Taste of CyprusLocal FoodKleftiko in paper (Kleftiko sto harti)

Kleftiko in paper (Kleftiko sto harti)

This famous dish of lamb and potatoes, seasoned with bay leaves and oregano, has an interesting back-story as well as being hearty and delicious.

The name means ‘stolen’ in Greek and, according to the Cyprus Food Museum, is thought to date back centuries when a sheep or goat that had been stolen from its flock would be cooked for several hours in a hole in the ground – sealed with mud – so that no tell-tale smoke would give the thieves away.

Although lamb or kid is mainly used for this recipe today, for a truly authentic Kleftiko, a goat (preferably three years old) is used instead. The prolonged cooking time in a well-sealed traditional clay oven, turns the usually sinewy meat into a tender dish that you could not achieve with conventional cooking.


3 pieces of lamb leg,
1cup olive oil
Bay leaves
Oregano Place the lamb in a large bowl with the herbs and olive oil and mix well. (This is best done the day before)
Cut 3 pieces of greaseproof paper, large enough to cover each piece of meat. Wrap each piece securely (like an envelope) and place in a clay cooking pot and bake at 200°C for 3 hours. When ready, serve on a platter still wrapped in paper.


Top Stories