The traditional cuisine of North Cyprus is colourful, rich, oriental and spicy. Why not taste some of the delicious local dishes that are on offer in the smaller, traditional restaurants. With exotic names here are 5 top dishes that you simply must try.
The tasty, savoury dish Molihiya/Molehiya is Arabic in origin but has developed to become a firm favourite in Cypriot cuisine. This local speciality uses Molihiya leaves which only grow in Cyprus and on the banks of the Nile. The leaves are green and leafy rather like spinach, it is dried out in the sun and has a strong flavour and taste. It is usually combined with cubed chicken, garlic, onion, tomatoes and flavoured with lemon juice, and tomato paste. The leaves are cooked first, then squeezed to remove excess water. The chicken is sauted in olive oil and then the garlic, chopped onion and diced tomatoes are added. Then the leaves and chicken are reunited in a pressure cooker with all the other ingredients. Let the pressure build and then time 20 minutes for your Molihiya dish to cook. When it is served you will be overwhelmed by the delicious spicy aroma…just writing this is making our mouths water.
This is a popular pasta dish in Cyprus. Chicken is boiled with onion until it is cooked through, next cook your pasta in the chicken stock adding salt and a stock cube for extra rich flavour. Meanwhile grate some halloumi cheese and mix with dried mint. Serve the pasta onto the plate then add the chicken in pieces or shredded, depending how you like it and the halloumi and mint. Garnish with green beans for a warming and filling dish.
There are many different kinds of kebabs available to try and most are classed as fast food, such as the doner or shish. Kup Kebap is different!This is a traditional dish made with lamb, potatoes and laurel leaves, the key to the flavour is that the ingredients are slow cooked in a sealed earthenware jar for up to 12 hours. While Greek Cypriots call this kebab “kleftiko”, meaning “thief”, the Turkish Cypriots refer to it as “kup Kebab”, meaning “kebab cooked in a jar”. Kup kebap is a favourite in homes and tavernas alike.
This very special dish of stuffed marrow flowers takes great care to prepare and has a delicate flavour. Cicek dolmasi is a favourite with Turkish Cypriots during the summer months when marrow flowers are in season. The flowers are collected early in the morning, the stems and pistils removed and then they are gently washed and dried. They can be either vegetarian when stuffed with cooked rice, onion and tomato or for meat eaters when filled with spicy ground meat. Delicate handling is needed as the flowers are stuffed, the petals folded in and then gently rested against one another in a pan containing a small amount of olive oil and water. The flowers are cooked over a gentle heat for about 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked. They look so beautiful and bring grace to any table.
Sulu Muallebi is a delicious pudding which is light and aromatic. It is rather like a set custard made with milk, , rice flour and flavoured with rose water all cooked slowly over a low heat. Once cooked it is cooled in the fridge and then garnished with sweet rose cordial for the perfect summer dessert. It always looks very pretty and makes a lovely end to any meal.
Be sure to try some of these traditional, local dishes to really get to know the flavours of North Cyprus.