Koupepia (as we call them in Cyprus) are dolmades stuffed with rice, ground pork or beef, fresh herbs and seasoning, cooked in a tomato sauce. 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:
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!