Koupes (plural of koupa) is one of Cyprus' most popular snacks or finger food, which can also be served as part of a meze dish. When I was a child, this delicious snack was sold by street vendors, but nowadays you can find it in supermarkets and bakeries. You can also find frozen koupes, and all you have to do is deep fry them, but they certainly do not compare with the taste and aroma of homemade koupes. They are quite fiddly to make, but I plucked up courage and decided to give them a try. I must admit that my koupes were quite tasty, but they lacked in appearance as they...cracked during frying. I think my mistake was that I had stuffed them with too much filling. This is why I didn't dare to post a photo of my first attempt to make my own koupes. I have scanned the photo below from one of my favourite cookbooks - "Cyprus Cooking for Friends" by Sandra Lysandrou. I have also slightly adapted her recipe. This recipe makes about 60 medium-sized koupes.
For the dough
- 1 kg fine cracked wheat
- 2 cups hot water
- 1 tbsp salt
- a pinch of white pepper
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- a pinch of ground cinnamon
- 1 onion, grated
For the filling
- 1 kg minced meat (half pork / half beef)
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup parsely, finely chopped
- a pinch of ground cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
- oil for deep frying
- To prepare the dough, put the water, the olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon and onion in a pan and place over medium heat. Bring to boil and remove from heat.
- Add the ground wheat immediately and stir well until all liquid has been absorbed. Cover and leave for at least 3 hours to cool.
- To prepare the filling, sweat the onions over medium to low heat. Add the minced meat, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Cook over moderate heat until the meat is lightly brown. Add the parsley and stir well for a few seconds. Remove from heat.
- Drain the minced meat mixture and knead the cracked wheat mixture very well. Take a little of this mixture and firstly shape it into a ball and then using a wet finger into tubular shape with thin sides. Make sure you dip your fingers in water every time as the dough is quite sticky.
- Make a hole at the top of each koupa and stuff it with some filling and then using your fingers seal it at the top.
- Deep fry koupes, a few at a time, in frying pan until golden brown.
- Always serve koupes with some fresh lemon quarters, Take a small bite, add a few drops of lemon juice and enjoy!
TIP: In Cyprus, there are two kinds of cracked or ground wheat (bulgur) - the coarse one suitable for pilaf and the thinner, finer one which is used for koupes and looks like semolina.If you can't find fine bulgur in your area and wish to give this recipe a try, you can use semolina.
Recipe slightly adapted from Cyprus Cooking for Friends by Sandra Lysandrou