Savoury Meat Doughnuts (“Koupes”) … Not As Hard As I Thought! | AΦRODITE's KITCHEN | A Cyprus Food Blog

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It is almost the end of August. In the last few days, the weather has begun to turn ever so slightly. It’s telling me that autumn is around the corner. In no way has my cooking begun to reflect this shift. Nope. I have been going out for ice cream cones basically every other day.

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It’s funny to visit a place you remember most vividly from when you were 18. Most of my food memories revolve around where the good ice cream places are. And that’s exactly what I like to check off my list when I am here. Every other day, I revisit an old ice cream haunt, comparing their cones to the cones I remember from my childhood. I swear the cones have gotten larger. Not that I am complaining. In addition, I have been helping my parents around the house quite a bit. So I haven’t really had too much time in the kitchen. Except yesterday. Yesterday my mom and I decided to make a Cypriot traditional recipe called “koupes” which are sort of like a meaty-falafel.

I have to say that I have been dreading making “koupes” and saved it as a recipe “I would make with mom” because every time I told someone I was going to make “koupes” they would tell me “it is really, really hard“. So I kind of became scared of making “koupes”. Which is a bit silly to be scared of meat-filled bulgur wheat. In reality what I discovered is that it is time consuming and a bit finicky but not hard or impossible in any way. What I noticed is that – in contrast to the store bought “koupes” – these ones had a much crispier outside texture – almost crunchy. The center is the same: savoury meat filling spiced with cinnamon and cumin.

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We almost didn’t add the cumin, but it really is what made these “koupes” stand out in my opinion. In addition, I was trying to figure out why “koupes” bought from a store have a smoother texture on the outside, but my only conclusion was that they must use less bulgur wheat and more flour which probably also saves on money or they pulse the bulgur wheat mixture in a food processor to make it smooth (a technique I might try the next time with some of the bulgur wheat mixture).

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When you cook the “koupes” they actually continue to taste good the next day – just store them in a bowl with plastic wrap on top. The outside is a little less “crunchy” the next day, but I liked that. It was as though you were eating a different – but just as tasty – type of snack. I might not make these all the time simply because of the time they take, but I definitely will be making them again. They are tasty and differ to the store-bought “koupes” – the homemade “koupes” taste a bit healthier too.

Some tips I noticed: you really need to make sure the texture of the bulgur wheat is correct – if it is too dry, then it won’t enclose the meat properly as it won’t be sticky enough. But if you add too much water, then you will have difficulty frying them and the taste will get diluted. So add a little bit of water slowly until you start to see the consistency showed in the pictures in the “recipe” part below. Make sure you use “fine” bulgur wheat . Also, we experimented with a lot of different techniques to make the “koupes”.

koupes-2351There is no “right” or “wrong” way. If you find a technique that works for you, just use that. I preferred to shape my “koupes” into oval-like spheres (see the not-so-pretty-plate-picture in the “recipe” section below) instead of longer pointy-tube shapes and in the end, the chubbier oval-like spheres worked much better in the oil as they did not crack. Another trick is to add a drop of water to your hands before picking up a walnut sized amount of the bulgur mix to shape it. This will make the bulgur wheat easier to work with. Finally, I was thinking about whether or not to use chick-pea flour instead of regular flour to make the “koupes”. I think it would add an interesting flavour and I might just do that next time in case you want to try it out! Enjoy! I am still in ice-cream mode, so will probably get back to regular posting come September! Happy Summer Days, Ice Cream Breaks and “Koupes” cooking! xxx

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akstampLevel of Difficulty: 5/5
Preparation Time: about 3 – 4 hours
Cooking Time: each “koupe” is fried for about 5 minutes (until golden brown)
Makes about 27 “koupes”

ingredients

for the shell
2 cups Fine Bulgur Wheat
1 & 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp white pepper

for the filling (I made a lot of filling. This yields about 1.5 cups of extra filling which can be enjoyed on its own.)
500g lean ground pork
3 tbs olive oil for frying
1 finely chopped large onion
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tbs finely chopped fresh mint
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp all spice
2 tbs toasted pine nuts
salt & pepper to taste

vegetable oil for frying (3 inches deep)

recipe

1. Prepare the bulgur wheat mixture. In a large bowl add the bulgur wheat, salt and boiling water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 1.5 to 2 hours until the bulgur wheat absorbs the water. Toast the pine nuts in a small pan on the stove. Once toasted, leave the pine nuts to the side to cool.

2. In the meantime, prepare the filling. Heat the olive oil, add the onion and cook and stir until the onion is soft. Then add the pork, and stir fry until it is cooked and the liquid released has evaporated. Then add the toasted pine nuts, parsley, mint, cumin, cinnamon, all spice and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Once the bulgur wheat mixture is ready, add the cinnamon, flour and white pepper. Mix together well. Then begin to prepare the “koupes”. Add a drop of water to your hands and rub them together. Pick up about a walnut sized amount of the bulgur wheat mixture. The bulgur wheat mixture will crack a tiny bit when you spread it out into your hand, but it should be wet enough that it comes together like in the pictures. You may need to add a little bit more water if this is not the case.

4. Flatten the walnut sized scoop of bulgur wheat mixture into the palm of your hand. Curl your hand to form a little bowl shape and add a teaspoon of filling. Add a little bit more bulgur wheat mixture on top of the meat. Then with both hands form a small little oval-sphere ball. Make sure the sphere is tightly packed otherwise the “koupe” might fall apart when you fry it. Place the “koupe” in a plate. Prepare all the “koupes” the same way.

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5. Heat the vegetable oil to a high temperature, it should be about 3 inches deep. Add one “koupe” at a time, rolling them occasionally in the vegetable oil to make sure the “koupe” becomes golden brown all the way around.

6. Once the “koupe” is golden brown, remove it, and place it on paper towel to soak up the excess vegetable oil.

 

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16 Comments

  1. Your koupes look lovely Christina! Don’t you love it when you realize something is not as difficult as you thought? I have never heard of that name, koupes, to be honest, but again, I am not terribly familiar with Cypriot cuisine.
    I smiled when I saw the name πουργούρι on the packet of bulgur wheat as I had no idea the Cypriot name was so different from the Greek name. In Greek, the name is πλιγούρι. Love how I get to find out more things about Cyprus and the Greek-Cypriot dialect through your blog!
    Hope you have a great rest of summer and I look forward to your new posts in September! xoxo

    • afroditeskitchen

      Thanks Magda! xx 🙂 Yup, I totally agree! I was waiting for the difficulty/frustration of a hard recipe to set in, but I think it is just the rolling which is time consuming but OK! haha, that’s funny about the words. My first boyfriend was a Greek guy so when I first learned to speak Greek it was proper Greek, and then when I would try to speak with my relatives they would find it funny that I didn’t know the Cypriot words. But now I don’t know the Greek words! Enjoy the rest of the summer and speak soon! xxxx

  2. Loving this post! I’m gonna try to make this. I love koupes. When I first moved to Cyprus, I had to eat this everyday!

    • afroditeskitchen

      Thanks Mary! I hope the recipe works out well for you! I LOVE snacking on “koupes” too, so hard to resist when walking into a bakery!! xx

  3. Love this – my husband adores Koupes. Will try using Quinoa or Amaranth to make it
    Gluten-free

    • afroditeskitchen

      Thank you! I think quinoa would be really interesting to use in this recipe. You could also try using chickpea flour too as a substitute for the flour? I hope the variation works out well! xx

  4. Sarah lee

    Hello my dear, finally I found this reciepe. We’ve been several times in Cyprus and my friend is beging me since a long time to make koupes. I believe we also had chicken koupes in Cyprus. Would you maybe have the reciepe for that? Kind regards to Cyprus Sarah Lee

    • afroditeskitchen

      Hi Sarah, I don’t have the recipe for chicken koupes but I don’t see any reason why you can’t just make the recipe above for pork koupes and substitute chicken mince for the pork mince?

  5. This look great – do you reckon they would freeze well (prior to cooking?)

    • afroditeskitchen

      Yes, I think so! Good idea considering how much work is involved in making them!

    • afroditeskitchen

      Hi Jem – sorry for the delay in replying! I don’t know actually because if you freeze them and they have water on them and then deep fry them later the water might splash a lot? I would make a lot and then maybe freeze the ones you made?

  6. Claire Timms

    What happened to the pine nuts? You didn’t include them in the method

    • afroditeskitchen

      Hi Claire – good point, thanks! I’ve added them above – it works best when you toast the pine nuts separately at the start, and then add them into the filling mix!

  7. Loulla

    I make koupes all the time for my restaurant kosmos Taverna in Manchester, in the pougouri (cracked wheat) I also add grated onion and one boiled mushed potato. I also freeze them and fry them from frozen.

    • afroditeskitchen

      ooo that sounds good! I must try that. Do you make loukoumades? I have heard people add potato into that when they make them in Cyprus!

  8. Kyriacos Menicou

    Hi Christina,
    Love the recipe, slightly different from my mum’s. My background is similar to yours and wondered if you could let me have your email address for correspondence
    Kyriacos

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