Koupepia me lahana, are the Cypriot version of dolmades, made with Silverbeet leaves, instead of vine leaves.
Lahana in the Cypriot dialect are silverbeet (in Greece called seskoula), which are the same family of Chard but with a white stalk.
Silverbeet grows all year round and is easy to cultivate, so it is a good alternative to make dolmades when vine leaves are not available.
In Greece, they make a similar recipe, called seskoulodolmades but 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 silverbeet leaves.
Although we’ve had a refrigerator before I was born, those refrigerators had very small 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 silverbeet 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 called Dolmades or Koupepia Yialantzi.
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.
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 silverbeet or Swiss Chard, so in Greece these would be called seskoulodolmades.
Today is a blackletter day for us Cypriots and Greeks, as in 1974, 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.
A similar recipe is included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste as well as in Volume 1 of the e-cookbook.
- 60 silverbeet leaves
- 1 kilo (2.20 lbs) ground meat (preferably half port and half veal)
- 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 2 - 3 tbsp dried mint
- 3 cups fresh ripe tomatoes, pureed, divided
- ½ cup short grain rice
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 1½ cups water
- Wash the silverbeet leaves and blanch for 5 minutes. Add cold water and drain.
- In a skillet heat half of the olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the ground meat and sauté until it turns white. Add
half of the tomato and cook for 5 minutes stirring once in a while.
- Mix in the remaining ingredients, except lemon juice, for a minute and remove from the heat. Set aside to cool.
- Put a leaf on a plate, vein side facing up, remove the central vein and put about a tbsp of the mixture near the stem.
- Neatly fold left edge and then right edge and then roll all the way.
- Wrap up into a cigar shape (don’t fold too tight as the rice will expand during cooking).
- Repeat with the remaining silverbeet leaves and filling.
- Place neatly in the pot starting from the edge moving in a
circle towards the centre. Second and third layers may be placed on top.
- Add the remaining tomato and olive oil as well as lemon juice and then cover them with a plate (which must be exactly the size of the pot). This is done so that when the koupepia are boiling, they will not open.
- Finally add water to cover the plate and bring to a boil. Cover with the lid, reduce heat and simmer for about 35 - 40 minutes.
- Allow to rest for a while before serving.
- Serve with Greek yoghurt.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 174Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 124mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 4g
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Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,