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I do love a cooking challenge, and the recent one set me by Asda was to create an exciting meal at home. As always – challenge accepted!
I thought it was about time I showcased the Greek Cypriot side of me on my blog, and so, I’m sharing with you today how to prepare a fabulous Greek-Cypriot Meze at home! I shopped at Asda for most of the components that I needed for this meal which is enough to feed 6 people – with leftovers too. The only thing I couldn’t buy was vine leaves – but these are quite a specialist ingredient, and my dad bought them from a Greek deli for me.
I should also tell you what a meze is – the easiest way to describe it is a meal comprising of lots of different dishes – dips, salads, hot, cold, meat, fish, vegetarian – served over several courses. Think of it a bit like tapas!
If you didn’t know this about me already – I’m half Greek-Cypriot (on my Dad’s side) so you can rest assured that my recipes and methods are authentic! I learned by watching him and my Yiayia (Greek for Grandmother) cook traditional Cypriot dishes, and when I cook Cypriot food at home it’s all from memory – I don’t think I have many recipes actually written down. I don’t know measurements of things, or how long to cook things for – I just know!
However, for blogging purposes, I had hubby by my side whilst I prepared this Greek-Cypriot meze, writing down how much of things I used and how I prepared everything!
Before any preparation and cooking gets underway though, I had to go out and shop! So we drove into town to the nearest Asda to buy all the ingredients. I was armed with a list of things that I needed and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to buy things like tahini (a sesame paste) and even Cypriot sesame breadsticks! We also picked up a few other bits and bobs that we needed, as well as some garden toys that were really cheap and I just HAD to have them for my niece!
Asda’s Price Guarantee promises that if they’re not 10% cheaper on a comparable grocery shop, they will give you back the difference! The next day, I put my receipt details into the Asda Price Guarantee website and learned that I’d saved £3.78 compared to where I normally shop. This wasn’t quite 10% according to the website, and so I will be sent a voucher for 38p to use on my next shop. A saving is a saving, and with rising food costs these days, it all helps the purse strings doesn’t it?
With the shopping done, it’s time to tell you how to prepare a Greek-Cypriot meze at home!
Traditionally, meze is served in stages, starting with cold dishes like dips and olives, followed by hot dishes like grilled halloumi and calamari. There might be a fish course with a whole charcoal-grilled fish, followed by meats like souvlakia (kebabs) with a village salad. You’d finish off (if there is room!) with some fruit. It would be eaten over a few hours with family and friends and is a great social meal as you’re all sharing from the plates of food.
A meze can be as small or as big as you like, so the first thing you want to do when preparing a meze at home is decide on the menu!
Here is the menu for my Greek-Cypriot Meze…dishes with an asterisk (*) are the ones I prepared from scratch. If you’re not familiar with a meze you’re probably thinking wow, that’s a lot of food! But, it’s all small dishes of most of the things that everyone shares ^_^
I’ve decided to share the recipes in separate posts, just click the links below to be taken to them and learn how to make some of my favourite Greek-Cypriot dishes.
Greek Cypriot Meze Menu for 6
Sesame Bread Sticks
|Butter Beans in Tomato Sauce|
Cypriot Potato Salad*
Cypriot Village Salad*
- Gather a range of different plates, bowls and dishes to serve the food in.
- They don’t have to match!
I’ve prepared a meze at home a few times now, and I’m not going to lie, they take time and preparation – especially if you are cooking from scratch, but the end result is so worth it! These days, more and more supermarkets are selling ethnic foods, so it’s easier to buy things like houmous, taramasalata, even Greek meze dishes like butter beans, without worrying to make them yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to buy ready-made dishes!
- You could have houmous, taramosalata, tzatziki, olives.
- Asda sells some ready-made meze dishes in cans.
If you’re going to be serving my menu for your meze, (and I hope you do!) the dish that takes the longest to prepare is the dolmades, which are stuffed vine (grape) leaves – also called koupepia. A fair few Greek dishes are labor intensive – I’m sure it was a ruse by Greek men to keep women in the kitchen!! These are a labor of love to make and we love ’em! They’re made by rolling a stuffing of pork mince and rice in vine leaves, then boiled with a tomato stock. They can be eaten hot or cold. Mine passed the ‘dad taste test’ so I know they’re good!
- Prepare as many dishes in advance as you can.
- If they can be cooked and served cold, then get them cooked in advance.
- If they need to be served hot, then have everything ready to cook at the last moment.
Halloumi is a Greek Cypriot cheese which is great for grilling as it doesn’t melt! Grill simply over hot charcoals if possible, or if not, pop under the grill!
Once you’ve got all the dishes that you are making from scratch either cooked or prepared to cook later, you’ll want to get everything else ready.
Decant pre-bought dips and other deli foods into dishes so you don’t have to worry about doing this at the last minute. In fact, if you’ve made your own dips etc, decant them too! Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge (if required) until you are ready to serve.
Mezedhes (the name of the individual dishes that are in a meze) were created to accompany drinks. You can now buy Keo – a Cypriot beer in the UK. I’ve seen it in some supermarkets and off-licenses. There is also traditional ouzo, a Greek aniseed liqueur, and there is a Cypriot liqueur called zivania a very strong alcoholic beverage that is best served ice-cold straight from the freezer. And of course, wine! Red, white or rose – whichever you prefer. You could always try retsina which is a wine made from pine resin. My dad tells me it is an acquired taste! Remember soft drinks for those who don’t drink alcohol.
Don’t forget the drinks!
- Place the dishes of prepared food out on the table ready for when guests arrive.
- Be casual with a pile of plates, cutlery, and napkins
- Don’t forget plenty of pita bread and breadsticks for dipping and dunking!
Cook any last-minute dishes as people are tucking in – or take a break between courses if needed. This is a casual dining experience to be eaten over several hours.