Daktyla, also called daktyla kyrion (meaning ladies fingers) is the most popular Cypriot dessert made with phyllo which is very crisp and very juicy, filled with almonds, cinnamon and sugar.
They are fried and then drenched in syrup, scented with anthonero (orange blossom water), which make them irresistible.
Daktyla is a very old recipe with a few ingredients but so delicious.
As most of the Cypriot traditional recipes, these were made with simple everyday ingredients which they usually had at home.
This is one of the many Cypriot specialties offered during the pre-lenten period called “Sikoses” in Cyprus.
However, we often eat daktyla during Lent, as they are vegan. In the recipe I added some honey to the syrup, but this is optional.
The word “sikoses” derives from the verb σηκώνω = sikono, meaning lifting.
Sikoses is the ten day period before lent when the lifting of all the meat takes place before Easter.
Making daktyla used to be quite a difficult job, having to roll out the dough into very thin phyllo by hand but nowadays it is much easier using a pasta machine, although the procedure is time consuming as it takes some time to make them.
I remember my mother would make them quite often and she used to roll out the phyllo the traditional way, by hand.
She always needed some help and she would call me to help, as by the time I was 10 -12 years old shes was about 55 years old and suffered from rheumatism.
The remaining five siblings were either married or lived abroad.
The youngest of them all was my brother and he was seven years older than I and my first sister was seventeen years older than me, so I was the only one left to help her.
At the beginning she would tell me to press the edges with a fork and gradually year by year I helped her even more.
I eventually learned to roll out the phyllo by myself. Later on, when I got married, I bought a pasta machine, which made things much easier.
Instead of making the syrup from scratch, I sometimes love using my leftover syrups when making “glyka tou koutaliou” (Greek fruit preserves).
You should try them especially with bergamot syrup, as the taste is amazing!
This and many more Cypriot recipes are included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!
- 500 grams (1.10 lbs) all purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup mild olive oil
- 200 ml water (about 1 cup)
- Mild olive oil or peanut oil for frying
- 1½ cups almonds, skin on, finely ground
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup of sugar
- 2 - 3 tbsp anthonero
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tbsp Greek thyme honey (optional)
- 1½ cups water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 5 – 6 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 lemon peel
- 2 tbsp anthonero
- Prepare the dough and set aside to rest.
- Put the sugar, honey, water, cinnamon stick, cloves and lemon peel in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon, cloves and lemon peel and add the lemon juice and blossom water and let it cool.
- Finely pound the almonds but do not powder and mix with sugar, cinnamon, and as much of blossom water to make them hold together.
- Roll out the dough to make a very thin phyllo. Make a long piece of phyllo with width not more than 6 cm (2½”). Place about 1 tsp of filling at the edge and roll twice to the shape of a finger.
- Cut with a knife and press the edges firmly with a fork to seal. You can also make one large phyllo and add the filling alongside leaving gaps between each other about 4 cm (1½”).
- The remaining procedure is the same: roll it twice, cut it lengthwise, separate among the gaps, cut and then press with a fork.
- Place them on a floured surface not too close to each other because they may stick together. Cover first layer with cling film and add another layer on top.
- Heat plenty of olive oil in a frying pan and fry on both sides, until golden. Remove in the syrup until the other batch is fried.
- Remove to a colander for a few seconds and then place on a platter.
Note: Although it is a very simple dessert, it is best to have help during the frying procedure as they fry very quickly. They have to be placed in the syrup immediately and removed quickly to a strainer as the next batch will be already frying in the pan.
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