Gastronomy in North Cyprus

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There is no end to the delicacies of NCY, and each village and season brings unique offerings to locals and visitors alike. Whether you are dining a la carte, in town or in one of the villages dedicated to ecotourism, guests will be served fresh Mediterranean cuisines, some with a Cypriot twist. Take a look at some of the infamous delights and treats you might come across and taste on your next visit. And you will understand gastronomy in North Cyprus has its secret aspects.


Gastronomy in North Cyprus

These unique green olives are manually and onerously cracked using special stones. Olives have long been recognized as a symbol of good living and people tend to live longer and healthier in regions where their miraculous oil is a staple part of the diet. and to be mentioned that olives is a symbol of not only North Cyprus but Turkey’s Gastronomy.

Harvest time usually begins in October, when the early green olive first fruits. And they are gathered either by shaking the branches over sheets spread on the ground around the tree, or by individually picking the olives by hand.


Also known as Kleftiko, this a traditional Turkish recipe in which lamb is marinated in olive oil, garlic, onions and herbs. And slowly cooked in greaseproof paper or foil, keeping all the juices and flavors together.

Also referred to by local as ‘Hirsiz Kebabı’ (Kebab of Thieves), traditionally, lambs or goats in the mountains were stolen from their flock and then cooked for hours in improvised underground ovens sealed with mud, to disguise the smell and smoke, avoiding detection. you should try it once to have a glance of North Cyprus gastronomy.


Gastronomy in North Cyprus

Seftali (shef-ta-lee) is a type of crépinette, a sausage without skin, that uses caul fat, or omentum, the membrane that surrounds the stomach of a lamb, to wrap the ingredients together.

The filling is made from lamb shoulder or leg, mixed with finely chopped onion and parsley, seasoned with salt and pepper. Rolled into small balls, the filling is wrapped in the caul fat and then placed on skewers and grilled or charcoaled until golden brown. By the time it is cooked and served, the outer layer of fat is melted away and reduced to a thin golden-brown layer.

Seftali is commonly served in Cypriot pitta bread with salad, and sometimes topped with Cacik, a Turkish appetiser or sauce made from yogurt, cucumber, olive oil and mint.


Colocasia esculenta is a perennial, tropical plant primarily grown as a root vegetable for its edible, starchy corm. The vegetables cultivated in NCY are much larger than in other countries. Generally, Kolokas is eaten like a potato, as it tastes quite similar when cooked but with a nutty flavor.

Take care when handle Kolokas, as the skin and roots are poisonous. Before, they have been cooked and cannot be eaten raw under any circumstances. It is surely the confusing part of gastronomy of North Cyprus.

Often used as a substitute for potato, it is boiled in a tomato sauce or cooked with meat, beans and chickpeas. However overseas it is common to roast, bake, mash or chip them. Many different countries around the world use Kolokas in different ways.


Gastronomy in North Cyprus

Meet raki (Ra-Kuh), the anise-flavored drink Turkish Cypriots otherwise refer to as “Lion’s Milk”. And it is known as an important part of all Turkey’s gastronomy or actually drinks.

Although no one knows the age of it, it is certain that the history of raki does not go as far back as wine or beer. It’s for celebrating any occasion or alternatively muting the pain of a job loss or the end of a relationship. Raki is made from different fruits in different regions, but grapes, figs and plums are the main ones.

The best way to drink raki is with flat cylindrical glasses and cold. One can drink it with water, straight (sek), with soda or mineral water. As it is quite potent, usually 40% – 50% alcohol levels, it is usually diluted with water. Due to the aniseed, raki changes colour and becomes a milky white when water is added. A glass of pure water to clean the palette allows drinkers to better enjoy the distinct pleasant taste.


Fruit preserves, generally served in little plates or mini forks, are an inherent part of Cypriot culture. Almost all fruits, nuts and even vegetables can be made into a preserve. This part of gastronomy shows Turkish people hospitality.

Ceviz Macun is made with unripe walnuts when they are green and tender. Notably, around the end of Spring or early summer, when the inner shell is still soft. The procedure for making this speciality a bit labour intensive, lasting a week from branch to table.


By grinding the black carob pods into powder, it is then boiled in water into a reduction. Then, a dark black molasses is produced, namely harnup pekmez (carob molasses). Whereas Carob syrup can be found in most health food stores globally, the Turkish pekmez can be found in supermarkets.

Pekmez is used in soups and stews, spread on bread, poured over ice cream. Also mixed with yoghurt or trickled over pastry and fruit. At traditional restaurants, you will find mouth-watering desserts made of pekmez, such as gullurikya.

In villages such as Tatlisu and Ozankoy which hold annual Carob Festivals, a sweet fermented drink is also brewed with pekmez, drank ice cold. Cypriots believe that a teaspoon a day of pekmez keep colds and flu away! You can bear in mind that gastronomy not just acts as food but also has medical use.

Brandy Sour

Gastronomy in North Cyprus

A mixture of brandy and cordial made from the most organic lemons of the Güzelyurt region. Brandy Sour is a local favorite gastronomy. An exclusively Cypriot concoction. Locals love their Brandy Sour which has come to be regarded as something of a national cocktail.

The cocktail is made with Cypriot brandy which is milder than Cognac or Armagnac, lemons fresh or cordial, Angostura bitters, soda water and ice.

Bitter lemons are used locally to produce a bitter-sweet lemon cordial. Which forms the sour and bitter base for the Brandy Sour cocktail. The same lemons that were used by British author Lawrence Durrell, for the title for his autobiographical novel Bitter Lemons of Cyprus, written next to Bellapais Abbey in the 1950’s.


You can also check our other post about Education in North Cyprus



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