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Fresh sliced halloumi
Country of originCyprus
Source of milkGoat, sheep, sometimes cow
PasteurisedCommercially, but not traditionally
Aging timeCommercially not aged
Traditionally aged[citation needed]
Commons page Related media on Wikimedia Commons

Halloumi or haloumi (/həˈlmi/) is a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk, and sometimes also cow's milk.[1][2][3][4] It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried or grilled. Rennet is used to curdle the milk in halloumi production,[5] although no acid-producing bacteria are used in its preparation.[6]

Halloumi is often associated with the island of Cyprus, where it has been produced by a multi-ethnic population for many centuries.[7] It is also popular throughout the region broadly known as the Levant.[8][9] It became widely available in Turkey after 2000.[7] Demand in the United Kingdom surpassed that in every other European country, except Cyprus, by 2013.[10]


The English name halloumi is derived from Modern Greek: χαλλούμι [xaˈlumi], challoúmi, from Cypriot Maronite Arabic xallúm,[11][12] ultimately from Egyptian Arabic: حلومḥallūm [ħalˈluːm].[11][12][13] The Egyptian Arabic word is itself a loanword from Coptic ϩⲁⲗⲱⲙ halom (Sahidic) and ⲁⲗⲱⲙ alom (Bohairic) 'cheese', referring to a cheese that was eaten in medieval Egypt.[14] In modern Egypt, hâlûmi is similar to Cypriot "halloumi" but is essentially a different cheese,[clarification needed] is eaten either fresh or brined and spiced. In Northern Cyprus halloumi is generally known by the Turkish name hellim.


Grilled halloumi cheese

The methods of making halloumi and cheeses such as feta likely originated sometime in the Medieval Byzantine period (AD 395 – 1191).[15] The earliest known surviving descriptions of halloumi were recorded in the mid-16th century by Italian visitors to Cyprus,[16][17] where it is often said to have originated.[8] However, the question of whether the recipe for the quintessential halloumi was born in Cyprus and then travelled to Lebanon and the rest of the Levant, or whether the basic techniques of making cheese that resists melting evolved over time in various parts of the eastern Mediterranean—or both—does not have a definitive answer.[7][18][17]

Cypriot farmers relied on halloumi as a source of protein and in many villages the entire community would join forces and make huge batches together. Recipes varied from village to village, with each taking great pride in their special technique and secret ingredients. Halloumi became so important to village life that even the surnames of many Cypriot families reflect their role in halloumi production, with names such as Hallumas, Halluma and Hallumakis common by the 19th century.

Traditionally, halloumi was made from sheep and goat milk, since there were few cows on the island until they were brought over by the British in the 20th century. But as demand grew, industrial cheese-makers began using more of the cheaper and more plentiful cow's milk.[19]

Halloumi is registered as a protected Cypriot product within the United States (since the 1990s) but not yet in the European Union. The delay in registering the name halloumi with the EU has been largely due to a conflict between dairy producers and sheep and goat farmers as to whether registered halloumi may contain cow's milk, and how much.[20][21]

Overview and preparation

The cheese is white, with a distinctive layered texture, similar to mozzarella, and has a salty flavour. It is stored in its natural juices. It is commonly garnished with mint, a practice based on the fact that halloumi keeps better and stays fresher and more flavoursome when wrapped with mint leaves.[citation needed] In accordance with this tradition, some packages of halloumi contain fragments of mint leaves on the surface of the cheese.

The cheese is often used in cooking and can be fried until brown without melting, owing to its higher-than-normal melting point. This makes it an excellent cheese for frying or grilling (as in saganaki) or fried and served with vegetables, or as an ingredient in salads. Cypriots like eating halloumi with watermelon in the warm months, and as halloumi and lountza, a combination of halloumi cheese and either a slice of smoked pork, or a soft lamb sausage.[citation needed] In many regions it is often eaten with breakfast, or as a light meal or side dish.

The resistance to melting comes from the fresh curd being heated before being shaped and placed in brine.[22] Traditional halloumi is a semicircular shape, about the size of a large wallet, weighing 220–270 g. The fat content is approximately 25% wet weight, 47% dry weight with about 17% protein. Its firm texture when cooked causes it to squeak on the teeth when being chewed.[23]

Traditional halloumi is made from unpasteurised sheep and goat milk. Many people also like halloumi that has been aged; kept in its brine, it is much drier, much stronger and much saltier, making it very different from the milder halloumi generally used in the West.

Nutritional facts

100 grams of commercially produced packaged halloumi has a typical composition of:[24]

Fat 26.9 g
Carbohydrate 2.2 g
Protein 21.2 g
Energy 336 kcal
Salt 2.8 g

See also


  1. ^ Gibbs, Paul; Morphitou, Ria; Savva, George (2004). "Halloumi: exporting to retain traditional food products". British Food Journal. 106 (7): 569–576. doi:10.1108/00070700410545755.
  2. ^ "Cyprus - Cultural life - Daily life and social customs - halloumi cheese". Retrieved 2009-06-16. Geography has left Cyprus heir to numerous culinary traditions—particularly those of the Levant, Anatolia, and Greece — but some dishes, such as the island’s halloumi cheese…are purely Cypriot
  3. ^ Ayto, John (1990). The glutton's glossary: a dictionary of food and drink terms. Routledge. p. 133. ISBN 0-415-02647-4. Haloumi, or halumi, is a mild salty Cypriot cheese made from goat's, ewe's, or cow's milk.
  4. ^ Dew, Philip – Reuvid, Jonathan - Consultant Editors (2005). Doing Business with the Republic of Cyprus. GMB Publishing Ltd. p. 46. ISBN 1-905050-54-2. Cyprus has managed to secure EU recognition of halloumi as a traditional cheese of Cyprus ; therefore no other country may export cheese of the same nameCS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Lazarou, Stalo. "Χαλλούμι". (in Greek). Cyprus Food Virtual Museum. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  6. ^ Charles O'Connor. Traditional Cheesemaking Manual. International Livestock Centre for Africa.
  7. ^ a b c Welz, Gisela (1 September 2015). European Products: Making and Unmaking Heritage in Cyprus. Berghahn Books. pp. 93–110. ISBN 9781782388234 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ a b Robinson, R. K. – Tamime, A. Y. (1991). Feta and Related Cheeses. Woodhead Publishing. p. 144. ISBN 1-85573-278-5. Halloumi is a semi-hard to hard, unripened cheese that, traditionally, is made from either sheep's milk or goat's milk or a mixture of the two. Although the cheese has its origins in Cyprus, it is widely popular throughout the Middle East, and hence many countries have now become involved with its manufacture. In Australia, it is coated with a greek yogurtCS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Allen, Gary J. (2007). The herbalist in the kitchen. University of Illinois Press. p. 212. ISBN 0-252-03162-8. Haloumi (sometimes spelled Halloumi) is a brine-cured cheese from Cyprus containing chopped mint.
  10. ^ Cooke, Nicholas (22 September 2013). "How halloumi took over the UK". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-09-23.
  11. ^ a b Company, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing. "The American Heritage Dictionary entry: halloumi". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  12. ^ a b Borg, Alexander (2004). A Comparative Glossary of Cypriot Maronite Arabic (Arabic-English): With an Introductory Essay. Brill. pp. 11, 209–210. ISBN 9789004131989 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ "halloumi". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. 1989.
  14. ^ Andriotis et al., Λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής
  15. ^ Goldstein, Darra – Merkle, Kathrin – Parasecoli, Fabio – Mennell, Stephen - Council of Europe (2005). Culinary cultures of Europe: identity, diversity and dialogue. Council of Europe. p. 121. ISBN 92-871-5744-8.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Patapiou, Nasa (2006). "Leonardo Donà in Cyprus - A future Doge in the Karpass Peninsula (1557)" (PDF). Cyprus Today. Press and Information Office, Ministry of Interior, Nicosia, Cyprus. p. 8. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  17. ^ a b P. Papademas, "Halloumi Cheese", p. 117ff, in Adnan Tamime, ed., Brined Cheeses in the Society of Dairy Technology series, Blackwell 2006, ISBN 1-4051-2460-1
  18. ^ Garanti, Zanete (April 2016). "Marketing Hellim / Halloumi Cheese: A Comparative Study of Northern and Southern Cyprus" (PDF). Proceedings of the 2016 International Conference "Economic Science for Rural Development" No 43. pp. 134–142. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  19. ^ In Cyprus, New Cheese Edict Gets the Goat of Dairy Farmers Wall Street Journal - October 11, 2012
  20. ^ Application for the name ‘halloumi’ to go to EU in early 2007, Cyprus Mail archive article - Saturday, September 2, 2006 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2006-12-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ Saoulli, Alexia (March 3, 2007). "Halloumi bickering threatens EU application". Cyprus Mail. Archived from the original on August 13, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-04.
  22. ^ Galarneau, Andrew Z (2008-09-14). "Elements: Halloumi -One ingredient, one dish". The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2008-09-15.
  23. ^ Eskin, Leah (21 March 2016). "The salty, satisfying squeak of fried halloumi". NY Times. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Tesco Halloumi 250G". Teso. Archived from the original on 2016-04-14. Retrieved 2016-04-23.

External links

  • Media related to Halloumi at Wikimedia Commons