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Cypriot cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine that takes its ingredients and flavors from signature Greek and Turkish fare, whose specialities are cooking on grill and widely using yoghurt, parsley, garlic.
A mild climate and fertile soil of Cyprus allow to grow a variety of fruit and vegetables. Peaches, pear, apple, nut trees and vineyards grow on the slopes of the Troodos mountains. Carob, olive and a large variety of citrus trees such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits, clementine, pomelo grow in the rest of the island. Potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and other vegetables are grown on the most fertile soil in the southeast.
Cypriot cuisine is characterised by a large number of meat dishes; the locals prefer lamp, pork and poultry for meat dishes, beef is used less often. Sea bass, sea bream, tuna, swordfish, salmon, squid and octopus are Cypriots’ favourite fish and seafood.
Meat or fish «Meze» served almost everywhere on the island is the best way to try couple dozens of different dishes during just one meal. It’s a traditional set of appetizers and dishes, served in small amount. Usually, "meze" consists of more than 20 dishes and appetizers and can show the diversity of all Cypriot cuisine.
Kleftiko - a famous Cypriot dish - is made from marinated lamb (if desired, with potatoes, onions and carrots) cooked in the oven. The dish can be ordered separately or in a set of "meze", offered in almost every tavern and restaurant on the island.
Souvla is another favorite dish of Cypriots and guests of the island. It is cooked from large pieces of lamb or pork, sprinkled with salt and seasoned just before skewing, then cooked over charcoal. Souvla is usually served with raw vegetables salad, grilled pita and Halloumi cheese.
Moussaka is a dish with layered sliced eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, minced meat, baked with bechamel sauce and grated cheese on top.
Sheftalias are small patties, wrapped in caul fat, grilled or cooked over charcoal, often served with potatoes, raw vegetables and parsleys.
As for fish and seafood dishes, locals love them and use the simplest classical ways of cooking: roasting, grilling and deep frying. Large species of fish, such as seabass, seabream, swordfish, salmon, tuna, are usually grilled or baked, if possible, in whole or large pieces in foil. An integral part of the dish is always a slice of lemon, the juice of which you can sprinkle on the fish to your taste.
Smaller fish like red mullet is usually deep fried in oil.
The most common way Cypriots cook octopus and squid is grill.
Among local cheeses, halloumi and anari are the most popular.
Halloumi is a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese made from a mixture of goat and sheep milk, and sometimes also cow milk. This traditional Cypriot cheese is usually grilled or fried.
Anari is a soft crumbly cheese similar to ricotta. Anari is often eaten fresh, cut into slices, with honey or carob syrup, and is widely used in bakery.
The most popular desserts are loukoumades - fried dough balls soaked in syrup or honey; loukoumi - traditional Cypriot sweet, made mainly in the village of Yeroskipou - soft chewy sweets made of cornstarch, sugar, with the addition of various fruit juices, rose water, nuts (pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts), dusted with icing sugar to prevent them from sticking together. Another well-known dessert is soujouk or shoushouko - sausage-shaped sweet made of boiled grape juice with almonds or walnuts inside. And finally, one of the most favorite sweets in Cyprus and, perhaps, the most famous Eastern sweet in the world is baklava. It is made of thinly rolled dough sheets, filled with honey and nuts and topped with syrup.