The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has a wonderful and diverse food culture that is influenced by its unique geographical location and rich historical background. TRNC cuisine combines the delicious flavors of Turkish, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisines, while also offering its own special touches and traditional dishes. Let’s explore some of the exciting aspects of TRNC’s food culture!
Meze is a wonderful way to enjoy a meal in TRNC. It offers a delightful selection of small dishes that are served as appetizers or side dishes. Meze can include a variety of delicious items such as hummus, tzatziki, dolma (stuffed grape leaves), sigara börek (fried cheese rolls), grilled halloumi cheese, and various refreshing salads. It is always a pleasure to accompany meze with rakı, a delightful anise-flavored alcoholic beverage.
Kebabs are a must-try in TRNC cuisine. Adana kebab, which is named after the beautiful city of Adana in Turkey, is especially renowned. It consists of minced lamb or beef mixed with flavorful spices, then grilled on skewers. Other delicious kebabs to try are lamb shish kebab, chicken kebab, and köfte (meatballs).
As an island nation, TRNC has a wonderful tradition of seafood dishes. You can find a wide variety of fresh fish and seafood that are often prepared in simple yet incredibly delicious ways, like grilling or pan-frying with olive oil, lemon, and herbs. Some popular seafood options include sea bass, sea bream, octopus, and calamari. Enjoy the delightful flavors of the sea!
Pide is a delightful traditional Turkish and Cypriot flatbread that is similar to pizza. It is typically adorned with a delightful medley of ingredients such as minced meat, cheese, vegetables, and herbs. Pide is a popular and convenient fast food choice in TRNC and is often savored alongside a refreshing glass of ayran, a traditional and creamy yogurt-based beverage.
Sweets and Desserts
Traditional Cypriot Dishes
TRNC offers a delightful selection of desserts and sweet treats. One of the most famous desserts is künefe, a delectable combination of shredded pastry soaked in sweet syrup and layered with melted cheese. You can also indulge in other popular sweets like baklava, lokma (deep-fried dough balls soaked in syrup), and Turkish delight.
TRNC also has its own mouth-watering traditional dishes that are truly unique. Some examples include kleftiko (slow-cooked lamb or goat), sheftalia (minced meat and onion wrapped in caul fat and grilled), and çakıstes (a dish made with bulgur wheat and various vegetables).
Olive oil is a key player in TRNC cuisine! This region is famous for its top-notch olive oil production, and it’s widely used to add delicious flavors to cooking and dress salads. The local olives and olive oil are frequently incorporated into traditional dishes, giving them a unique taste and making the cuisine even more delightful.
TRNC is blessed with a wonderful climate for growing citrus fruits. You’ll find an abundance of oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. Their fresh juice and zest are often used to add a burst of flavor to various dishes and baked goods. And of course, you can enjoy these citrus fruits as refreshing beverages or as ingredients in traditional desserts and jams.
Stuffed vegetables are a delightful and cherished aspect of TRNC cuisine. Vibrant peppers, juicy tomatoes, tender zucchini, and flavorful eggplants are carefully hollowed out and generously filled with a delectable combination of rice, savory minced meat, aromatic herbs, and tantalizing spices. These mouthwatering and satisfying dishes are commonly accompanied by creamy yogurt or a luscious tomato-based sauce.
TRNC offers a delightful traditional breakfast spread. Known as “kahvaltı,” this breakfast usually includes a variety of items such as fresh bread, olives, cheese (including the famous local halloumi cheese), sucuk (Turkish sausage), eggs, honey, jams, and a selection of herbal teas. It’s a relaxed and enjoyable way to begin the day.
I wanted to mention that TRNC cuisine actually has a lot in common with Turkish cuisine because of the historical and cultural ties between the two. But, it’s also important to know that TRNC has its very own unique culinary identity that’s shaped by local ingredients and regional differences.