It is in the desserts that the uniqueness of the national cuisine of Cyprus, which combines Arab, Turkish and Greek culinary traditions, is clearly seen.
The Mediterranean island is a real paradise for lovers of sweets. None of the feasts can be served here without a variety of baked goods, sherbettes, ice cream or fragrant jelly, and confectionery shops are found in the cities and villages of the country almost as often as taverns and pharmacies. What traditional sweets is worth tasting in Cyprus?
The authentic Cypriot pastelli (pastelaki) has nothing to do with our usual apple-based dessert. The national sweetness on the island is made of carob tree fruits. The resulting syrup is cooled, mixed with roasted nuts and cut into thin plates.
Golden tiles of pastelli reminiscent of goats are the perfect souvenir to buy for 1-5 €.
Soft Turkish sweets made of sugar, molasses, potatoes or corn starch, juices and natural additives appeared in Cyprus thanks to the Ottoman rule (1571-1878). But unlike its eastern brother, the jelly dainty produced on the island is less luscious.
Packaging of the most delicate delicacy, generously sprinkled with sugar powder melting in the mouth, costs from 2 to 10 €.
Behind the most delicious and fresh onions in Cyprus, tourists go to the village of Geroskipou, located 3 km from Paphos. Here, delicious sweets are prepared in a traditional way, avoiding preservatives and artificial dyes.
The argument about the origin of the cormorant hasn’t subsided for centuries. Sons of Yanichars claim that the recipe for juicy baking was born in Turkey. The Greeks are appropriating the laurels of the creators of sweets for themselves. Cypriots, on the other hand, do not engage in culinary debates. The island’s inhabitants simply enjoy syrup-soaked and stuffed with puffed nuts and puff cakes, firmly rooted in the national cuisine of the country.
The price of a box of cormorants in the shops of Cyprus starts from 3,5 €.
The famous sweet Cyprus bakery is most reminiscent of small doughnuts. Golden balls made of yeast dough appeared on the tables of the island’s inhabitants thanks to Turkish cooks.
The airy meal is traditionally fried in deep fryer, before serving it is abundantly filled with honey syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon, sesame or grated nuts. And to make the lucumades even more delicious, many pastry chefs fill them with chocolate, apples or soft cheese.
Chocolate in Cyprus is not as popular as traditional island sweets. The assortment of local shops is unlikely to surprise with a wealth of choice. If you are a true connoisseur of this delicacy, head to Platres, a village hidden among the slopes of the Troodes Mountains. Here, in the Adams family pastry shop, you can not only buy handmade fragrant sweets, but also feel like a real chocolatier by taking part in a 2-hour master class.
The average price of 200 gram tiles is 4 €.
At the end of December, when the time of preparation for Christmas and New Year begins, the Cypriot house fills the smell of cinnamon, carnations and oranges. The breathtaking aroma exudes nut and honey cookies of melomacaron.
The country believes that this oval soft baking symbolizes well-being and brings good luck to the family, so the tender sweetness – an essential element of every festive table.
Glyco that kutalya (Γλυκό του κουταλιού)
A Christmas meal in Cyprus cannot be imagined without local jam, the name of which translates as “sweetness in a spoon”. Not only are berries, fruits or walnuts used to make this original meal, but also vegetables (carrots, aubergines, tomatoes, pumpkin and even garlic).
The glyco is served on a small spoon, in a duet with a cup of coffee or a glass of non-carbonated cold water.
Although the Cypriot national dessert doesn’t look very appetizing, its taste makes the hearts of the sweets fans freeze. The fragrant and healthy deck is a grape juice jelly cooked with flour, white lime, vanilla, rose water or carob syrup.
The thickened meal is used as a separate dish or used as a basis for traditional suzukos.
Suzukos (Σουτζούκ λουκούμ)
The popular sweetness of Cyprus – the tidbit suzukos (or jukjuk) – is an almond or walnut strung on a cotton thread, dressed in a “fur coat” of frozen grape juice, seasoned with a good portion of honey. Yummy sausages, so similar to the familiar to many Caucasian churchhela, are cooked exclusively by hand.
Taste the most exotic suzukos and take part in the production of national Cypriot desserts at the annual September festival “Paluse”, which takes place in the village of Vasa.
Enjoy the sweets and not worry about the beauty of your figure? This is possible if you choose kidopasto as a dessert – an unusual marmalade, a recipe which came to the kitchen of Cyprus from mainland Greece.
Only natural ingredients are used for cooking: fresh quince and lemon juice. Before serving, the delicacy is sprinkled with powdered sugar and decorated with a stick of aromatic cinnamon.
The list of sweets of the sunny island is not limited to the above mentioned dishes. Telling about the popular desserts of the country, it is necessary to mention almond biscuits Kurabides (Κουραμπιέδες), Tulumba buns (Τουλούμπα), a cupcake of Shamali grits (Σάμαλι), Easter kulich Flaunu (Φλαούνες), stuffed with honey and pistachios rolls of Kateifi (Κανταΐφι) and Galaktobureko (Γαλακτομπούρεκο) – a pie filled with custard.
Tip: Traditional sweets in Cyprus are best bought in supermarkets or specialty shops. Souvenir shops and street stalls should be avoided, where you can buy expired products.