Kleftiko Traditional Cypriot Dish

Traditional Kleftiko Dish
Served With Roasted Potatoes

The slow cooking process allows the meat to become incredibly tender and juicy, while the herbs and lemon add a refreshing and tangy flavour. The dish is often served with roasted potatoes, vegetables, and a glass of red wine.

Kleftiko Cyprus Dish
An Authentic Cypriot Dish

Kleftiko is a traditional Cypriot dish that is known for its unique cooking method and delicious taste. The origins of the dish date back to the days of the Ottoman Empire when Cypriot rebels, known as kleftes, would steal lambs and cook them in underground ovens to avoid being caught.

Made With Lamb

The dish is traditionally made with lamb, which is marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs such as oregano and thyme. The lamb is then wrapped in parchment paper or aluminium foil and placed in a clay oven, which is buried in the ground. The oven is then covered with soil to seal in the heat and flavour of the lamb.

A Popular Dish In Cyprus

Today, kleftiko is still a popular dish in Cyprus and can be found at many local restaurants and tavernas. While some restaurants may use modern ovens instead of the traditional clay oven, the dish is still cooked using the same method to ensure that it maintains its authentic taste.

Unwrap The Package

One of the unique aspects of kleftiko is the way it is served. The parchment paper or aluminium foil is often left intact, and the diner must carefully unwrap the package to reveal the delicious lamb inside. This adds an element of surprise and excitement to the dining experience, making kleftiko a fun and memorable meal to share with friends and family.


Overall, kleftiko is a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Cypriot people, who were able to create a delicious and unique dish using only the ingredients and tools available to them. Today, it remains a beloved dish that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, and is a must-try for anyone visiting Cyprus.

How to Make Kleftiko


– 2kg lamb shoulder, bone-in cut in large chunks

– 1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled

– 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

– 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme

– 1 lemon, juiced

– 1 tbsp olive oil

– 1 tsp salt

– 1/2 tsp black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F.
  2. In a large baking dish, add the lamb shoulder, onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Mix well until the lamb is coated with the seasoning.
  3. Take each of the pieces of lamb, seal it in a silver foil and place it in an oven pot.
  4. Place it in the oven on high heat and cook for 3 hours or until the lamb is tender and falling off the bone.
  5. After 3 hours lower the heat and cook for 3 more hours.
  6. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  7. Serve with roasted potatoes, vegetables, or a fresh Greek salad.
  8. Enjoy your delicious Keftiko!

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