They are one of the most famous recipes of Smyrna and Constantinople. The gialantzi dolmades (meat-free stuffed vine leaves) with béchamel sauce is one of the most promising appetizers or main dishes on a rich Greek table! Enjoy with a glass of Premium Chardonnay, which absorbs the acidity of the lemony béchamel!

In Cyprus they are known as koupepia (stuffed vine leaves) and are cooked with minced meat and tomato sauce. The Constantinopolitan dolmadakia, however, are different from the red koupepia and are white, due to béchamel sauce. The most common form of these stuffed vine leaves is meat free or ‘fake’, as the Constantinopolitans used to call them. You can also choose to make this recipe with minced pork or beef but also with cabbage leaves instead of vine leaves.

To make them requires time, love for cooking and also technique, as the wrapping up of the dolmades can be challenging, while at the same time the béchamel sauce requires some experience, too!


  • 750gr. ground beef
  • ½ cup rice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped and a little withered in olive oil
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • Mint and chopped dill
  • About 150 vine leaves (or as needed to fill a pot) in brine or fresh – if they are fresh then you should boil them in salted water for 2-3 minutes until they change colour, but do not overcook because they will not be easily wrapped
  • Salt & pepper

For the béchamel:

  • 4 tbsps butter
  • 3 tbsps flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup of stock from the food
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 lemons


  1. If the leaves are in brine, then rinse them. If the leaves are fresh then boil them in salted water for 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to overboil or they will break apart.
  2. Knead the minced meat with the chopped onion, rice, dill and mint, salt, pepper, olive oil and two egg whites. If there’s time ahead, we can leave the mixture in the refrigerator for an hour, to set.
  3. Carefully wrap the dolmades in the following way: open a vine leaf and place it with the ‘glossy’ side down. Carefully place a small amount of the mixture in the center with a teaspoon. Fold the right side inwards, then the left and at the end roll it from the bottom upwards.
  4. Place the dolmades in the pot: first cover the bottom of the pot in a circle and then place them in rows, creating layers.
  5. Fill the pot with water until covered and place a plate on top of the pot. It should be the same as the pot’s diameter.
  6. Boil for 20-25 minutes, over medium heat so that they do not overboil and break apart.
  7. While they are boiling, prepare the béchamel.
  8. Melt the butter in a saucepan and slowly add the flour; careful of the lumps. Add the salt and pepper. Stir over low heat with a whisk.
  9. Slowly add the milk and the stock from the boiled food, stirring constantly with the whisk until it thickens slightly. Do not add the milk and water all at once; instead watch how much liquid the mixture needs to form the right consistency.
  10. At the end, add the egg yolks, remove from heat and stir the mixture very quickly.
  11. Serve the dolmades with the béchamel sauce and a glass of Premium Chardonnay, which absorbs the acidity of the lemony béchamel!

*Recipes and dishes presented on the website are not applied in the winery’s restaurant “PLAYIA“.