With a close link to three continents that have each had their influence on the island, the cuisine of Cyprus is truly unique. The Cyprus people certainly love their food, and no gathering is complete without at least a handful of dishes on the table. In addition, no one should visit Cyprus without experiencing the traditional meze. This meal is unlike anything you’ve experienced before, and you need to be sure to set aside plenty of time for it as you’re likely to be served up in excess of 25 different dishes! One item you’re very likely to find playing a starring role in the meze is the traditional Cyprus cheese halloumi.
A unique cheese with a distinct texture
Halloumi is unlike most other cheeses and it’s very versatile too. It has a slightly rubbery texture and is salted, giving it a particular flavour that works well with other ingredients. Due to its high melting point it’s a great cheese for grilling or frying. There are so many uses for this wonderful cheese from Cyprus.
How halloumi is made
Halloumi is made to a traditional recipe that has remained largely unchanged for centuries. It is made from a mixture of both sheep and goat’s milk and sometimes also cow’s milk, which is heated and then rennet is added. The mixture is cooled so the curds and whey separate, then the curds are left to become firm. The next stage involves the poaching of the curds in the whey with a little salt. Finally the cheese is preserved in brine giving it a long shelf life.
Different ways to enjoy halloumi
There are plenty of ways to prepare halloumi and it can be incorporated into a wide variety of dishes. The simplest way to eat halloumi of course is simply cold, and this is a popular Cypriot breakfast, served up with bread, olives and watermelon. A few pieces of halloumi will also add a little extra interest to a fresh salad, perfect for a lunch under the hot Cyprus sunshine. It’s delicious grilled and is particularly enjoyable in a sandwich with Lountza, the local cured pork loin.
When eaten as part of a meze, you may find it barbecued or fried with eggs. It’s delicious in pasta dishes, and also works well as a stuffing for ravioli.
A great source of protein
One serving of halloumi contains a very decent 19g of protein, making halloumi a great cheese for vegetarians looking for more sources of protein. Halloumi is also an excellent source of calcium and it’s rich in vitamins and minerals too, being a good source of B vitamins, vitamin A, magnesium, selenium and zinc.
So don’t forget to try halloumi
Next time you visit Cyprus, you must remember to try the local halloumi and you can even buy some to take home with you to share with friends and family and bring back those holiday memories.
Discover more health and nutrition information
For more facts and tips about the health benefits of visiting Cyprus, and about the healthcare opportunities available on the island, please visit the Cyprus Health Services Promotions Board for a wealth of information and advice.