If civilization truly starts on the table, then Cyprus is among the most civilized countries of the Mediterranean. The Cypriots instinctively know what is important to good living so eating and drinking well are always high on their agenda. Although international cuisine is widely available in Cyprus, the tavernas and best restaurants delight in serving classic Cypriot dishes that have been enjoyed over the centuries.
Like everything in Cyprus, religion is split. The northerners are mostly Muslim and the southerners are Greek Orthodox. This religious split brings about cultural differences and food, too, reflects the divide. In the north you will find more Turkish cooking, while in the south the food will be of Greek origin. However, wherever you are in Cyprus, you will come across some duplicate south eastern Mediterranean dishes, such as Kleftiko (baked lamb) and mezes (dip appetizers).
As with most typical Mediterranean food, recipes are based on locally grown produce, namely root vegetables, citrus fruits, fresh fish, vine leaves, cheese, olives, aromatic spices and fresh herbs such as coriander.
Sweets and desserts have always been an important and distinctive part of the Cipriots' menu. A favorite in South Cyprus is Daktyla, lady fingers filled with ground almonds and cinnamon sugar, a traditional sweet served during Sykoses (a ten day carnival preceding Lent) and Pellomaskes, holiday of the Mad Masks (similar to our Halloween).
Don't confuse these delectable sweets with the Greek Griechisches Fingerbrot, also known as Daktyla or "Greek Finger Bread", small loaves of bread topped with sesame seeds.
7-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup oil
1 cup water (approximately)
3 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
1/4 cup blossom water
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and oil. Slowly add enough water to make a soft dough (use more than the amount called for if necessary). Knead well. Cover and let dough rest for 1 to 2 hours.
Roll out dough on floured surface and cut dough into squares. Mixed chopped almonds with a bit of cinnamon. Place a spoonful of almonds onto each square of dough. Roll up into small cylinder shapes, sealing edges with a fork. Deep fry in hot oil. Drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, boil 3 cups water with 2 cups sugar, 1 cup honey 1/4 cup blossom water and lemon peel for 5 minutes. Quickly dip cooled daktyla into hot syrup.
Recipe courtesy of Mary's Place.