Cyprus plays host to some culinary controversy. Those who are well-versed in infamous international dishes may be aware of the Cypriot dish known as “Ambelopoulia”. It’s been illegal in Cyprus since 1974, traditionally a grilled, pickled or boiled songbird, which the consumer is encouraged to swallow whole.
That shouldn’t detract from the more wholesome and mouth-watering Cypriot delicacies, however. Cyprus is home to some of the most delectable recipes in the world – many of which you might not have encountered before.
Here are a few to whet your appetite.
Pronounced “bum-yes”, Bamies are a small vegetarian dish designed as a side to accompany roasted or grilled mains.
Bamies are easy to make. The primary ingredient is okra, more commonly known in the UK as “ladies’ fingers”, which are collectively softened in a mixture of white vinegar and salt water for an hour or two before they’re sautéed in garlic and left to simmer in a rich tomato sauce.
Meze offer an authentic taste of the former Ottoman Empire. The name “meze” is a Turkish word meaning “taste” and “flavour”.
Generally, meze is a selection of small dishes tailored to accompany alcoholic drinks; think tapas as a good reference point. The most popular accompanying Cypriot beverage is Cyprus Brandy, served over ice.
You can expect a meze selection to include marinated olives, garlic bread and grilled halloumi, a cheese native to Cyprus. Examples of popular meze include Köfte, Falafel and Hummus, but the more adventurous varieties include stuffed grapevines and fish roe.
The etymological origin of “moussaka” is actually Arabic, which translates as “chilled”. Middle Eastern countries eat moussaka cold, but the Cypriots enjoy theirs piping hot, closer to our Western routes.
Aesthetically, moussaka may remind you of shepherd’s pie or lasagne. The Cypriot variety of the dish hails from the 1920s, when the popular Greek chef Tselementes whipped up a delightful version in which a layer of aubergines, sautéed in olive oil, was topped with a layer of ground lamb with puréed tomatoes, onion and garlic. He topped it off with a luscious layer of Béchamel sauce.
Moussaka can be ordered at most Cypriot restaurants.
This traditional Cypriot food is a delicious dish of the crépinette variety. Crépinettes originate from French cuisine, small flattened sausage parcels seasoned with a variety of aromatic spices.
Sheftalia is a particularly delicious take on the crépinette formula. Instead of a skin, the sausage is “naked”, if you will, wrapped instead in caul fat. The sausage filling can be ground shoulder or leg of lamb, as well as the closer-to-home ingredient that is ground pork.
These scrumptious plat du jours are grilled on a Foukou, a traditional Cypriot barbecue.
Flaouna is a special Easter and Ramadan dish enjoyed seasonally, mainly by Orthodox Jewish and Muslim Cypriots. They function as a palatable dessert, a cheese-filled pastry with a sesame seed topping. The dough recipe is similar to English shortcrust pastry.
Flaounas are made on Good Friday, and are eaten to celebrate the end of lent. It’s a delightful part of family tradition. Anyone with a chance to try an authentic Cypriot flaouna is in for an ambrosial treat.
If you’re looking for the ultimate gourmet experience during a luxury break in Cyprus, Antara Palace is the place for you. All of our dishes are prepared by creative, experienced chefs who know how to tantalise your taste buds.