I first had one of these wonderful sandwiches just after I had moved to Cyprus; I remember sitting in an old, rundown taverna with a chilled Keo beer, whilst gazing out towards the deep blue Mediterranean Sea! Bliss! They are usually made in long, fat finger rolls, similar to hoagies or sub rolls, but you can also make them with pitta bread or other shapes of bread rolls. Halloumi is a traditional Cypriot cheese, which is still made locally by lots of Cypriot ladies - you often see the cheeses "hanging out to dry" in old, but hopefully clean (?) tights or stockings! Halloumi is an extremely good cheese for cooking, it maintains its shape and becomes toasty and slightly salty when fried or grilled. You can buy packs of good quality Cypriot Halloumi cheese in most supermarkets or in a delicatessen. It can last for up to ONE year when bought in a vacuum-sealed pack! Halloumi is the Greek Cypriot name for this cheese, the Turkish Cypriots call it Hellim - it is the same cheese however, and the best cheese is made with 100% sheep’s milk. You will find these sandwiches all over Cyprus in different guises, this is my favourite combination.
- Put 2 teaspoons of the olive oil into a frying pan and cook the onions over a medium heat until soft and slightly coloured, set aside.
- Put the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil into the frying pan and fry the halloumi slices over a medium to high heat on both sides, until golden brown and crispy around the edges.
- Cut the roll in half, and place the halloumi slices on one half and then squeeze the lemon juice over the cooked cheese slices. Sprinkle a few oregano leaves over the cheese before adding the sliced tomatoes and cooked onions.
- Place the other half of the roll on top of the cheese and the filling. Gently press the two halves together.
- Put the filled roll into a pre-heated griddle, Panini, George Foreman or sandwich grill for about 2 minutes, or until the bread roll is crisp and golden brown.
- Serve immediately with fresh lettuce leaves and a handful of black olives -- and don't forget the ice cold Keo or Efes beer!