Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 2009 - Cyprus

Cypriot cuisine has evolved as a fusion of Greek and Turkish cuisines. Halloumi, or known as hellim in Turkish – is the national cheese of Cyprus. Cypriots grill their food over charcoal. Traditionally, artisha (cumin) and kolliandros (coriander) seeds make up the main cooking aromas of the island. Mint is a very important herb in Cyprus. It grows voraciously, and locals use it for everything, particularly in dishes containing ground meat.
Our menu for the evening is:

  • Watermelon and Halloumi Salad

  • Pita and Hummus

  • Chicken Souvlaki

  • Koftes

  • Machalepi and Turkish (Cypriot) Delight

What I love about these evenings is that each one seems better than the last. Cyprus was a huge hit. The watermelon, basil and halloumi salad was a fabulous combination. The saltiness of the cheese versus the intense sweetness of the watermelon created a fusion of flavours which just worked so well. We didn't bother to separate the courses this time and just stuffed our pita breads with the salad, the hummus and the souvlaki and kofte balls. The souvlaki were a mix of chicken and grilled halloumi basted in ouzo, honey, olive oil and vinegar. The kofte balls were heavy on the mint adding a Greek spin on the normal meatball. Dessert was interesting. The machalepi is a rosewater and cornflour dessert with a consistency not unlike jelly. It was pleasant but I don't know if it would hold mass appeal as the rosewater flavour is very strong. We accompanied the dessert with Turkish delight (which is claimed by the Cypriots as being their national food too) and the closest thing to baklava that was available at the local bakery.

All in all it was a very light meal and quite different from all the heavy curries and stews that have preceded it until now. A very nice supper to whip together at the last minute.