This post is for those people might be visiting Cyprus for the first time, and don’t understand the menu items in traditional tavernas but are too shy to ask! In my opinion you should try them all at least once, I love most of them (mind you I eat pretty much anything and everything!) except the Pastourmas which are just not to my taste. And not on this list, but don’t be surprised if you order Meze, to be served brains and/or snails, these are considered a real delicacy!
1. MEZE – Meaning to taste or snack, traditionally Meze is served for a minimum of 2 people, and consists of a variety of traditional salad, dips, bread, vegetable and meat dishes. Word of warning, not for the faint hearted Meze can be anywhere up to 44 small dishes, so go hungry, take your time, and enjoy! A must for every visitor, at least once, to get a taste of the national dishes of Cyprus.
2. SOUVLAKI / SOUVLA – Cypriot version of a kebab but waaay better than the late night Turkish style kebabs in the UK that you order after a skinful of beer at the end of the night! This is meat cooked over a charcoal grill / BBQ on skewers. Souvlaki is smaller cubes of chicken or pork, and Souvla is large chunks of pork or lamb often on the bone but cooked in the same way, both are utterly delicious.
3. SHEFTALIA – Looks like a cross between a meatball and a sausage, they are made of minced pork with herbs and spices, and are so tender and mouth-wateringly tasty, though raw look quite disgusting as they are wrapped in caul fat, but mmmm one of my favourites!
4. KLEFTIKO – Slow baked lamb cooked for up to 12 hours in a traditional wood burning clay oven, with potatoes, lemon, garlic and oregano. The cooking process ensures that the lamb just falls off the bone.
5. AFELIA – A braised pork dish (yes another pork dish I know, but pork is cheap and plentiful in Cyprus), made with small cubes of meat marinaded and cooked in red wine and garlic, with coriander.
6. STIFADO – A slow cooked stew made traditionally with rabbit but often also made with beef, shallots and tomatoes. Cinammon, cloves, garlic, red wine vinegar and olive oil are also used, which give it a distinctive flavour.
7. PASTOURMA / LOUKANIKA – Cured spicy village sausage made with beef or pork, red wine, salt, garlic and spices. Quite strong tasting, reminds me of black pudding but spicier.
8. LOUNTZA – Smoked Cypriot ham made from loin of pork, it’s a sandwich filling favourite for Cypriots, often served on pitta with Halloumi cheese and salad.
9. MOUSSAKA- Another one of my absolute favourites, moussaka is a spicy casserole usually made with lamb and layers of potato, aubergine and courgette, topped with a thick bechamel sauce and cheese, baked in the oven until the top is bubbly and crispy – the ultimate Cypriot comfort food.
I hope you found this post useful, coming soon I will be posting about the amazing array of vegetarian dishes to be found in a Cyprus, and there are A LOT!
Love from Nelly x