Koupepia (as we call them in Cyprus) are dolmades stuffed with rice, ground pork or beef, fresh herbs and seasoning and tomato. They can be served as part of a meze platter or salad plate, eaten as finger food or as a main dish.
The difference from the Greek ones is that in Cyprus we do not add avgolemono sauce but instead we add tomato and cinnamon, which adds a heavenly taste to this dish and an irresistible smell while they are being cooked.
This is one of my family’s favourite dishes and it’s one of those few times that I don’t have to prepare a second meal because they all love this one.
While I was cooking, I remembered that this is a recipe I knew since I was still at school. When I was taking my First Certificate in English examination (called Lower Certificate) I was 14 years old. Our teacher told us that the examiners usually request the students to talk about something they like doing. I remember that even back then, I chose to speak about cooking. They asked me what my favourite meal was and I told them it was koupepia, stuffed vine leaves. The examiner asked me to describe the whole procedure of how this meal was prepared. Although I am not sure how my cooking skills were back then, I did pass the examinations but I suppose after so many years I must have improved my cooking skills as well. Although I have a Proficiency Degree in English, I don’t know about my English, after so many years, as I don’t use English often. I hope that I and can still explain the procedure and that you will understand my instructions but now that I am blogging in English again it will refresh my memory and hope to enrich my culinary vocabulary as well
Although dolmades are better served when warm, koupepia are best served cold, so they can easily be served as finger food, during a party or a gathering. In Cyprus we also make this dish using Swiss Chard instead of vine leaves and will post the recipe in the future.
The recipe is included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!
Other relevant recipes:
How to.. preserve vine leaves
Dolmades me Avgolemono (egg-lemon sauce)
Kremmydia Gemista (Stuffed Onions)
Koupepia me Lahana and not Lahanodolmades (Koupepia with Swiss Chard)
Dolmades Gialantzi (vegan)
Kolokythia Gemista (Stuffed Courgettes)