It is in the desserts that the uniqueness of the national cuisine of Cyprus is clearly manifested, combining the Arab, Turkish and Greek culinary traditions.
The Mediterranean island is a true paradise for sweets lovers. Not a single feast is complete here without a variety of pastries, sorbets, ice cream or aromatic jelly, and pastry shops are found in cities and villages of the country almost as often as taverns and pharmacies. What traditional sweets are worth trying in Cyprus?
Authentic Cyprus marshmallow pastelles (pastelaki) has nothing to do with our usual apple-based dessert. The national sweet on the island is made from carob. The resulting syrup is cooled, mixed with roasted nuts and cut into thin slices.
Kozinaki-like golden pastels are the perfect souvenir for € 1-5.
Turkish delight (Λουκούμι)
Soft Turkish sweets made from sugar, molasses, potato or corn starch, juices and natural additives appeared in Cyprus thanks to the Ottoman rule (1571-1878). But unlike its eastern counterpart, the jelly delicacy produced on the island is less cloying.
A package of the most delicate food, generously sprinkled with powdered sugar melting in your mouth, costs from 2 to 10 €.
For the most delicious and freshest Turkish delight in Cyprus, tourists go to the village of Geroskipou, located 3 km from Paphos. Here, delicious sweetness is prepared in a traditional way, avoiding preservatives and artificial colors.
The debate about the origin of baklava has not subsided for centuries. The sons of the Janissaries claim that the recipe for juicy pastries was born in Turkey. The Greeks own the laurels of the creators of the sweet. Cypriots do not enter into culinary debates. The inhabitants of the island simply enjoy the puff pastries soaked in syrup and stuffed with nuts, which are firmly established in the country’s national cuisine.
The price for a box of baklava in shops in Cyprus starts at 3.5 €.
The famous sweet pastries of Cyprus are most reminiscent of small donuts. Golden balls made from yeast dough appeared on the tables of the inhabitants of the island thanks to Turkish culinary specialists.
The airy dish is traditionally deep-fried, poured abundantly with honey syrup before serving and sprinkled with cinnamon, sesame seeds or grated nuts. And to make lucumades even tastier, many pastry chefs fill them with chocolate, apples or soft cheese.
Chocolate in Cyprus is not as popular as the traditional sweets of the island. The assortment of local shops will hardly surprise you with a wealth of choice. If you are a true connoisseur of this delicacy, head to the village of Platres, hidden among the slopes of the Troodes mountain range. Here, in the confectionery workshop of the Adams family, you can not only buy fragrant handmade sweets, but also feel like a real chocolatier by taking part in a 2-hour master class.
The average price of a 200 gram tile is 4 €.
At the end of December, when preparations for Christmas and New Year begin, the smell of cinnamon, cloves and oranges fills the Cypriot homes. A breathtaking aroma exudes a nut-honey melomakarona cookie.
In the country, they believe that this oval soft pastry symbolizes well-being and brings good luck to the family, therefore, the most delicate sweetness is an indispensable element of every festive table.
Glyko tu kutalyu (Γλυκό του κουταλιού)
A Christmas meal in Cyprus cannot be imagined without local jam, the name of which translates as “sweetness in a spoon”. To prepare this original dish, not only berries, fruits or walnuts are used, but also vegetables (carrots, eggplants, tomatoes, pumpkin and even garlic).
Glyko tu kutalya is served on a small spoon, in a duet with a cup of coffee or with a glass of still cold water.
Although the national dessert of Cyprus does not look very appetizing, its taste makes the hearts of sweet lovers sink. Aromatic and healthy paluze is a grape juice jelly brewed with flour, white lime, vanilla, rose water or carob syrup.
The thickened dish is used as an independent dish or is prepared on the basis of traditional suzukos.
Suzukos (Σουτζούκ λουκούμ)
A popular Cypriot sweetness – delicious suzukos (or djukdzhuk) – is almonds or walnuts strung on cotton thread, dressed in a “fur coat” of frozen grape juice flavored with a good portion of honey. Appetizing sausages, so similar to the familiar to many Caucasian churchkhela, are prepared exclusively by hand.
You can taste the most exotic varieties of suzukos and take part in the production of the national Cypriot dessert at the annual September festival “Paluse”, which takes place in the village of Vasa.
Enjoy sweets and not worry about the beauty of your figure? This is possible if you choose kidonopasto as a dessert – an unusual marmalade, the recipe for which came to the cuisine of Cyprus from mainland Greece.
The food is prepared only from natural ingredients: fresh quince and lemon juice. Before serving, the treat is sprinkled with powdered sugar and decorated with a stick of aromatic cinnamon.
The list of sweets on the sunny island is not limited to the above dishes. Talking about the country’s popular desserts, one cannot fail to mention the Curabides almond biscuits (Κουραμπιέδες), Tulumba buns (Τουλούμπα), Shamali semolina cake (Σάμαλι), the Easter cake Gallaunu (ςΦΚναοα Γαλακτομπούρεκο) – a pie stuffed with custard.
Tip: Traditional sweets in Cyprus are best bought in supermarkets or specialized stores. Souvenir shops and street stalls should be bypassed – in such places you can buy products that have expired.