains lamb meat and potatoes splashed with a bit of lemon juice and aromatic herbs. The secret to the best flavor is long cooking time. Thanks to that meat becomes soft and tender. Kleftiko in greek means stolen meat and the legend says that years ago shepherds stole the meat and cooked it very slowly on a fire made in a hole in the ground so they could stay not found in their hideout.
Very Cypriot dish made from meat and taro (kolokassi) that people from the island have been eating for centuries. It’s a root that tastes similar to a potato. To prepare Kotopoulo usually are used chicken legs or beef. The meat, taro, and onion are put in one pot and stewed together. In another pot is prepared tomato sauce with various vegetables and herbs.
Souvla or souvlaki differ only in size. They are bigger or smaller meat chunks slowly prepared over charcoal barbeque. The meat can be different - lamb, pork, or chicken and the best is marinated the night before. Souvlaki are traditionally eaten during family or friends gatherings. While the meat is being cooked family members or close friends start the meeting with a glass of ouzo or zivania. Fortunately, souvlaki are also very common dish in restaurants. They are often served in a pita with tzatziki sauce and a portion of french fries. You should not skip trying this dish when visiting Cyprus!
Rice and meat wrapped in grape leaves. Dolmades are a popular appetizer in Cyprus. Its original taste should always be finished with lemon juice right before eating.
Tirokafteri is a kind of spicy dip made from feta cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, chili, and garlic. Next to tzatziki is one of the most famous sauces served with pita, fried potatoes, or even souvlaki. It’s a must-try!
As Cyprus is an island on the Mediterranean Sea the traditional cuisine must include also seafood. They are the most popular in coastal towns where every day you can get the freshest fish, and also prawns, calamari, oysters, or octopus. Seafood can be prepared in various ways - grilled, deep fried, baked, or roasted with the addition of olive oil. If you like fresh seafood you should definitely try Cypriot ones.
The famous dessert that brings pride to Cypriots. Palouze is a sweet jelly made of grape juice and can be served warm or chilled. As Cyprus has plenty of grape plantations it’s very typical and traditional sugary snack. Palouze is usually made in vineyards as secondary production, but a lot of people also prepare it every autumn at home.
Loukoumi originally come from Turkey, but also in Cyprus and Greece are very popular and traditional sweets. They are also called Turkish Delights. It’s simply a sweet little jelly that can have different flavors like rose, almonds, pistachios, vanilla, or fruity. Little cubes are covered with powder sugar. It’s impossible not to see them in markets and food stalls so make sure you give them a try!
Sweet deep-fried snacks made of donut dough and honey. Very popular to eat on Fat Thursday but not only! If you go to Cyprus you should try them because these little bites are one of the best sweets you can get on the island!
Sweet seeds bars that are made with carob syrup. Usually, sesame seeds are used for pasteli but it’s easy to find also mix of various ones. Sometimes even nuts are added to enrich the flavor even more.
As in Turkey, Greece, and Balkan countries baklava is the “king of desserts” also in Cyprus. A very sweet combination of pastry full of nuts, honey, and sugar syrup. It is so popular for a reason.
Did you know that wine production is a centuries long tradition in Cyprus? While being there it’s worth trying their local wine made from one of the best grapes in the world. You should not skip Commandaria wine which is the oldest wine in the world and the so-called queen of wines. It’s a sweet dessert wine that you can easily find in restaurants. Cyprus offers also great white wines so if you prefer this kind you will still have a lot of amazing choices. We also recommend visiting local vineyards to get the best experience and learn more about Cypriot wines.
The coffee that you can try in Cyprus is very similar to the Turkish one. It’s prepared in briki - a tall, narrow pot. It should be over the fire till kaimaki appears - it’s a coffee foam created on the top of the liquid. Cypriot coffee is very strong and is served in an espresso cup with a glass of water. Drink it carefully because on the bottom of the cup there are coffee grounds.
Cyprus also has a wide range of strong alcohols. Cypriot brandy is lighter than the classic one and contains around 30% of alcohol. You can enjoy local Brandy Sour which is a mix of alcohol, lemon juice, a few drops of angostura, and soda water. Also very popular in Cyprus are Zivania and Ouzo. Zivania is very strong alcohol also known as fiery water. The white color drink is made of grape pulp that is left from wine production process. Ouzo is another grape-based strong alcohol. If you fancy trying this kind of drink you should drink these two because they are very famous on the island.
Airani is a soft beverage based on fermented milk, water, mint, and salt. It’s popular to drink well chilled on a hot day. Natural drink without any preservatives is famous for its healthy qualities and refreshing effect. Drinking milk-based products and eating yogurt is popular in Cyprus and also in the Balkans and Greece.
We hope the article about Cypriot food made you even more excited about making the trip to the island. This beautiful country is famous for breathtaking landscapes and great food. We suggest you read other food guides that we created - Montenegro food guide, Maltese food guide, and many more! Follow us on Instagram @thewalkingparrot to be alerted when new articles are published!