Halloumi is a cheese indigenous to Cyprus and the East Mediterranean. It is traditionally made from a mixture of goats' milk and sheeps' milk, although some halloumi can be bought that also contains cows' milk. Commercial halloumi contains more cows' milk than goat and sheep milk. This reduces the cost but changes the taste and the grilling properties.
The cheese is white, with a distinctive layered texture, similar to mozzarella, and has a salty flavour. It is stored in its natural juices with salt-water. It is often garnished with mint. The mint adds to the taste while some claim that it has natural anti-bacterial action that was traditionally helpful to increase the life of the cheese.
It is used in cooking, as it can be fried until brown without melting due to its higher-than-normal melting point, making it a good cheese for frying or grilling (such as in saganaki), as an ingredient in salads, or fried and served with vegetables. Cypriots like eating halloumi with watermelon in the warm months, and as halloumi and lounza - a combination of halloumi cheese and either a slice of smoked pork, or a soft lamb sausage.
This cheese is brilliant as a barbecue starter (and as a conversation piece). Just slice thinly and grill an the barbecue or a griddle pan. Serve with a simple salad as finger nibbles.
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