A mouthwatering introduction to food in Cyprus
Greek recipes or mediterranean recipes will certainly become the flavour of the day once in Cyprus. Will buying food in Cyprus cause a big change to your food bill? We don't think so. A few items are a little more expensive but this is made up for by others being much cheaper. All in all we think you will find your supermarket bills to be very similar.
Paphos has a good supply of supermarkets, most of which sell food and household items. Most Greek recipes rely heavily on fresh vegetables and herbs which are in abundance and there are also the markets for fresh fruit and vegetables together with smaller bakeries and butchers. We have also found a health-food shop for your organic produce. Most ingredients can be obtained and speaking to the household chefs in Paphos, the concensus of opinion is that overall they are very happy with the quality of food in cyprus and what is on offer in the shops. They find the meat selection of a very high standard and very cheap and the fruit and vegetable variety abundant, fresh and exciting.
Eating out is not too expensive and Paphos has a good selection of tavernas, restaurants and hotels offering Greek recipes and international food menus together with a fine selection of chinese and indian restaurants. Basically, whatever you feel like eating you will be accommodated. If it is a local Greek recipe that takes your fancy it is always best to take note of where you see the locals eating and then you can be assured of the best! If you are not familiar with Greek recipes and Cypriot dishes, try ordering a 'Meze'. You can have a meat Meze, a fish
Meze or a mixed Meze. You will be served with small taster portions of their Greek recipes, consisting of about 10 - 15 dishes and these will give you samples of what Greek recipes have to offer and the flavours, including various cheeses, smoked ham, dips, salads, seafood, fish, stuffed vine leaves, homemade sausage, kebabs and moussaka. All this is then followed by fruits in season. We recommend that you start slow to enjoy and experience what Greek recipes offer because it just keeps on coming! A feast fit for the Gods. Unlike most mediterranean food, you will find that less oil is used in Greek recipes and it can be said that if you removed their love of honey soaked pastries, Greek recipes would ensure the Cypriot diet was a pretty healthy one. But what is life without a little badness every now and then!
To assist with your supermarket shopping experience we have listed below the Cypriot translations for the more obvious food products together with the names of the most popular Greek recipes that you will see on taverna/restaurant menus. We have also included a few Greek recipies for you to try.
LOCAL FOOD IN CYPRUS
BEEF - Vodino
LAMB - Arni
PORK - Hirino
CHICKEN - Kotopoulo
SMOKED PORK LOIN - Lountza
CYPRUS SAUSAGES - Louganika
AFELIA - pork cooked in red wine and crushed coriander seeds
HIROMERI - marinated, smoked and pressed ham
KEFTEDES - meat balls with mint
KLEFTIKO OFTO- lamb or goat wrapped in foil with herbs and baked in sealed oven
KOUPES- Fried meat rissoles enclosed in pastry
MOUSSAKAS - a pie made from layers of minced beef, spices and vegetable with a white sauce or cheese topping
SHEFTALIA- minced pork and herb rissole
SOUVLA- large chunks of lamb or goat cooked on a spit
SOUVLAKI - pork kebabs
STIFADO- rich beef and onion stew
TAVAS- veal, onion and herb dish served in little earthenware bowls, sprinkled with spices
YEMISTA- baked stuffed vegetables with rice and minced beef
RED MULLET - Barbouni
SEA BREAM - Fangri
RED BREAM - Lethrini
GILTHEAD SEA BREAM - Tsipoura
SQUID - Kalamari
WHITEBAIT - Marida
GROUPER - Vlachos
SWORDFISH - Xiphios
FISH MEALS IN CYPRUS:
OCTAPODI KRASTO - octopus in red wine
MEZE - A mixture of the fresh fish and seafood on offer
VEGETARIAN FOOD IN CYPRUS
FASOLIA - haricot beans cooked in a casserole
TIGANIA - omelette with courgettes, mushrooms or artichokes
FAVA BEAN SOUP - fava beans are pureed into a delicious soup called louvia
HUMMUS - chick pea paste
SALADS - Fresh rocket, capers, coriander, tomates, green veg, peppers, fetta cheese and fresh herbs
TRAKHANAS - soup made of grain soaked in yoghurt
YEMISTA- Stuffed vegetables or vine leaves including toamtoes, oniions, peppers and courgettes, all of which are stuffed with rice and herbs. Make sure it is known that you are vegetarian as these are also often stuffed with minced meat
TAHINI - sesame seed paste, served as a dip
TARAMOSALATA - dip made from smoked cod roe
TZANTZIKI/TALATTOURI - yoghurt, cucumber and mint dip
BAKLAVA - fillo pastry with nuts and syrup
DAKTYLA - almond finger pastries
FLAOUNES- Cypriot Easter cakes made from cheese and spices
GLYKO - preserves of almond, date, apricot, cherry, quince or grapes
LOUKOUMADES - small doughnuts served in syrup
RIZOGALO - rice pudding served with sprinkled cinnamon
SOUZOUKKO - a favorite at Cyprus festivals, made by dipping strings of nuts in heated grape juice until the confection solidifies
SNACK FOOD IN CYPRUS:
BOUREKIA - small puff pastries with meat, cheese or cream cheese filling
HOUMOUS - dip from soaked, crushed chickpeas
KOUPEPIA or DOLMADES - stuffed vine leaves
ELIOTI- olive bread
FETA- salty white cheese usually crumbled on village salads
HALLOUMI- firm goats' or ewes' milk cheese, often served grilled
A FEW GREEK RECIPES FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT
1) ANTHI - (stuffed courgette flowers)
Fresh and open courgette blossoms
Half a kilo of crushed wheat (bulgur) - some people use rice or minced meat instead
1-2 onions and 1 bunch of spring onions
Some dried mint
1 small coffee cup of olive oil (a little more if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preparing the courgette blossoms:
Choose blossoms which are open and fresh. Do not wash them. Remove the stem and the green bits which are on the outside. Make sure the insides are free from insects or soil or any other foreign body.
Mix the rest of the ingredients well.
Fill flowers with mixture using a teaspoon. Do not overfill as the mixture will expand when cooked. Close flowers carefully by folding over the sides.
Place flowers in a medium saucepan carefully. They must be quite tightly packed so that they do not open while cooking. Place a plate on top of the flowers and then add water to cover the plate (this is to avoid the flowers opening while cooking). Bring saucepan to the boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Allow to stand for at least ½ - 1 hour before serving; its best for them to cool so that they do not crumble when you remove them from the heat.
2) MOUSSAKA - Made in one large or several smaller individual terracotta pots
Ingredients (Feeds 4-6):
1Kg aubergines or courgettes or a mixture (trimmed and sliced lengthways thickly)
2 large potatoes. cooked, peeled and sliced (optional item)
1/2 glass (1100ml) olive or sunflower oil
2 Medium onions sliced
500g minced beef or lamb
2 large tomatoes, grated, or one 4OOg tin of tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1 stick cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 glass (100ml) red wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the white sauce:
4 level tablespoons flour
1 pint warm milk
1 glass (200ml) grated cheese - hallotimi, kefalotiri or cheddar
1. Immerse the aubergine slices in lightly salted water for 30 minutes, then rinse and, squeezing them gently, pat dry with kitchen towel. The courgettes need no attention.
2. Fry the aubergine or courgette slices in the oil, turning the slices, so that they brown but don't cook through. Leave, them to drain on kitchen paper.
3. Pan fry the onions in the rest of the oil till soft then add the meat and stir. Add the tomatoes, herbs, spices, seasoning and the wine and continue to cook for about 25 minutes when the liquid should have been absorbed.
4. For the white sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and then add the warm milk gradually, whisking hard to remove any lumps. Take the saucepan away from the heat and stir in the seasoning, spices and cheese. Make sure that the sauce has cooled before adding the eggs.
To assemble the moussakas:
Either use a 10- x 10- (25cm x 25cm) baking dish or 6 individual pots and line the base with slices of cooked aubergine or- courgette (Add a layer of cooked potato if you are using it).
Spread the meat in a layer over the aubergine and cover with the remainder of the aubergine and potato. Cover the top of the Moussakas, with white sauce and bake in a moderate oven Gas Mark 4, 350'F for about 50 minutes until the top is a good crusty brown.
3) AFELIA - Pork cooked in red wine and crushed coriander seeds
Ingredients (Feeds 4-6):
1kg boned lean pork, diced
1 glass (200ml) red wine
1-2 tablespoons coriander seeds, crushed coarsely
salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 stick cinnamon
6 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil
1. Marinate the meat in the wine and spices for at least 4 hours, overnight if possible.
2. Lift the meat out of the marinade and dry on kitchen paper. Keep the marinade for later.
3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based casserole and brown the cubes of meat a few at a-time, until all are brown.
4. Wipe any excess oil from the pan and return all the meat. Pour over the marinade and enough cold water to just cover the meat. Cover the casserole with a lid and cook gently, either in the oven or on top for about 30 minutes or until the meat is tender.
5. Almost all of the liquid should have evaporated to leave a thick sauce. If necessary cook the afelia uncovered for a further 10 minutes to reduce excess liquid.
4) KOUPEPIA - (Stuffed Vine Leaves also known as dolmades)
1 onion, chopped
200g pork mince
200g lamb or beef mince
125 mL red wine
1 cup rice
juice of 1 lemon
½ onion, chopped
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped mint
1 tomato, chopped
a generous splash of olive oil
ground pepper and salt
375g vine leaves* (reserve approx. 4-6 leaves to line the tin and another 4-5 for the top. You can use damaged ones. They stop the koupepia from burning, and help retain the moisture.)
125 mL hot water
* Vine leaves in brine can be bought from a delicatessen. To prepare, remove the brine by washing with cold water. If you have access to fresh vine leaves, put them in boiling water until soft. You can also add a little vinegar to enhance the flavour.
Greek recipe Method:
1) Fry onion until translucent in olive oil and add mince. Cook meat thoroughly.
2) Add red wine to taste.
3) Stir rice through meat and onion mixture and add lemon juice to prevent rice from becoming gluggy. Cook for about 30 seconds and remove from heat. (The rice stays uncooked at this stage.)
4) In a bowl put the additional onion, parsley, mint, tomato, pepper and salt.
5) Add the mince mixture and mix thoroughly.
To shape a koupepia, place a vine leaf, shiny side down, on the work surface. Snip off stem if necessary. Put approximately a tablespoon of meat mixture near stem end, then fold in the end and sides over the stuffing and roll firmly. Continue until all the mixture is used.
Line the base of a heavy pan with leaves and pack the koupepia close together in layers. Add another layer of leaves on top.
Pour in hot water and then drizzle olive oil over the top.
Invert a heavy plate on top to keep rolls in shape during cooking.
Cover pan with lid and put on a medium heat. Reduce to a slow simmer and cook gently over low heat for 30 minutes.
Try a koupepia to test if the rice is cooked – this may take another 10 minutes or so. Add a little extra water to the pan if needed to retain moisture.
5) BAKLAVA - Dessert (Use walnuts, pecans, or other nuts in this delicious baklava.)
1 packet frozen phyllo sheets
1 cup melted butter
2 cups finely chopped walnuts or blanched almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup honey
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Greek recipe Directions for baklava:
Thaw phyllo pastry and separate sheets according to package directions. Place half of pastry sheets in a greased 15x10x1-inch baking pan, one by one, brushing each sheet quickly and all over with melted butter. Combine nuts, 1/2 cup sugar, and cinnamon; sprinkle over buttered pastry. Place remaining sheets on top, brushing each with melted butter. Cut baklava pastry into 2-inch diamonds. Bake at 400° until brown and crisp, about 30 to 35 minutes. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine remaining 3/4 cup sugar, honey, 1 cup water, and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Boil baklava syrup for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until syrupy. Cool and pour over baklava.
If this has now started the taste buds flowing for the experience of Greek recipes and food in Cyprus and you feel you want more, we would recommend that the following book of Greek receipes and food in Cyprus, be given pride of place on your kitchen shelf.
"Vefa's Kitchen" is the first authoritative and all-encompassing Greek recipe book in English. Doing for Greek cuisine what the hugely successful "Silver Spoon" did for Italian, it contains more than 700 fully updated, straightforward and mouthwatering recipes. Aimed at all lovers of Mediterranean food.
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