Halloumi is one of those rich, decadent types of cheeses that genuinely causes excitement when found in a salad. The delicate balance of saltiness and creaminess melts in your mouth and grilled, fried, roasted or raw, it is the perfect accompaniment to any meal or perfect as a snack. Can you tell we’re obsessed?
The history of halloumi
For those of you who aren’t in the know, halloumi is a hard, white cheese traditionally made from a mixture of sheep and goat milk. Halloumi originally comes from the Mediterranean and was first made in Cyprus during the Medieval Byzantine period (AD 395 – 1191). This cheese was an integral part of life at the time, with many people relying on Halloumi for the protein content and villages would come together to make huge batches of it together. Today, many Cypriot families still have surnames such as Hallumas, Halluma and Hallumakis – all derived from halloumi. Halloumi is cited in ancient scripts, such as in AD 867 in a poem by Giorgios Vizinos called ‘The Poor Cypriot’, as well as by Leonardo Donato, the military leader of Venice from 1606-1612, who loved halloumi and wrote about how to make it.
How halloumi is made
While there is an art to making halloumi, it is not the easiest cheese to make at home. Unpasteurised sheep and goat milk needs to be heated to 32 degrees Celsius. Once the milks have reached the right temperature, rennet (a stomach enzyme found in young animals) needs to be added, which causes the milk to separate into curds and whey. The curds need to be removed and pressed into small rectangular moulds and then left to cool. Once they have cooled down, they are simmered in the whey until they float – this usually takes 45 minutes. The blocks are then soaked in salty brine for 24 hours before they are ready to eat!
How to eat halloumi
As mentioned above, halloumi can be cooked and eaten in a number of ways. Because it can withstand a high level of heat, it is perfect for cooking on a skewer over a barbecue, creating a halloumi kebab or adding to a salad or a wrap. Grilling halloumi is also a popular cooking method – just cut into strips or blocks and toast it under or on the grill. You can add halloumi to a burger, to a chicken dish or simply eat it on its own.
Where to find halloumi in Singapore
There are lots of restaurants and cafes in Singapore that serve yummy halloumi. Check out Pita Tree Mediterranean Kitchen and Bar and Qasr Grill & Mezze Bar. They all serve golden halloumi at a moderate price and are rated highly.