Want to learn about Cypriot food? Looking for Cypriot recipes? Read Meliz Berg's guide below, then check out 10 of the best Mediterranean islands for foodies. We also have our Cook like a local: Ikaria, Greece, and Cook like a local: Crete.
Words and recipes extracted from Meliz's Kitchen: Simple Turkish-Cypriot Comfort Food and Fresh Family Feasts by Meliz Berg (£25, Ebury Press).
Cyprus is a cultural and culinary melting pot. The impact of Turkish and Greek gastronomy is undeniable but it has its own distinct repertoire of recipes influenced by Eastern cuisines. The ingredients used in many Cypriot dishes can be traced back to Arabic and Asian cooking where spices such as sweet cinnamon, aniseed and cumin, and fresh produce such as jute mallow, okra and taro root provide the backbone to some of its unique dishes.
Cyprus enjoys a hot climate for most of the year, with a coastline that delivers an abundance of fish and seafood, such as sea bass, bream and octopus. Home-grown produce includes wild asparagus, white courgettes and black-eyed beans. Bitter oranges and bergamots are preserved whole in jams, and citrus fruits are made into cordials (limonata), with the thickly sliced zests, along with walnuts and watermelon rinds made into spoon sweets (macun).
Ripe red watermelons are rarely eaten without uncooked slices of halloumi (sheep/goat’s milk cheese), with the whey made into a Cypriot ricotta known as nor or anari. Uncooked halloumi can also be finely grated, mixed with dried mint and sprinkled over dishes such as magarına bulli (pasta and chicken). Mint (dried and fresh) is used in salad dressings and meze such as cacık, and it’s also used to flavour savoury bakes such as hellimli zeytinli (halloumi and black olive bread).
This vegan dish comes from Cyprus and can be eaten hot, warm or cold – it involves roasting veg with a colourful combination of herbs and sweet, warm spices.
This savoury cake is packed with Cypriot flavours, including oregano, mint, black olives and salty halloumi – it makes an impressive centrepiece to serve to friends.
This Cypriot meat patty dish is made with lamb and beef mince – a great alternative to burgers at a barbecue. You can cook it in the oven, too.