Lahanodolmades me avgolemono

Lahanodolmades me avgolemono

or "Koupepia Krambiou me avgolemono", as they would say in Cyprus

Christina showed you how to pick vine leaves for stuffing and Myrtia showed you how to prepare them, but there is another kind of dolmades or “koupepia” as they are known in Cyprus and that is cabbage leaf ones. They are not a particularly Cypriot speciality but Greek dishes are cooked to a greater or lesser extent throughout the Greek Diaspora regardless of where they originate from. Soutzoukakia Smyrneika, for example which originate from Smyrna, my grandmother’s region, are regularly cooked all over Greece and Cyprus.

Here I am going to show you how to make the other type of “Koupepia” (you may know them as “Dolmades” from your holidays in Greece or from Greek restaurants in England). They are made from cabbage leaves and I actually prefer them to the vine leaf ones, though I like those too.

One of the first things you have to do is to soften the cabbage leaves. I usually cut off the lower part of the cabbage and use this to chop up and add to a salad, particularly good in salad to accompany souvlaki. The leaves from the upper part of the cabbage are then easy to peel apart. Add them to a large saucepan of boiling water and simmer till they are soft.

Meanwhile prepare your stuffing. Myrta commented in her article on Koupepia that while rice is usually mixed in raw with the rest of the stuffing, some people like to cook or part cook the rice first. That is my personal preference. 

I consider the preparation of the stuffing a very important element in producing a tasty result. I put a little olive oil into a large frying pan – just enough to make a thin film of oil at the bottom of the pan. I finely chop a large onion and a few cloves of garlic and to the pan and heat till the onion is translucent. I add a good sprinkling of oregano or fresh thyme and some pepper. Most people would probably like to add salt at this point too, but I personally, usually prefer not to add salt to food except to eggs, potatoes and a little bit to pasta.  I add my mincemeat and lightly brown it, then stir in my nearly cooked rice.  I allow to simmer a little.

I then take my softened cabbage leaves, one by one, add a tablespoon of stuffing into each and wrap them into little parcels. I then add them to the saucepan in which the cabbage leaves were softened retaining the water in which they were boiled.  I allow to simmer for ten minutes or so (till the cabbage leaves are really soft).

While they are simmering, I make my avgolemono.  Whisk up the juice of two lemons and two eggs,  add ten to twenty tablespoons of the water in which the dolmades have been cooking, whisking all the while. Pour the egg and lemon juice back into the dolmades and continue to boil for another five minutes. It does not matter if there is a little bit of curdling of egg.

Dolmades can be eaten on their own as a starter, or served on a bed of rice or with chips as a main dish (kyrios piato). This is a dish that I really love. Throughout the Greek Diaspora, we use the egg and lemon sauce with a lot of dishes. It is easy to make, and a good sauce to know.

To accompany, in whites, I would go for a nice crisp Cyprus Xinisteri or Greek Assyrtiko from Santorini. In reds an earthy Maratheftiko would be an excellent choice .