One of the first things we recommend you do on your arrival to North Cyprus is go out and eat!!
There can be nothing quite as nice as settling down with a beautiful sunset and having a meal of Turkish Cypriot Meze with a glass of chilled wine or ice cold beer. There are so many tastes and ingredients to try it is a whole meal in itself and hours can be spent picking and choosing from a never ending supply of small plates of wonderful dishes.
Meze basically means appetisers or starters and there are many to try. Meze are served in various forms and variations all over the Middle East and North Cyprus has its own unique variations.
Meze come in hot and cold forms and can be a range of meat, fish and vegetable dishes. Don’t worry if they come in 4 or 5 dishes at a time, they will keep on coming so your table will always be full! You will experience a huge mix of local produce, which means everything is fresh to your table.
There are some very popular and common mezes such as Cacık – (pro. Jajuk) – this is a really cleansing dish of fresh plain yoghurt made from sheep’s milk, finely chopped cucumber, mint and lemon juice.
Chakistes – are local crushed green olives served dressed in olive oil, a little crushed garlic, coriander and lemon juice.
Stuffed meze such as Dolma and Sarma – leaves and flowers from various plants are used, such as vine, courgette and pumpkin, as well as peppers and are then stuffed and cooked with meats, rice, tomatoes, herbs, spices and fruits.
Beans are another favourite – Fasülye – Many different types of beans are eaten such as black eyed beans, green beans, butter beans and long green beans cooked in stock with pieces of chicken and tomato. They are served both hot and cold and are lovely with fresh yoghurt.
Hellim – (or Halloumi!) – everyone must try this! This is a salted or unsalted sheep’s or goats cheese served sliced and grilled or fried. It has a unique taste and when grilled is crispy and chewy with a creamy taste.
Humus is a dip made from blended chickpeas and tahini paste with various spices to add to its flavour which is quite sharp but delicious.
Köfte – are meatballs in various forms made with minced meat, onion and herbs all mixed together and either fried, baked or grilled. Bulgur köfte for example is bulgar wheat used as the outer coating for the meatball and deep fried to make a crisp coating.
We think the above will give you a general idea about Turkish Cypriot meze. There are so many to choose from we could not possibly list them all there, but such delights as cracked almonds on ice, salted fish, fresh beetroot, dried meats and other vegetable dishes, should all be tried!
The Cypriot culture means that meals are an important part of a social gathering and you will find most local restaurants will all serve meze as a start to a bigger meal. Eat as much or as a little as you like, take your time over it, just make sure you try it!!