Ιf you happen to find yourself in a Cypriot home for dinner or lunch, the first thing you’ll notice on the table is the salad. It is an integral part of the meal, as is bread and yogurt which are a must. If it is a weekday and lunch time, you will most probably be served some kind of cooked pulse, along with canned or salted fish, the most popular being salted sardines, tuna (a salad mixed with parsley and finely chopped spring onion, with olive oil and lemon) as well as salted herring.
To follow, you may find a ragout of vegetables with meat –beans, okra, peas, spinach, all cooked pretty much in the same way: in a casserole drowned in tomato sauce.
Of course, if you’re lucky, you may come across stuffed leaves, such as vine leaves, which are usually filled with minced meat and rice (in Greece they are usually made without minced meat), as well as stuffed vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers).
Meat balls and Avgolemoni (chicken soup prepared with egg and lemon juice) are set meals for the Cypriot family (the soup is mostly served in winter of course, because in summer, chicken broth is used to cook spaghetti).
The Cypriot “table” varies on a Sunday. More complex and time consuming dishes appear such as pasta in the oven (pastitsio) or beef cooked in wine, or lamb in the oven, these being more “official” dishes. But if the family has invited guests, the man of the house usually does most of the cooking. This will either be home-madeSouvla (every house with a yard has its own special barbecue to cook on the grill) or kelftiko (meat cooked in the oven). The man is the one who takes care of grilling the meat or cooking the kleftiko which is not cooked in the kitchen oven but in a traditional, small, specially built oven found in the courtyard that is only lit for this special occasion.
Without a doubt, lamb baked in this type of oven is even more delicious.
If the housewife is a “mastorisa” as they say, a master of the culinary art, she may even treat you to ravioli, made with her own hands. It is probably one of the best home-made dishes in Cyprus and compares favourably to Italian ravioli.