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Cyprus Gardener Recipes

Cypriot cuisine has been shaped by the island's climate, geography and history and evolved to encompass both Greek and Turkish cuisine. The cuisine has further been influenced by neighbouring Middle Eastern and Arabic countries and by past occupations by Luisignan Franks (French), Venetians (Italian) and the British. The following recipes contain many traditional Cypriot recipes which are used when produce is in season. 

List of Recipes

1.   Stuffed Marrow Flowers
2.   Grape Must Roll
3.   Cypriot Pitted Black Olive Bread
4.   Irresistible Cypriot Lemon Cake
5.   Spinach Wheels   
6.   Almond and Apricot Muffins
7.   Tahini
8.   Squash Pastries (Borek or Kolokotes)
9.   Okra in Tomato Sauce (Bumya or Bamies)
10. Black Eyed Beans with Spinach and with or without Tomato Sauce
11. Molohiya Vegetable Stew
12. Prickly Pear Sorbet
13. Kolokasi with Tomato  
14. Mediterranean Burger
15. Lemonade Syrup
16. Dolma or stuffed vine leaves with minced meat filling
17. Kofte or Meatballs
18. Lokma or Crisp Doughnut's with Honey
19. Trahana or cracked wheat soup

(1) Stuffed Marrow Flowers

An excellent recipe, to serve four, and using marrow flowers that continue to grow from September onwards but have little chance of setting fruit.

Ingredients are: about 35 to 40 marrow flowers depending on their size, 150g of rice, one small onion, two medium sized tomatoes, salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 300ml of water and fresh mint leaves washed and finely chopped.

1. Remove the flower stems and pistils and gently wash and dry the flowers.
2. Chop the tomatoes and onion finely.
3. Mix together the rice, chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, chopped mint and seasoning.
4. Carefully stuff the flowers with a teaspoon until 3/4 full and fold the petals in.
5. Gently place the stuffed flowers into a small saucepan and add the water and olive oil.
6. Gently heat, bring to the boil and then leave on a low heat for about 20 minutes until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked.
7. Your stuffed marrow flowers can be enjoyed hot or cold with a fresh salad.  

(2) Grape Must Roll (Sucuk or Soutzoukos) 

A traditional Cypriot sweet, made in villages for generations usually in August or September. The process of making the sweet is in two parts. Firstly, the making the grape jelly and secondly the dipping of shelled walnuts or almonds, which have been threaded through a string to about one metre after being left in water to soften, into the jelly mixture. 

The grape must is made by gently heating pressed grape juice in a large cauldron whilst adding slaked lime or calcium hydroxide. The addition of the lime acts to release any impurities in the must to the surface where they can be skimmed off. An alternative, if you cannot locate lime, is the addition of lager which has the same affect. Once cleansed, the must is left to cool and flour is added whilst gently heating and continually stirring. The mixture will gradually thicken and is ready for dipping the stringed nuts into the mixture.

The strings are left to dry and the process is repeated for the next 3-4 days, dipping in the must and allowing to dry or until the thickness desired is obtained. The strings are hung to dry for a further 4 days in an airy but insect free environment, after which the grape must roll is ready to slice and eat. Cypriots use the sweet as to accompany the traditional distilled drink zivaniye or zivania. Keep in the fridge for a short period or for longer storage freeze.

(3) Cypriot Pitted Black Olive Bread

A lovely recipe for using some of your stored black olives and olive oil.  The ingredients are: 500g of bread flour; 2 Tbl of dry yeast; 2 Tbl of white sugar; 1 tsp of salt; one cup of pitted black olives; 3 Tbl of olive oil and 200ml of lukewarm water.(150ml to reactivate the yeast and 50ml to form the dough)

(1) Reactivate 15g of dried yeast by mixing with 150ml of warm water (1 part boiling and 2 parts cold), dissolving 1 tsp of sugar in  the water and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes.
(2) In a large bowl, mix the flour, the activated dried yeast, sugar, salt, black olives, olive oil and warm water.
(3) Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 7-10 minutes until smooth and pliable.

(4) Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes until the dough doubles in size.
(5)   Knead again for 7 to 10 minutes.
(6)   Recover and leave again in a warm place for 30 minutes to double in size.
(7)   Form into a round on a floured surface and place in a bowl for about 30 minutes, cover with a towel       and allow the dough to again double in size.
(8)   Place a bowl of water in the oven, which will keep the bread moist, and pre-heat to 220c.
(9)   Place the rounded dough on a baking tray which has been oiled and dusted with flour.
(10) Bake at 220c for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 180c and bake for a further 30 minutes.

Enjoy on its own, with a bowl of fresh salad or pasta.

(4) Irresistible Cypriot Lemon Cake

A lovely recipe for using freshly picked lemons which is finished by pouring a lemon syrup over the cake to give it an even more lemony flavour.

The ingredients are 150g of margarine; 225g of brown sugar; the grated rind and juice of two medium sized lemons; 2 small eggs and 150g of wholemeal self-raising flour.

(1) Heat the margarine and add only 175g of sugar and stir until the margarine has fully melted.
(2) Take off the heat and stir in the lemon rind.
(3) Whisk the eggs and add to the sugar mixture.
(4) Fold in the flour and turn into a greased and floured 20cm tin.
(5) Bake at 180c for about 30 minutes or until just firm to touch.
(6) Warm the remaining 50g of sugar with the lemon juice.
(7) Prick the cake all over, whilst still warm, with a fork and spoon the syrup over the cake.
(8) Leave to cool in the tin and cut into squares and enjoy. 

(5) Spinach Wheels

A recipe to use for freshly picked spinach which, with a fresh salad, is enough to serve four.

Ingredients: 450g of potatoes. 300g of spinach. 1 grated onion, 2 crushed and finely chopped garlic cloves, 60ml of tomato puree, 160g of grated mature cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, 100g of plain flour and 1 beaten egg.

(1) Boil the potatoes until tender, drain, mash and leave to cool.
(2) Chop spinach and steam for 10 mins.
(3) Place the spinach in a bowl and add the onion, garlic, tomato puree and 80g of cheese. Mix the ingredients well, season to taste and leave to one side.
(4) Mix the flour and mashed potato, add the egg, season and knead together until smooth.
(5) Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to about 25cm by 30cm.
(6) Spread the spinach mixture over the pastry but leave half a centimetre edging.
(7)  Starting with shortest side, roll up the pastry and place the joined side down on your work surface.
(8)  Cut into 8 equal slices and place flat on a lightly greased baking tray.
(9)  Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese and bake at 190c until golden brown.
(10 Serve hot with a fresh salad.

(6) Almond and Apricot Muffins

A recipe for when fresh apricots are harvested in May to June, although dried ones work equally well, which also uses some of stored almonds.

Ingredients: 150g of stoned and chopped apricots; 400g of flour; 200g of sugar; 2 tsp of baking powder; 2 tsp of cinnamon; a little salt; 125g of chopped almonds; 3 eggs and 150g of olive oil.

1. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the apricots, almonds, eggs and olive oil.
3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and mix in the liquid gradually.
4. Divide among muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes, in an oven preheated to 190c, until the tops turn a golden brown.

(7) Tahini

A recipe to use some of your organically grown sesame seeds which is a healthy alternative to peanut butter.

Ingredients: 4 cups of toasted sesame seeds and a quarter to half a cup of olive oil.

(1) Place the sesame seeds in a food processor
(2) Add a quarter of a cup of olive oil
(3) Process until smooth but with a thick consistency, adding more oil if required
(4) Store in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 months

(8) Squash Pastries

A traditional Cypriot pastry which is made during winter using stored squash. Not only very tasty but also nutritious and can be eaten warm or cold.

Ingredients: The stuffing is prepared twenty-four hours before baking, to allow the flavours to mix and allow the cracked wheat to expand in the mix. The stuffing includes - three cups of diced squash, four Tbsp of cracked wheat, three Tbsp of olive oil, two Tbsp of sugar, one cup of sultanas, one tsp of cinnamon, half a tsp of salt and pepper.

Ingredients: For the dough are four cups of flour, one Tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice, one tsp of salt, half a cup of olive oil and half a cup of water.

(1)   As mentioned above prepare the stuffing 24 hours before baking
(2)   The next day, prepare the dough by placing the flour in a bowl and mix in the salt
(3)   Add the olive oil and hand mix until the oil is thoroughly absorbed
(4)   Gradually add the water and lemon juice and knead until the dough feels firm
(5)   Cover the bowl and leave the dough, in a warm place, to rest for 40 minutes
(6)   Re-knead your dough for about five minutes
(7)   Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces and make each into a ball
(8)   Roll each ball into a round shape which is 15cm in diameter and about 3mm thick 
(9)   Brush the edges with water and fill the centre with 2 Tbsp of stuffing
(10) Fold in half and seal the edges with a fork
(11) Place on a baking tray and cook in a pre-heated oven at 180c for about 20-25 minutes until brown 

(9) Okra in Tomato Sauce

A great traditional Cypriot recipe for using when you harvest your okra from May onwards which is served hot with some fresh bread.

Ingredients: 500g of okra, a medium sized onion, 3 ripe tomatoes, a quarter cup of olive oil, half a cup of water, 1 Tbsp of tomato paste, 2 cloves of garlic, half a cup of hot water and salt and pepper to taste. 

(1) Wash and then top, tail and split down the side without cutting in half
(2) Chop the onion and garlic finely and fry in the olive oil
(3) Add the okra, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste
(4) Add the hot water and salt and pepper to taste
(5) Bring to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes until tender

(10) Two Cypriot Black Eyed Bean Recipes

Dried black eyed beans have long been a traditional favourite in Cyprus. Try growing your own, information on how is available in the vegetables section. Beans are usually harvested fresh between August and October and are left to dry, in their pods, on the plant for storage. The following two recipes can either be made using fresh or dried beans. The only difference is that the fresh beans will cook a lot quicker.  The beans are  high in protein, with a content of about 25%, but are also an excellent source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C and also contain calcium and folate.

Recipe One Ingredients - 250g of black eyed beans, a bunch of spinach, 1 medium onion, olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

(1) Boil the black eyed beans for 15 minutes
(2) Chop the onion and spinach finely and fry in olive oil
(3) Drain the black eyed beans and add to the spinach and onion mixture
(4) Just cover with water, bring back to the boil and cook over a low heat until the beans are tender
(5)  Add salt and pepper to taste

Serve with an olive oil and lemon juice dressing. Also adding finely chopped tomatoes, cucumber and spring onions before serving.

Recipe Two Ingredients - 250g of black eyed beans, a bunch of spinach, a medium sized onion, 4-5 fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. 

(1) Boil the black eyed beans for about ten minutes and drain
(2) Chop the onion and spinach finely and fry in olive oil until tender
(3) Add the black eyed beans, finely chopped tomatoes and tomato paste
(4) Just cover with water, bring back to the boil and simmer until the beans are tender
(5) Add salt and pepper to taste

Serve hot with fresh bread

(11) Molohiya Vegetable Stew

Molohiya or Tossa Jute is harvested in Cyprus from mid-May to mid-June. It is also dried for winter use. The leaves have a bittery taste, so are not eaten raw, but cooked when they become thick and glutinous like okra. The leaves are rich in vitamin C, iron and calcium. The following harvest can be made using fresh or dried molohiya leaves.

Ingredients - 250g of molohiya, 1 large potato, 1 medium carrot, 1 medium courgette or some squash, 3 large tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 medium onions, olive oil, bunch of coriander, a tsp of cumin and salt and pepper to taste.

1. Peel and chop all vegetables into small chunks, slices or pieces
2. Fry the onion, garlic, coriander in olive oil in the pan
3. Add the rest of the vegetables and cumin
4. Cover with water and add salt and pepper to taste
5. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes

Serve hot with rice.

(12) Prickly Pear Sorbet

Prickly pear (babutsa or papoutsoyska) is a member of the cactus family and is found growing throughout Cyprus. The fruit is ripe and harvested between August and September.  Prickly pear fruits are a good source of dietary fibre, calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C.

The prickly pear must be harvested wearing gardening gloves to protect yourself from the small but very sharp spines. Gloves are also necessary to peel the fruit, start by cutting off both ends , cut a vertical slit down the fruit and peel back the skin to leave the fruit. The fruit can be eaten raw but is an acquired taste as it full of hard seeds.  

To make the sorbet pick 8-10 fruits, peel as mentioned, and using a fruit press extract the juice until you have about two cups. Add half a cup of water to thin the juice and one tablespoon of vodka which is required to keep the sorbet smoother as alcohol does not freeze. Stir in sugar to your own taste. Freeze for 45 minutes, remove, whisk and re-freeze for a further 30 minutes. After the second period of freezing your prickly pear sorbet is ready to serve as an appetiser or dessert. 

(13) Kolokasi with Tomato

Taro is known in Cyprus as Kolokasi or Kolokass. The plant is toxic when raw due to the presence of calcium oxilate which is reduced to safe levels by cooking. 

Ingredients - 450g of kolokasi, 3 sticks of celery, 1 large onion, 3 Tbsp of tomato puree, olive oil and salt and pepper.

(1) Chop the onion and celery
(2) Peel the kolokasi and wash and dry, before cutting into large chunks
(3) Fry the onion until browning and then add the celery and kolokasi and continue frying, stirring                
      occasionally, for about 15 minutes until the kolokasi starts to brown
(4) Dissolve the puree in hot water and add
(5) Cover with water and add salt and pepper to taste
(6) Simmer for about an hour or until the kolokasi is soft

Serve hot with fresh bread

(14) Mediterranean Burger

Burgers get a bad press but they do not have to be junk food full of additives and flavourings and can be made at home to be enjoyed with a fresh salad and a jacket potato or chips.

Ingredients: 350g minced beef; a medium sized onion; a clove of garlic; 30g of hellim; one Tsb of each of chives, basil, mint and oregano; 1 egg; half a tsp of chilli powder; olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. 

(1) Chop finely the onion, garlic, hellim and herbs.
(2) Mix all the ingredients except the egg in a bowl.
(3) Add the egg and mix in thoroughly.
(4) Use your hands to shape into four burgers.
(5) Brush with olive oil and grill for about 5 minutes on each side.

(15) Lemonade Syrup

A recipe to use freshly harvested lemons which makes a refreshing drink full of vitamin C.

Ingredients: two and a half cups of sugar; the finely grated zest of four lemons; a pinch of salt; three cups of lemon juice from about twelve large lemons and a cup of water. 

(1)  Add the sugar, zest and salt to a cup of water and bring to the boil for about five minutes whilst stirring continually until the sugar is fully dissolved.

(2) Allow to cool to room temperature.

(3) Pour the syrup through a strainer into a bowl and stir in the lemon juice.

(4) Pour into a pre-sterilised bottle and close with a tight fitting lid.

(5) Store in a fridge and use within 3 weeks.

(16) Dolmas or Stuffed Vine Leaves with Minced Meat Filling

A traditional Cypriot recipe which is made with vine leaves, from which the stems have been removed, but the dolma filling can also be used to stuff vegetables such as capsicums, tomatoes, onions or cabbage leaves.

The following recipe requires approximately 60 vine leaves; 500g of beef or lamb mince, a medium sized onion; 2 cups of rice; olive oil, a lemon; a small bunch of fresh mint or if unavailable dried; 5-6 tomatoes or a tin of tomatoes; cinnamon; salt and pepper.

1. Wash the freshly picked vine leaves and put into a pot of boiling water for about five minutes and then straight into cold water.

2. Peel and chop the onion finely and chop the tomatoes finely. Place the onions and tomatoes into a bowl and add the mince and rice. Add the juice of a lemon, a little olive oil, finely chopped mint, a pinch of cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste. 

3. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients and add a little water if needed.

4. Place a leaf on a large plate and add about two tablespoons of the mixture and fold the left and right sides over and roll the leaf tightly. Place in an oiled pan and repeat till all the mixture is used. 

5. Cover the top with vine leaves, place a plate on top and a weight (usually a stone) to keep the dolmas submerged and in place.

6. Cover with boiling water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 75 minutes on a low heat.

7. Allow to stand for about 45 minutes and serve with a fresh salad.

(17) Kofte or Meatballs

Delicious walnut sized meatballs are traditionally always part of mezze.

Ingredients: 500g of minced lamb or beef; 750g of finely grated potatoes which after grating are squeezed to extract as much liquid as possible; one onion finely chopped; one medium sized egg; 75g of finely chopped parsley; 2 teaspoons of cinnamon; 2 teaspoons of dried mint and salt and pepper to taste.

1. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

2. Shape into walnut sized balls and either shallow or deep fry in hot oil until golden brown

3. Serve hot or can be served cold with a fresh salad

(18) Lokma or Crisp Doughnut's with Honey

These small golden fried doughnut's are served hot with honey, a sugary syrup or simply dipped in a bowl of sugar. The following recipe will make between 25-35 lokmas.

Ingredients: 250g of plain flour; 6g of dried yeast or half a Tbsp; a pinch of salt; 275ml of warm water; 1 tsp of sugar; vegetable oil for frying; honey or sugar and cinnamon to serve.

1. Sift the plain flour into a bowl and add the salt, dried yeast and sugar.

2. Add the warm water whilst continually stirring until the mixture is smooth. 

3. Cover an allow to rest for an hour, in a warm place, until the mixture has doubled in size.

4. Heat oil until very hot and drop teaspoons of the mixture into the oil. Dip your teaspoon into cold water before each drop to prevent sticking.  Turn them as they are frying and remove when golden brown 

5. Dribble with honey. a sugary syrup or sugar and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon before serving.

(19) Trahana or cracked wheat soup

Trahana or tarhana is a traditional Cypriot winter village soup. The trahana is by made form crushed wheat mixed with goats milk left to sour for eight days, lemon juice and yoghurt. After cooling, the mixture is shaped into cigar shaped biscuits which are sun dried to for preservation. 

The following recipe is enough for 4-6 servings.

Ingredients: a litre of chicken stock, 200g of diced hellim or halloumi, 400g or trahana, a little olive oil for frying, lemon juice to taste and salt and pepper to taste.

1. Soak the trahana in cold water for 45 minutes
2. Drain the trahana and add to the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes
3. Fry the diced hellim
4. Add the hellim to the soup just before serving
5. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.