Legendary Dishes | Dolmades / Dolması / Koupepia {Κουπέπια} (vine leaves stuffed with meat and rice)


Called koupepia in Cyprus and generally known as dolmades throughout the Balkans and eastern Mediterranean, these stuffed vine leaves are part of a stuffed vegetables tradition that includes stuffed dried aubergines and stuffed dried red peppers.

The stuffing is always a combination of minced meat and short grain rice with herbs and spices based on olive oil fried onions.

The Cypriot version uses pork meat, and has a strong lemon flavour.

Fresh or dried mint is an essential ingredient in all versions.

In Cyprus, Greece and Turkey stuffed vine leaves are eaten as part of the meze (snack) tradition with flatbread (pie or pita), chickpea paste (houmous), deep-fried squid rings (calamari), grilled cheese, herb-flavored meatballs (keftedes or köfte), olives, olive oil bread (eliopitta), sesame seed paste (tahini), smoked cod roe (taramosalata), stuffed pastries (börek, böregi or bourekia).

  • 500 g lamb / pork, minced
  • 400 g vine leaves, boiled, drained and dried
  • 250 g tomatoes, blended
  • 150 g short grain rice
  • 120 g onion, chopped small
  • 75 ml olive oil
  • 4 lemons, juice
  • 1 tbsp mint, dried, crushed
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp marjoram, dried, crushed
  • 5 g cinnamon, ground
  • Black pepper, large pinch
  • Salt, pinch

Fry the onion in 45 ml of oil for 10 minutes over a medium heat, add the mince, brown. Add the tomatoes, increase heat, reduce mixture for five minutes.

Take pan off heat and leave to cool.

Add the rice, herbs, spices, seasonings and half of the lemon juice.

Separate the vine leaves, remove the stalk, place a heaped teaspoon of mixture on each leaf.

Use two for the smaller leaves, and overlap.

Fold over the sides and roll tightly into a parcel.

Line a wide saucepan with vine leaves, place the stuffed vine leaves on top, packed together in layers. Add two tablespoons of oil, remaining lemon juice and sufficient water to cover the parcels.

Cook covered over a low heat for 30 minutes.

Indigenous Ingredients VINE LEAVES