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Koupepia me lahana and not lahanodolmades

Those of you reading my blog know that I am from Cyprus, which although it is an independent state, our culture, language, religion, customs, food, music, national anthem etc., are Greek.

The immigration of settlers from Greece, which had begun at least by 1200 b.C., led to the foundation of Greek kingdoms covering most of the island, and, since the start of the 1st millennium b.C., the Greek language has been predominant in Cyprus; the fact that the dialectal form in which it first appears is known as Arcado-Cypriot confirms traditions of the Peloponnesian origin—and specifically of the Arcadianorigin—of the immigrants.

By courtesy of Encylopaedia Brittanica, about Cyprus

My husband is from Arcadia and we have found a lot of common words, which are not used in other parts of Greece. For instance my mother-in-law uses words such as, μπατανία (mbatania) for blanket and σίκλα (sikla) for bucket, and many other words which we also use in Cyprus. Our dialect still has a lot of ancient words in it. For instance we say Κραμπί (krambi) from the ancient κράμβη kramvi. In Greece this is called lahano or mapa (λάχανο – μάπα) which in English is cabbage. In Greece they make lahanodolmades which of course are dolmades made with cabbage but in Cyprus what we call lahano in Greece they call it seskoulo, meaning silver beat or Swiss Chard, so in Greece these would be called seskoulodolmades.

Koupepia which is the Cypriot version of dolmades, as you all know are stuffed vine leaves.   The difference from the Greek ones is that we add tomato and cinnamon, which adds a heavenly taste to this dish.   Before the deep freezers, they used to preserve the vine leaves in other ways.  (See link below). One was by threading them and hanging them in a shady place to dehydrate and when they wanted to make koupepia they would boil them in water for a few minutes until they became soft again. When the preserved vine leaves finished they had alternative ways of making them and one way was using silver beat leaves.

Although we’ve had a refrigerator before I was born, those refrigerators had very small deep freezers and I remember my mother threading the vine leaves and hanging them in a store room we had, to dry but the vine leaves finished soon as we were a large family, so when they finished she used to make them with silver beat leaves, which I wasn’t really fond of when I was a child but growing up our tastes do change and now I love them. Contrary to dolmades, which are in an avgolemono sauce (egg and lemon sauce, you may see all these recipes in the links given below), koupepia are with tomato and cinnamon and are great for finger food during buffet dinners.  There is also a vegan recipe which we make during Lent.

Today is a blackletter day for us Cypriots and Greeks, as thirty four years ago, the Turks invaded Cyprus and half of our beautiful country is still under Turkish occupation. The capital of Cyprus, Nicosia, is the only divided capital in Europe. Thirty four years later, half it’s population are still refugees and 1619 persons are still missing. Please take a minute of your time and read the links I have placed on this subject.

The badge with Cyprus reads “I do NOT forget”

I am submitting this recipe to Jeena, of Jeena’s Kitchen, for her event It’s all about Memories. Sweet Memories about my mother but bitter memories about my country.

The recipe is included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste as well as in Volume 1 of the e-cookbook.

If you liked this recipe, you will also like:

How to preserve vine leaves


Kremmydia Gemista (Stuffed Onions)

Dolmades me Avgolemono

Dolmades Gialantzi (vegan)

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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33 Responses

  1. glamah16

    Thanks for your nice comment and dropping by. Would you believe my father spent some time in Cyprus in the early 60’s? I have some photos of him somewhere there.He was in school in Beirut and travelled throughout.I like this with the tomato/cinnamon.

  2. Peter G

    I swear there needs to be a “foodie lexicon”. They look like silverbeet to me except the ones we get here are darker in colour. The Americans call sillverbeet “Swiss Chard”…so may variations ! At least now I know what the greek word is as I’ve heard my mother say “sekoula” many times. I love all inds of dolmades and I think these koupepia look great. Tomato and cinnamon are a classic combination…yum!

  3. srikars kitchen

    thxs for the comment.Kadai(pan) is the name of the utensil used to make.ur blog is very nice and innovative..

  4. Peter M

    Ivy, I was in Greece in 1974 and one of things I remember was my relatives listening to the radio with great urgency on the events of that summer.

    I had three uncles who would were on military standby all summer.

    Here in Toronto, I once demonstrated outside of a hotel where Denktash was speaking and watched him scurry into the hotel in fear.

    The Greek & Cypriot communities of Toronto commemorate this day yearly and we certainly do not forget.

  5. Lulu Barbarian

    Extremely interesting, Ivy!

  6. Illatharasi

    Wonderful memories! Love your presetation:) Learnt few greek words 😉

  7. giz

    This is interesting – but it seems like another variation of dolmades – is it? The history is also really interesting. Shame to admit it but I didn’t even know that the capital of Cyprus was divided. I should know that.

    Nice memories of mom and sad memories for the country. Why does life have to be so complicated by politics?

  8. Ivy

    Hi Glamah. I am glad that I visited your blog and I shall visit you more often. Beirut had good schools and was renowned for its American University.

  9. Ivy

    Hi Peter. I was under the impression that that silver beat and Swiss chard were the same. Maybe it’s a different variety.

  10. Ivy

    Thanks Srikar. I like learning from various recipes.

  11. Ivy

    Peter M, thanks for not forgetting.

  12. Ivy

    Thank you Lulu. I like connecting posts with history.

  13. Ivy

    Thank you Vani, at least most of them were wonderful.

  14. Ivy

    Giz, Cyprus is far away from Canada and for people having no interest to a certain place, it’s normal not to know. However that was the meaning of my post, to bring awareness of the situation, even if it is a needle in the haystack.

    And to answer your question, yest it is another version of dolmades.

  15. Bellini Valli

    I have taken a moment sis to read about the history. Every country has its issues that’s for sure. On to the dolmades as you know they are my favourite snack…forget the chocolate…bring on the dolmades:D

  16. Ivy

    Thanks sis for reading the links. I am sure you will like these as well.

  17. JennDZ - The Leftover Queen

    Very interesting post, Ivy – I always learn something new when I visit you!

  18. Ivy

    Val, I what I meant is that you would also like these (meaning koupepia and not the links) wink, wink.

  19. Ivy

    Thank you Jenn.

  20. Núria

    Ivy, you have amazing recipes! And also I love all the backround history explanations that go with the dishes :D. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Ivy

    Thank you Nuria. I try and record some information my children might find interesting when and if they decide to read my posts.

  22. glamah16

    Thats where he was the Americain University.I hope to visit yours as well.

  23. Ivy

    Glamah, the American University of Beirut was of a very high standard.

  24. Mike of Mike's Table

    These look delicious! I’d only seen dolmades before, but these look like a very welcome change.

  25. Bobby

    Interesting recipe Ivy, looks really good. Very detailed instructions on how to make these.

  26. Elly

    Delicious, Ivy! How interesting to learn some of the different dialect. This is a great twist on what I know as the traditional lahanodolmades.

  27. Ivy

    Mike, dolmades are the most popular and I love them with avgolemono. However for those who cannot find vine leaves or want to avoid eggs this is a great way to make them.

  28. Ivy

    Thanks Bobby. Some people think it’s complicated to roll them so I thought it would be useful to show how.

  29. Ivy

    Thanks Elly. I am glad that you liked the explanations of our dialect. Shall try and do this more often.

  30. Sam Sotiropoulos

    Ivy, as you may or may not already know, my family is of Arcadian descent so I am quite familiar with the historical and linguistic ties between Arcadia and Cyprus. I appreciated your short primer on the topic. As for the Turkish invasion which has left one third of your beautiful island under a dead-end occupation, it is one of the most shameful acts of many shameless incidents that took place in the so-called “civilized” 20th Century. That said, let me say that your recipe looks great and makes for a nice change from the more widely known dolmades recipes. Good work!

  31. Ivy

    Sam, I know that you are from Arcadia, I read it in your posts. Thanks for your lovely comments.

  32. Lanigan

    The best article I’ve read on the very first day of the year. Thanks 🙂

    Happy new year

  33. I didn’t knew anything about “Koupepia” and even never heard about it. It was my first time to read about “Koupepia”. Thanks author sharing that much information on this.