Cypriot food is often branded or compared with Greek Food. Whilst it does have many similarities it is different in as many ways. Cyprus’ food, like its culture are unique to the island due to its location, climate, geography and long history.


Cyprus is one of the largest islands in the eastern Mediterranean. It’s size and location is highly sought after ever since the Ancient Egyptians set their eyes on it over 12,000 years ago! Since then the it has been occupied by many kingdoms and empires which have influenced its culinary history, from the Ancient Greeks and Romans, to the Ottoman and very recent British Empire. Unlike the other main Mediterranean countries Cyprus has had far more exposure to flavours from the Middle East, but also has been supplied with ingredient as far as East Asia and East African regions which were inaccessible to other close by countries.

Cyprus historic influences map

Cyprus uniquely has a vast expanse of flat pastoral land and is more suited to growing vegetables, crops, and the cultivation of poultry unlike its Greek counterpart. This has meant that plant based and dairy food has always been a fundamental part of the diet with meat being secondary. My Louvana Soup is the prime example of this.

The islands food is very culturally orientated. If you’ve ever been to a Greek, Cypriot, or an Italian family’s home you will realise how hospitable they are. You surely will have been offered (or pushed) to have some food or drink whilst there. This derives from a long history of hardship and being home to lots of small communities. In essence people supported each other and would share what they had in the hope that if they were without others would share what they had. In the past sharing prosperity has been a way to demonstrate their status and esteem in local villages. This is why in Cyprus many local dishes are served in the middle of the dining table to be shared just like you would enjoy a meze.

Its multi-cultural background has meant it has become a cosmopolitan haven, largely made up of Orthodox Christians but also encompasses large communities of Sunni Muslims, Maronite Catholics and Jewish, as well as lots of others. Each of these have their own practices and such as fasting and traditional celebratory dishes which have been amplified across the religious sects due to the liberal relaxed nature of the country. One of the biggest examples is the large variety of vegetarian dishes available which have developed during fasting the local fasting lent period. Also synonymous with this are the celebratory pastries such as Flaounes exclusively from Cyprus prepared at Easter.

 Flavours & Delicacies

Like many Mediterranean countries Cypriot foods savoury dishes are based around well seasoned grilled meats, pasta rice and potato dishes which are all cooked together with vegetables to enhance the flavours. The prevalent seasonings and dressings in a lot of the dishes which both Cypriot and Greek food shares are the use of oregano, coriander, olive oil and always with lemon!

When I first moved in with my husband he joked saying everything I serve comes with lemon. He didn’t realise how true this was until we watched a programme exploring Greece where the presenter was having some food prepared by an old greek lady. As she picked up her fork to start eating and the elderly woman, swiftly grabbed the fork and stopped her from eating before squeezing the fresh lemon over the dish. Proceeding then to say; “you are missing the key ingredient!”  . . Picture the ‘I told you so’ look on my face.

The biggest difference you’ll find with Cypriot food and Greek food is the huge integration of pulses, grains and legumes into so many dishes. Along with this Cypriots have their own version of many of the traditional greek dishes. This often integrates the use of onions, tomatoes and garlic, know as “yiahni” (yia-chh-nee) . This likely was imparted from the large number of Maronite settlers cooking in a “tavas” over 1000 years ago, then developed during Venetian occupation coincidentally its a ragu like sauciness is evident in many roasted, braised and stewed dishes. 

A great example is between Greek and Cypriot stuffed vine leaves. In Greece they’re known as dolmades, in Cyprus they’re know as koupepia and for good reason.  . . These are my favourite food my Yiayia makes. She uses a seasoned mincemeat & rice stuffing, with onions, tomatoes and herbs and lemon all wrapped in a vine leaf, boiled in tomato juice and stock. These are extremely flavourful and juicy and need no sauce. I ordered dolmades in a restaurant believing I would get something similar. I was presented with something entirely different dressed in green sauce. As a 10 year old, I threw up a fuss and refused to eat the plain sushi I believed i was tricked into ordering.


I’m sure by now most of you reading are familiar with halloumi which cheese, solely produced in Cyprus, if not your missing out. Like a lot of local combinations the salty cheese often is paired with a sweet contrast of watermelon in the summer months.

Sweets and treats of Cyprus are commonly flavoured uniquely with rose, orange blossom water, carob and honey. Some of my favourite Cypriot specialities include Ekmek Katayifi (custardy cream on syrupy wheat base) , Cypriot Loukoumades (honey doughnuts), Pastichia (almond cookies) and if you are there in the summer you must try Mahalepi available at many of the ice cream shops. Don’t worry I will be covering many of these in my recipes to come.


If your looking for Coffee in Cyprus it is part of the culture. It’s the home of one of the first coffee houses to be set up in modern Europe over 400 years ago. Cyprus coffee is a strong smooth small drink served in in small glass accompanied by a glass of water. In summer you’ll also find the majority of locals drinking iced coffees, called frappe, which is a ‘cool’ way to get your coffee fix in the heat (excuse the cheesey pun).

In terms of alcoholic drinks Cyprus has its own type of brandy and associate cocktail; the Brandy Sour. Ziavania is also the main local spirit produced on the island. It is actually a type of very strong pomace brandy, with alcoholic volume between 45-60%, created in the production of a local wine called Xynisteri. Ziavania is usually served ice cold in a small shot sized glass. It has no acidity but smooth and a taste of raisins when matured. Cyprus has become more notable for its wines. Originally know for sweet wines such as Comandaria it is now notable for its other wines including Xynisteri, Moshato and Maratheftiko wines. We visited the Vasilikon winery in the Troodos mountains in 2021 and I would highly recommend a visit to one of the wineries. 

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