Food & Cuisine in North Cyprus

The cuisine of a country reflects its culture and so it is with North Cyprus, which has a cuisine that is as unique as its people. It is a blend of the flavours and tastes from the Middle East, Turkey and the Mediterranean. North Cyprus dishes are very tasty. Special mention must be made of meze, which is an array of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres like salads, vegetables, meats and fish dishes. Meze may be had as an appetizer or as the main course itself.

The people of North Cyprus love to eat out and there are a great number of restaurants in North Cyprus.

This North Cyprus restaurants guide gives a brief rundown on the food and cuisine of North Cyprus, with details on some of the most popular dishes that you may wish to sample. Don't forget to do some shopping while you're on holiday - use our North Cyprus shopping guide for hints and tips on what there is to buy. 

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Food & Cuisine in North Cyprus

A typical Turkish Cypriot meal in the restaurant starts with meze, goes on to kebabs or fish and rounds off with coffee and fruit. Meze is an assortment of hot and cold starters or appetizers like meatballs (kofte), mint yoghurt, hummus dips and cheese made from goat's milk (hellim). Peach kebab (şeftali kebab) is a popular Turkish Cypriot delicacy made with minced meat, spices, and chopped onion wrapped in lamb fat and then grilled. Marinated squid and fish are also local favourites.

Among desserts, the Turkish Cypriot bread pudding called Ekmek Kadayif with cream is a popular delicacy and so is baklava. Lokma is another dessert in which tiny doughnuts are soaked in syrup. Fresh fruits like sweet melons, figs and oranges are also served with every meal. To wash down a meal, there is raki, an aniseed-based alcoholic drink, and brandy sour, a famous cocktail of angostura bitters, lemon juice and brandy. There is also a variety of spirits, wines and beers. The whole meal can be wrapped up with a cup of tea or thick Turkish coffee.

Local Food

Cypriot home food, which is based on traditional Mediterranean recipes, is unique and tasty. Unfortunately, authentic home food is not available in many restaurants in North Cyprus. Traditional Cypriot cuisine makes liberal use of fresh vegetables, fruits, spices and herbs, which may be bought off the supermarket shelves or from the markets and food festivals.

Turkish Cypriot cuisine also offers a wide range of dishes for vegetarians, such as yalanci dolma. This is a dish in which rice, tomatoes and onions are stuffed in vine leaves. Aubergine meals that melt in the mouth, stuffed tomatoes and peppers, fried white cheese folded in pastry (sigara bŏrek), broken wheat balls (bulgur koftesi) and homemade baked beans are some of the other options that vegetarians have. Cypriot cuisine enhances the taste and flavour of its dishes by using a lot of fresh herbs like calamint, fennel, oregano, sage and wild thyme, which grow in the mountains and are ready to be picked in June.

Molhiya is an Arab delicacy that appeals greatly to the Cypriot palate. Yalanchi Dolma (stuffed liar) is another typically Cypriot dish. Dolma is made with a meat filling while in Yalanci Dolma, vine leaves are stuffed with onions, tomatoes and rice instead of meat This is a kind of cheating (Yalanchi) and hence the name! Sarma and Dolma, two typically Cypriot dishes are also found in Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and the erstwhile colonies of the Ottoman Empire.

Layers of mince, aubergines and potatoes topped with cheese and baked in the oven - or Musakka - is a legacy left by the Greeks. Sish Kebab, a dish in which lamb's meat is marinated, skewered and grilled over charcoal and Doner Kebab, which means "spinning kebab", are two other dishes popular in North Cyprus.

Apart from all this exotic food, there are many restaurants in North Cyprus that serve Chinese, French, Italian and Indian food.