In Cyprus the most popular of the stuffed vegetables (Dolma) are Koupepia. Stuffed grape leaves with minced meat, rice tomatoes and herbs. Believe it or not this dish is a seasonal one! Grape leaves are cut this time of the year and the market is full of them. Simply delicious!
Place a medium pot into high fire and bring to a boil. Add in batches the grape leaves and cook for 1 – 1 ½ minutes to soften. Drain and repeat for the rest of the grape leaves. Keep aside.
In the meantime, place in a large bowl the minced meat, rice, onions, mint, oregano, 30 ml olive oil, cinnamon, parsley, salt, and pepper. Pour the grated tomatoes and mix.
Open one by one the grape leaves with the non-shiny side facing upwards making sure that the stem is cut and removed. Take a tablespoon full of the meat mixture and place it in the widest part of the leaf. Tuck in the ends of the leave and roll tightly.
Each of the rolled leaves is placed in a non-stick casserole where we have added few grape leaves at the bottom to ensure that the koupepia don’t stick at the bottom. Each koupepi is snugly placed next to each other creating a circle of koupepia with the end of the leaf facing the bottom of the casserole.
Pour on them the diluted paste, the rest of the 30 ml oil and the lemon juice, making sure that the koupepia are submerged. Place a plate on top of them to make sure that they stay submerged and keep their shape.
Cover the casserole and place on low heat to simmer for 45-50 minutes.