Country of Origin: Cyprus
Milk-type: Pasteurized Cow’s, Goat’s, and Sheep’s Milk
Originating in the Levant, quite probably Cyprus, and likely sometime during the Medieval Byzantine period: Halloumi is an unripened, brined white cheese and a staple component of the traditional Levantine breakfast. The cheese has a distinctive layered texture, springy and squeaky—not unlike fresh cheese curd, or traditional mozzarella—and a very high melting-point, allowing it to be fried without melting. It was traditionally wrapped with mint leaves, a practice used historically to keep the cheese fresh, and still pacakaged with mint leaf fragments as garnish and for subtle flavouring. Whether eaten fried, or a room temperature: the flavour is quite mild, though distinctly salty, with a slightly tangy aroma slightly remeniscent of yogurt or buttermilk.
Halloumi pairs well with a variety of foods, or as part of meze—with khubz, olives, pickled wild cucumber, dolma, and hummus. Garnish halloumi with parsley or extra mint, and season with lemon juice and ground black pepper, or a dollop of harissa. If you’re cooking out: grill halloumi alongside shish kebab, especially kuzu shish (lamb skewers), and serve with fattoush.
Beverage Pairings: Raki, Ouzo, or other anise-flavoured liquers; mint or green tea, or Moroccan style coffee.