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Halloumi is a white, semi-hard Cypriot cheese which, owing to its taste and properties, is recognized as the gem in the crown of Mediterranean cheeses, being at the same time the hallmark of Cypriot cuisine. Cyprus has the exclusive right to its production and name. Halloumi is one of the most well-known export products of Cyprus which is sought after not only in EU member countries or in the United States, but also in Arab countries and the Middle East.
This cheese is made from lamb’s milk or from appropriate mix of lamb’s, cow’s and goat’s milk with the addition of mint. For centuries it has been produced according to the very same recipe, observed strictly even during production in modern, automated production plants.
The composition of Halloumi is maximum 46% of water, at least 43% of fat, 22% of proteins and approximately 3% of salt. It may be stored for a very long time and at the same time it does not lose its properties.
Halloumi can be served in an almost infinite number of ways. It is suitable particularly for grilling and frying, as it does not only melt in higher temperatures, but gains many additional outstanding flavour properties then. It does not crumble when slicing, one can also grate it, serve e.g. with noodles, scrambled eggs and salads.
Ways of serving Halloumi:
- Grilled- Cheese sliced into ca. 2.5 cm slices should be grilled for about 2 minutes on each side until it becomes golden brown. Cheese prepared in such a way can be served on pita bread, with tomato or grilled aubergine arranging layers so as to form a sandwich, though grilled Halloumi tastes equally good without any additives.
- Fried – Fry cheese sliced into ca.2.5 cm slices for about 1 minute on each side until it becomes yellow. Before frying, Halloumi can be dipped in egg mixed with milk and a touch of salt, and then served on bread fried in a similar way. One can also add the olives, herbs, garlic, capers to the pan with fried cheese and fry them all together for about 1-2 min, then, on a plate, add chopped peppers, drizzle with vinaigrette sauce and serve with fresh bread.
- Fresh – Traditionally, Halloumi slices are served with cooled melon or watermelon, one can also cut it into cubes and add to salads prepared with peppers, red onion, black olives, tomatoes, cucumbers with the addition of olive oil. Finger foods made with the use of Halloumi, pickles, anchoives, black and green olives are also very tasty.
Halloumi has this property that regardless of the way of preparation, it always retains its extraordinary taste and texture.
- Anari – It is another delicious Cypriot cheese, made traditionally from whey remaining after the production of Halloumi. It is a light product, having unique flavour, low content of fat – 8% and with the maximum content of water amounting up to 67%. When fresh, it may be eaten without additives. It is an important ingredient of various pastries and desserts in the Cypriot cuisine. It may be found both in natural and salted form. Dried Anari is obtained after salting fresh cheese and drying it on sun or in the oven, it has very hard and brittle consistency and mildly salt flavour. For this reason it is available in sale most often in small cubes or already grated. It is widely used in Cypriot cuisine for topping dishes, e.g. noodles, or for thickening sauces.
- Kefalotyri – The history of this traditional cheese dates back to Byzantine times. It is made from pasteurized sheep’s milk in a very complex manufacturing process. Cheese is subject to very long (approximately 2-3 months) process of maturing at a specific temperature and humidity regime. It contains maximum 38% of water, 48% of fat and 2.5% of salt. It is one of the best, but also most expensive cheeses produced in Cyprus. Kefalotyri has hard consistency and slightly salty taste. It is most commonly consumed after frying on olive oil or added to spaghetti, meat or boiled vegetables. Cheese should be stored at the temperature of approx. 5°C.