Food and Drink (Cuisine) of North Cyprus

For those who appreciate rich, spicy, oriental cuisine, North Cyprus is a paradise, and for those who don`t, there is still a wide variety of well-prepared dishes. Eating places range from small restaurants to first-class hotels which serve mainly European-style meals. The latter are, however, somewhat expensive, and perfectly satisfactory meals may be obtained in the smaller establishments. The service is generally courteous and good, and most restaurant waiters and waitresses know sufficient English, French, or German.

Thrkish Cypriots are very fond of lemon juice as a flavouring and fresh lemon juice or the sliced fruit are invariably served with each meal, together with slices of radish and brown bread.

Soups are generally not up to European standard, though the local rice soup with eggs and lemon is unusual and tasty. However, it is in savoury dishes that the Turkish Cypriot cuisine excels.

Kieufdhe (hofte), a kind of spicy rissole made with meat, eggs, and garlic is a North Cyprus speciality. Also in the same family is dolma, which has rice added and is wrapped in either grape or lettuce leaves before being cooked.

The fresh meat of North Cyprus is of high quality, though more expensive than the imported frozen variety. A real delicacy is suckling lamb roasted whole; the meat is so tender it melts in one`s mouth. This must be sampled at all costs. `Qeftali` kebab is another famous Turkish Cypriot dish. Chunks of lamb meat and liver are skewered and then wrapped in strips of the caul. This is turned slowly over smouldering charcoal. A visit to North Cyprus is incomplete until one has sampled kebab. Here and there in the streets one will see a stange-looking contraption on wheels surmounted by a tin chimney, the whole device belching clouds of thick acrid smoke. This is a kebab machine. In the centre is a metal box containing hot charcoal, which produces the smoke, and above this a large funnel and chimney, which are supposed to carry it away into the upper air. In practice this does not happen, and one can essily track down a kebab stall byjust watching for the dense billowing flimes. Small cubes of fresh lamb and fat are skewered and roasted over the charcoal, which keeps up a monotonous hissing noise as the juices drip into it. When the meat is ready, the kebab operator delves into the recesses of the stall and brings forth a flat, oval envelope of bread.

He cuts it across, and fills the envelope to bursting with the meat slices of onion, tomatoes, chopped parsley, and green peppers, adding a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon to taste. It is then eaten in the hands, somewhat after the style of a Cornish pasty. when made well, this Turkish speciality can be delicious, and it is popular among the; working classes as a convenient and cheap packed lunch. It is served in the best hotels minus the bread wrapping under its Turkish name, `shish kebab`.

Eating a Turkish Cypriot meal is, as is always the case with Oriental food, something of an exotic adventure. But it is one well worth undertaking, as the diner will be rewarded by tasty, aromatic, and nourishing dishes, which please the palate and satisfy the apppetite.

If one visits a Turkish Cypriot house, one can be assured of receiving warm hospitality. A tiny cup of strong, sweet Turkish coffee will be offered, together with a plate of tpasta-cakes` containing honey and nuts; or in the summer, glasses of iced water with crystallized fruits, or a spoonful of jam.

The traveller with a sweet tooth will appreciate tlokum`, `lokma` and `~ami~i`. Lok urn` is Turkish Delight, and is famous throughout the world. `Lokrna` are little balls of paste made from flour, sugar, and yeast, fried and then dipped in syrup. The result is a crisp, sweet crunchy confection that just melts in your mouth. `~arni~i` is made of fried flaky pastry filled with jellied cream. These two sweetmeats1 accompanied by Turkish coffee are to be found in small caf6s devoted to. their production, which, because of the frying equipment installed in them, bear a striking resemblance to an English fish and chip stall.

An essential part of eating for pleasure are mezes, literally tit-bits~ which are served in most places with drinks. Consisting of little dishea which originated as food for travellers served in open-air restaurants, meze offers huge selections of small tit-bits such as salads, cold vegetables, kebabs, stuffed vine leaves, hummus, and falafel, stuffed vegetables, cheeses, small bo~reks (stuffed pastries), rice and grains, and beans in sauces. In addition, there are the traditional fish of the Mediterranean Sea like mullet (the red and the grey variety), sardines1 tuna fish, and lagos. Squid and swordfish, although rare, also are excellent. Shellfish and octopus are also part of the famous mere buffet-style meals of North Cyprus.

It is always a pleasant attraction to visit the market in Nicosia. Noisy, bustling crowds of shoppers and vendors browse amongst thQ stalls and barrows piled high with the freshest fruits and vegetables; for the most part organically grown by the villagers themselves. Dafry products, huge sacks of flour, wheat, rice (brown and white), and pastas also abound. White cheese (beyaz peynir), goats` cheese (hellim), olives, honey, and all the natural wholesome foods which make Turkish cuisine 80 delicious are brought to market from the villages on Fridays.

Yoghurt plays an important part in Turkish life. Thick and creamy, it complements meats and vegetables, is added to sauces, kebabs, salads, and cakes. Very young babies are soon weaned onto yoghurt which is as important as their mother`s milk. There is nothing more refreshing than to pause from the bustle of the market place for a cool ayran yoghurt drink on a hot day. Make your own by diluting yoghurt with a little water and ice; add a dash of salt and a sprig of parsley.

Salads are served with all meals. The abundance of greenery offers a variety of choices. Watercress, marul, rokka, dandelion, and mustard greens can be mixed to suit everyone`s taste; together with fresh onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and peppers they are a feast. The dressing is inevitably olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, and garlic if desired.

Nettles are cooked like spinach and used to fill bdreks, savoury pastries of thin layers of dough. The fillings vary greatly, including the favourites, white cheese and minced meat, but spinach, eggs, and chicken fillings are delicious too.

Aubergine is the prince of vegetables in North Cyprus and it can be prepared and cooked in forty different ways - all typical of the great respect with which Turkish Cypriots treat vegetables. Generously wrinkled with herbs, used on their own or with meat, cooked in butter as a side dish, cooked in olive oil and served cold, used as a stuffing or to he stuffed, included in salads, these arejust some of the ways vegetables are served. North Cyprus is also famous for its fresh fruits such as melons, cherries, strawberries, grapes, and fresh figs; pears, oranges, bitter lemons, satsumas, and quinces too. They can all be enjoyed at their very best.

Cypriot cuisine has been influenced by different cultures throuhout history. Therefore there isn't any dish, which we would call Cypriot only. However with little variations from their originals Cypriots have developed quite tasty dishes. Each dish has a peculiar taste and cooking and presentation reflects the character of the people of Cyprus. Molhiya, Arab in origin, has developed completely, appealing to Cypriot tasta both in preparation, taste and presentation. Some dishes even vary from region to region in name, preparation and taste. North Cyprus is fascinating and appealing to people who eat well and enjoy eating.

A great variety of vegetable dishes, grills, pastry, fish, soups, kebabs, lahmacun, pides are to name but a few. A big list of mezes, sweets, cakes, eaten either as starters or as afters can be named. In addition to local cuisine Chinese, Italian, French and Indian foods are well represented in various restaurants.

Lentil soup, Tarhana soup, Rice soup, Noodle soup, Vegetable soup, Humus soup, Paça soup, Chicken broth soup, Noddle lentil soup


Humus, Cacık, Tahin, Pickles, Potato salad, Samarella, Lettuce & yogurt salad, Broad bean paste, Fried hellim, Çakızdez, Octopus, Calamary, Gabbar, Tongue of lamb, Brain salad, Pastırma


Rice Pilaf, Bulgur pilaf, Mücendra pilaf, Herse


Şeftali Kebap, Fırın Kebap, Şiş Kebap, Köfte, Molehiya, Bamya, Yalancı Dolma, Et Dolması, Bumbar, Okra, Leeks, Baked beans, Green beans, Kolokas, Cauliflower, Spinach


Tatar Böreği, Pirohu, Hellim cheese pie, Nor cheese pie, Minced meet pie, Spinach pie, Pumpkin pie, Mushroom pie, Olive bread, Hellim bread, Bidda, Sesami bread, Tahinli, Pilavuna


Fırın Katmeri, Samsı, Tel kadayıfı, Ekmek kadayıfı, Şamişi Lokma, Şammali, Bişi, Sucuk, Köfter, Paluze, Golifa, Simit helvası, Erişteli sütlaç


Green walnuts, Bitter orange skins, Bergamot skins, Quince Date, Green figs, Watermelon skins, Pumpkin, Stawberry jam, Orange jam, Plum jam, Grape jam, Glazed peach, Glazed apple, Glazed plum, Glazed pear


Şerbet, Lemonade, Ayran, Zivaniya, Wine, Rakı, Brandy, Beer