Just because you’ve opted for a self-catering holiday doesn’t mean you have to forgo the best cuisine from your destination. To make sure you experience the real taste of Cyprus while in your holiday rental, we’ve put together a simple recipe for you to try in your villa’s kitchen…
Tasty Cypriot Cuisine
Taking the best parts of Greek food – with a little extra Middle-Eastern spice sprinkled in – Cypriot cuisine is well known for the quality of its ingredients and the variety of the meze (literally ‘mixture’). Like tapas, the meze refers to a platter of small plates with a flavoursome range of different foods. Typical meze plates include things like tahini, taramasalata or hummus.
Cypriot Pork Souvlaki
Take advantage of your time on the island and savour the flavours of Cyprus from your self-catering villa by cooking a local favourite. Pork souvlaki is a staple food across the island and is as delicious as it is easy to whip up. Similar to Greek Souvlaki, but with larger pieces of meat cooked over a longer period, souvla is most commonly made with pork, or chicken. The dish works well with lamb, too.
Most villages have souvla shops to try, but what better way to enjoy it than by trying to barbecue it yourself on your villa terrace? And when you’ve done it once, you can do it back home! Since this is a straightforward barbecue recipe, cooking is a social process as well. So enjoy a chilled glass of Cypriot wine and chat away to your guests or family while you tend to the meat and the delicious aromas drift through the air. As long as you don’t forget to turn the skewers!
Ingredients for Pork Souvla
2 1/2 lbs of pork shoulder
1 teaspoon of Greek oregano
2 tablespoons red wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
6 pitta breads
The first thing to do when preparing souvla is to cut the pork into cubes of roughly 2.5cm. When you’ve done this, marinade the meat by popping the pork in a bowl with the red wine, olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. Greek oregano, known as rigani, is the best choice, but typical oregano works well, too. Resist the temptation to use too much olive oil. Although olive oil is a staple ingredient in this part of the world, Cypriot cooking is known for its restrained use of the ingredient. Leave the mixture for at least three to four hours, or ideally overnight.
The next step is to skewer your meat. If you’re using wooden skewers, make sure they’re soaked so that they don’t catch fire while you’re cooking. Depending on the length of the skewers, try to have around six pieces of pork on each one. Now it’s time to get cooking.
Place the skewers on a charcoal grill and start to brown them. Cypriot souvla differs from Greek souvlaki by being cooked for longer and at a longer distance from the heat, so once the meat has been browned all over, raise the skewers higher above the grill and cook them for 90 minutes to two hours, turning regularly. If you have a traditional Cypriot rotisserie, then perfect. If not, just raise the skewers from the grill using bricks or stone blocks.
How to serve
Once you’ve cooked the pork and it looks appropriately mouth-watering, it’s ready to serve. Thanks to the delicious flavours, you don’t need to add much to complement this succulent dish. Just squeeze some lemon wedges over the meat, put the pork in some pitta bread, add a little tahini and tuck in! Kalí óreksi!
By Imogen Bishop, a part time travel writer, part time restaurant critic, and full time mum. She has an affinity for Mediterranean cuisine and can usually be found in the kitchen with a bottle of olive oil in hand.