Before I visited Cyprus the one thing everyone said to me was:
“Oh my goodness, you’re going to LOVE the food.”
They didn’t tell me about the gorgeous views, the beaches, the bright blue sea and those incredible Cypriot sunsets. No, everyone just went on and on about the food.
It wasn’t until I had my first lunch in Cyprus that I truly understood what they were raving about. Oh my, the food in Cyprus is amazing!
Meals in Cyprus are enjoyed slowly. It’s a time for friends and families to come together and graze and nibble and sip wine as the sun goes down. Mezes are a popular kind of meal. A meze is similar to tapas with lots of small dishes brought out to share among the table. The meal usually begins with a light salad along with warm, fresh bread and plenty of tasty dips like tahini, hummus and talattouri, a dip made with Greek yoghurt, grated cucumber, garlic and mint.
Travel tip: You need to be careful at this point not to fill up on all that delicious bread, there’s a lot more to come!
Over the next hour or two a huge selection of dishes will be brought out. They will usually include fresh fish grilled whole, seafood like calamari and fat prawns. Meat dishes such as chicken, pork or small kebabs appear as well as delicious cheeses like soft feta and grilled halloumi.
You think you’re stuffed and couldn’t possibly eat another thing but then more tempting dishes come bustling out of the kitchen and a tiny taste turns into another plateful of deliciousness.
After my trip to Cyprus I knew I was going to have to recreate some of these amazing meals at home. My only problem is I’m a terrible, terrible cook.
People who can cook don’t seem to understand the concept of a terrible cook. You just use quality ingredients and follow a recipe, how can it be that difficult?
I know, I know. I think the same. It shouldn’t be that difficult but whenever I attempt to make anything more complicated than a fish finger sandwich it turns into a hideous mess even my dog won’t eat.
While I was in Cyprus I visited Paradise Hills Hotel for a cooking class. The class was amazing as we hung out in the restaurant kitchen and helped/got in the way while some delicious dishes were created. Niki, our teacher, made cooking look so easy. So easy, in fact, that I decided to give it a go at home.
I was using a cookbook you can download from the Visit Cyprus website and opted for one of the easiest things I could find, Keftedes.
Making Cypriot Keftedes
Keftedes are described as delicious pork balls best served with lemon, yoghurt and Greek salad.
They’re so easy to make that even I managed it.
This recipe makes A LOT of keftedes and would easily serve a minimum of 6 people.
- 1kg coarsely minced pork
- 1kg potatoes – grated
- 2 large onions – finely chopped
- ¼ load of stale bread – made into breadcrumbs
- 1 small bunch of fresh mint leaves – finely chopped
- 3 eggs – beaten
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- Olive oil
- Add all your prepared ingredients to a large bowl and mix together
- Pat down flat, add a thin layer of olive oil, cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes (I didn’t do this and they were fine)
- Roll your mixture into small balls – wet your hands to avoid the mixture sticking to you
- Fry in a pan of hot olive oil until cooked through and brown on the outside
- Serve with lemon wedges, salad and loads of tips
The dips I used were
- Roasted aubergine dip (I don’t know how traditional this is but it’s delicious)
I had every intention of making my own dips but I realised it would be way more expensive to buy all the ingredients than it would be to buy pre-made pots. I know this is cheating but you’ve got to think about those precious pennies!
And there you have it, a really easy and delicious mini meze all the way from Cyprus.
Monday 25th of August 2014
You've got me so hungry now and I know what you mean about getting nervous. I always feel like that when I know someone from the country I've written about reads my post or shares it on Facebook (great when they do of course). And I get especially nervous about my cooking posts - I really want to get it right.
Wednesday 20th of August 2014
This looks great! I tried my hand at making Cypriot cuisine but when I presented it to my boyfriend (Cypriot, btw) he said..."Well this is good, but Mom makes it this way..." So since i knew I could never equal Mom - I gave up. Your post wants me to try again!
Wednesday 20th of August 2014
Ha, you should never try to compete with a guy's mum! I don't think I'd dare make this for a Cypriot. A Cypriot chef retweeted this post earlier and I got so nervous in case I've made any mistakes! (Which I'm sure I have). Oh well, it was tasty.