Sensational Beef Stifado a Pleasant Surprise from Cyprus

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Sensational Beef Stifado a Pleasant Surprise from Cyprus - Served www.compassandfork.comToday we feature a classic, Greek stew – beef stifado, or should that be the famous, Cypriot dish?

Whatever its origins, we are featuring it today! Commonplace throughout the region, it is a robust flavored stew, containing slow-cooked beef that just melts in your mouth. Beef stifado is traditionally served with orzo (small, rice-shaped pasta) or hilopittes (egg pasta).

This is a great dish to enjoy in the cooler months. Simple to prepare, it just slowly simmers away while you are pottering in the kitchen. The beautiful scent will slowly envelope your house as the rich sauce slowly bubbles away, gently cooking the beef. It’s a mildly spiced dish. True comfort food, beef stifado will appeal to those of all ages.

We first enjoyed beef stifado on the island of Cyprus, an independent island nation, which draws its cuisine from neighboring Greece and Turkey. Cyprus is not unlike the Greek and Turkish Islands in the Aegean Sea, in its geology, its attitudes and its cuisine. We detail some of our favorite meals and restaurants around Paphos and the capital, Nicosia.

Cypriot Cuisine is a Close Cousin of Greek and Turkish Cuisine

What is a typical banquet you might eat in Cyprus? It is possible to eat mezes (small dishes) and have a little taste of everything Cypriot. Here is a sample:

  • Black and marinated green olives;
  • Tahini, taramasalata and talattouri (thick tzatziki) accompanied with village salad and village bread;
  • Octopus in red wine;
  • Snails in tomato sauce;
  • Pork in aspic;
  • Pickled capers;
  • Pickled cauliflower;
  • Raw carrots;
  • Dressed kohlrabi;
  • Seafood such as white bait, red mullet (barbouni) and calamari are the most popular choices, all served with large chunks of lemon;
  • Grilled halloumi cheese;
  • Time for some meat. Smoked pork, keftedes (meatballs), sheftalia (pork rissoles), grilled pork and loukanika (traditional, smoked Cyprus sausage);
  • Composite dishes and casseroles. Drunken pork (afelia), moussaka, lamb, rabbit or beef stifado, see below.
  • Kebabs or souvlaki, kleftiko (slow-cooked lamb traditionally cooked in an underground oven) and grilled chicken; and
  • Fresh fruit and pastries filled with fresh curd cheese and honey.

Sensational Beef Stifado a Pleasant Surprise from Cyprus - Cypriot Coast www.compassandfork.comOf course this is accompanied with the requisite jug of village wine.

Is that enough of a list for you? The above is the order in which you may be served in a taverna. Of course you pick and choose what you might like to eat.

Other traditional, home-cooked meals might include dolmades, greens cooked with black-eyed beans, stuffed eggplant (imam bayidi – a beautiful dish), spanakopita and pastitsio (baked pasta).

And if you like the idea of some healthy mezes, here are some great recipes as part of a Turkish meze platter.

Restaurant Recommendations in Paphos and Nicosia

Needless to say eating in Cyprus was a pleasure. Our favorite restaurants in Paphos were:

Laona, 6 Votsi Street, Paphos. Small, family-run restaurant cooking traditional meals as well as some that grandma would have made. Absolutely brilliant and deserving of its great reviews. Not expensive.

Hondros, 96 Apostolos Pavlos Ave, Kato Paphos. Beautifully situated by the port. A little more up-market than Laona. A taverna with all of the usual suspects. The pig on the spit was to die for. Moderately expensive.

Sensational Beef Stifado a Pleasant Surprise from Cyprus - Ancient Floor www.compassandfork.comAnd in Nicosia:

Piatsa Gourounaki, Odos Faneromenis 92, Nicosia 1011. If you like grilled meats, you will love this place. Large portions and fantastic value.

Rural Tavernas

There is more to Cyprus than just hanging around the major towns. Our favorite activity was to catch a bus to many of the outer-lying towns around Paphos, do a little exploring or hiking and then enjoy a great lunch at a taverna, along with a jug of village wine. Service was always friendly. You can read more about that here. Bliss!

I hope you enjoyed my Cypriot food musings. And so, onto today’s featured, recipe.

Beef Stifado

A simple recipe where we marinate the beef overnight and then slowly cook it the next day.

Don’t like or can’t eat beef? Rabbit stifado is just as delicious and was very common on Cyprus. It may actually be better than the beef version! Lamb Stifado is also quite common. Can’t eat meat? Then substitute with hearty mushrooms. The same base is essentially used for each of these versions, so it is just a matter of picking what suits you

Serve with orzo and a village salad.

More Stews, Casseroles and Comfort Food

Casseroles and stews come into their own in winter. If you are looking for some more comfort food, try some of these dishes:

French, Coq au Vin with a twist, cooked in the slow cooker. An easy version of the chicken and red wine classic.

Want another slow cooker recipe using beef and Pinot Noir? Red Wine and Herb casserole is perfect for busy people.

Another great stew you can try from Greece is Drunken Pork (also using red wine). I see a trend here!

From Romania is a dish the whole family will love. Pork Goulash is beautifully spiced and the sour cream makes it true comfort food.

And, from Turkey, comes Sultan’s Delight, made with lamb and paired with smoky eggplant. It’s a gorgeously rich and satisfying meal. It could become your new best friend.

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Print Recipe
Beef Stifado
Print Recipe
Here is a simple, classic Greek/Cypriot stew. Beef, marinated overnight with easily sourced ingredients, and then slow cooked with salad onions and tomatoes. Beef may be replaced with rabbit or lamb. Or cut out the meat and use portobello mushrooms.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time Passive Time
6people 10minutes 2 1/2hours 12hours
Servings Prep Time
6people 10minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
2 1/2hours 12hours
Servings: people
Servings: people
  1. Make the marinade first. In a mortar, add juniper berries, ground cloves, fennel seeds and salt. Pound. Then add the garlic and pound again until well combined. Remove paste to a bowl, large enough to hold all of the meat. Add remaining marinade ingredients and stir well to combine. Finally, add the beef and stir well to ensure all of the beef is well coated with marinade. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. In a large, heavy-based saucepan or flame-proof casserole dish, over a medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the quartered salad onions and cook until golden all over and starting to caramelize. Then add the meat and marinade, tomato paste and chopped tomatoes. Add enough cool water to barely cover the stifado. Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer for 2 hours. Check for seasoning about half way through.
  3. Serve over orzo (traditional) or rice or mashed potatoes. Accompany with a village salad.
Recipe Notes
Try this classic taverna dish from Cyprus and Greece. Slow cooked beef makes a really flavorful stew. Gluten free,daity free, paleo and vegetarian option available.
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18 Responses

  1. I adore authentic Greek food, the flavors in this sound wonderful!

    • Editor

      The flavors are great in this dish. It is hard to stop at 1 serve.

  2. Claudia | Gourmet Project
    | Reply

    Cyprus, Greece or Turkey? I’m in for all three cuisines! can’t wait to try this stifado 🙂

    • Editor

      We loved the food in all 3 of those places. Stifado is a real classic and you can easily substitute out the beef.

  3. Peter L. Block
    | Reply

    I love stews and this feels very comforting. I really like how you share the geography of the dishes as well.

    • Editor

      Thank you Peter. The geography and history is a bit of a hobby. I quite enjoy it.

  4. Annie @ Annie's Noms
    | Reply

    Beef that melts in the mouth? Yes please; that’s my favourite type of beef! This looks so full of flavour and delicious!

    • Editor

      It was a very tasty dish, I must admit. The flavors are quite robust. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Christie
    | Reply

    I love all the savory spices like juniper and cinnamon. This is going to be one flavor dish and another destination to add to my “must visit” list.

    • Editor

      It is very Greek. Full of attitude and Greek flavors. You’ll love Cyprus and Greece, they are great places to visit.

  6. Amy
    | Reply

    Simply gorgeous photos! This stew looks and sounds so good. I love trying new foods, so I’ll have to add this one to the list.

    • Editor

      Amy, Thnaks for stopping by and commenting. It is a lovely recipe, hope you enjoy it.

  7. Kate @ VeggieDesserts
    | Reply

    Cypriot mezze sounds fantastic. I love this stifado – especially the juniper berries. They must add such a great extra dimension.

    • Editor

      Kate, Yes the juniper berries add a lot of depth to the flavor. The food in Cyprus was most enjoyable. Eating is very social.

  8. Samara Thiessen
    | Reply

    I really want to try this — it looks SO good! Also looks relatively easy too which is PERFECT for my cooking skills 🙂

    • Editor

      Samara, It is easy, but quite gourmet tasting at the end. I hope you enjoy it.

  9. Kit Graham
    | Reply

    I love slow cooked beef in a tomato sauce. I need to try this! I am sure it is wonderful over rice too.

    • Editor

      Kit, Yes it would be great on rice as well. Let us know what you think.

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