Going egg kuku in the kitchen | Kitchen to Kitchen

Sidonie Maroon
Posted 4/29/22

This spring, I’m making lots of Kuku-ye Sabzi, a Persian egg dish popular for Norooz, the Iranian New Year, celebrated at the Spring Equinox. 

Egg dishes are popular throughout the …

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Going egg kuku in the kitchen | Kitchen to Kitchen

Kuku is a type of a type of open-faced baked omelet similar to the Italian frittata.
Kuku is a type of a type of open-faced baked omelet similar to the Italian frittata.
Photo courtesy of Sidonie Maroon
Posted

This spring, I’m making lots of Kuku-ye Sabzi, a Persian egg dish popular for Norooz, the Iranian New Year, celebrated at the Spring Equinox. 

Egg dishes are popular throughout the Middle East, and Iranians are especially fond of kuku, a type of open-faced baked omelet similar to the Italian frittata and the Arab eggeh. 

What’s so special about a kuku? Well, for one the name, it’s fun to watch the puzzled look on people’s faces when I tell them they’re eating kuku. They think I’m cuckoo, but after one bite, they’re hooked. 

Besides being delicious, the kuku is a great way to use seasonal greens, herbs, and all manner of vegetables. It’s like a crustless quiche, except it uses more vegetables and doesn’t call for cream, so they’re less of a custard, but still thick and fluffy. The spicing is exotic —using turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, coriander, and nutmeg. When done right, this makes for a delightful meal out of ordinary eggs. 

The Kuku-ye Sabzi, or herb kuku, uses walnuts in its batter, which gives a wonderful flavor and texture. I can’t think of another time when walnuts are in a savory egg dish?  

Serving the kuku: It’s baked in a round pie dish and flipped onto the serving plate. This makes a visually stunning “egg cake” that’s perfect for sprinkling herbs, scattering cranberries, or creating patterns with walnuts.  

There are many types. Some of the most popular are potato, eggplant, winter squash, fava bean, and zucchini. 

Your culinary kuku possibilities are endless. After making Persian kukus I’ve branched out and am trying other combinations using the same technique. I recently enjoyed one made with chickweed, dijon mustard, sauteed onions, and black pepper.

To create the perfect kuku-ye Sabzi, don’t be afraid of using lots of herbs, just make sure that they’re minced. Saute the onions long enough to bring out their sweetness. Don’t skimp on the fat; it’s needed for flavor and helps release the kuku. 

Preheat the pie dish in the oven with butter. Heating the dish helps create the golden crust. You can also toast the walnuts and cranberries in the preheating oven. 

Grind the spices with the other dry ingredients to create more bulk in the grinder. Use fresh, local eggs if possible.

More kuku thoughts: While I love the round shape, I’ve also made kuku in rectangular casseroles, or even for an enormous crowd on rimmed baking sheets. I can serve them at a potluck, brunch, or as snacks and lunches. They’re good out of the fridge, easy kid pleasers and a wonderful way to get more protein and veggies in without fuss. 

Looking for culinary challenges? 

I’ve shared three recipes on the Food Coop’s blog: A tortilla de patata, my version. A Savory Fennel and Rhubarb Quiche with Nouveau Baking Sweet Pastry Crust, you’ve got to taste this one: sweet Italian crust with a creamy savory RHUBARB! and fennel quiche. Hortopita/Greek green pie with a walnut rollable crust.  

Check out Vegetarian Indian Community Cooks — foodcoop.coop/community-cook — and download the free recipe packet with two complete vegetarian Indian menus to cook at home or with friends. 

Kuku-ye Sabzi

Makes one 9-inch-round kuku.

Herb kuku is a traditional Nowruz (Iranian New Year) dish celebrated at the Spring Equinox. The green of the herbs symbolizes rebirth, while eggs represent fertility for the year to come.

Equipment

9-inch round Pyrex or metal pie plate

Spice or coffee grinder

Ingredients

1/3 cup dried chopped cranberries

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

4 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for pie plate 

1 large onion cut into a small dice

6 large eggs

2 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped

1 cup baby spinach

1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup finely chopped fresh dill

Spices and dry ingredients

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon toasted and freshly ground cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander seeds

Seeds from 1 green cardamom pod 

6 black peppercorns 

1 tablespoon potato starch

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) Put the pie plate in the preheating oven, and add 1 tablespoon butter in a few minutes before adding the egg mixture.

In the preheated oven, toast chopped walnuts and dried cranberries separately from each other on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, for approximately 5 to 6 minutes. 

Toast the cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant and grind in a spice grinder with the other dry ingredients. 

Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the onions until golden. Chop the herbs and garlic while the onions cook.

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients and spices and beat in with a fork. Fold the garlic, spinach, herbs, walnuts, and sauteed onions in. 

Put the mixture into the heated, buttered pie dish and bake for 25 minutes or until the eggs set. 

Loosen the kuku’s edges with a knife. Cover with a plate and invert. Garnish with the chopped cranberries.

Serve hot or at room temperature with pita bread and yogurt.

(Sidonie Maroon is culinary educator at the Food Co-op; abluedotkitchen.com. Follow Sidonie on The Food Co-op’s Facebook group “Cooking with the Co-op.”)

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