Kuku is Persian version of Italian frittata with less eggs and more vegetables. Unlike frittata that is more like an open-faced omelet, kuku is usually thicker and the ingredients need to cook over low heat for best texture. For this reason kuku is cooked on both sides by inverting it onto a platter when one side cooks and then sliding it back into the skillet to cook the other side. This kuku is loaded with vegetables, it is called Kuku Bademjan or KooKoo Bademjan (eggplant), but it also has Kadoo (zucchini), Sibzamini (potato), Gojeh Farangi (tomato) and Piaz (onion). This vegetarian Kuku is wonderful for brunch, lunch or dinner. It is also great for picnics because it tastes amazing cold as well as warm.
A lifetime ago when I was living at home and didn’t spend much time cooking, this was one dish that I had learned how to cook because I absolutely loved it. My mom’s Kuku Bademjan, “badimjan kukuci” (kuku bademjan in Azeri) was amazing and loved by all who tried it. She would make it for different occasions from dinner parties to lunches. Lunch is the main meal of the day in Iran and dinner is a light meal, unless you’re at a dinner party which is usually pretty late in the evening and of course all the rules are broken and there is more food than anyone should really eat so late at night! But that is a different story and a different category which should be covered under “Iranian Culture” later!
But as I was saying, sometimes my mom used to make Kuku Bademjan when we were taking a road trip to Tehran or to the Caspian sea (Shomal, meaning North as we call it) in summertime and we made it into wraps with lavash or Sangak bread, which tasted awesome with Sabzi Khordan (fresh green herbs on the side of meals). I’m getting hungry and somewhat nostalgic just thinking about those days! There are several kuku recipes in Persian cuisine, another popular one is Kuku Sabzi, or Persian herb frittata.
Dice and fry the ingredients. Mix with the egg and spice mixture. Add to the skillet and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
Cover with a damkesh or a kitchen towel and cook over low heat until the top looks cooked. Remove from the heat and place an slightly larger platter over the skillet.
Use mittens to hold the platter and skillet together and invert the skillet. Now the top is up.
Carefully slide the kuku back in the skillet and cook over low heat until the other side is cooked.
Now enjoy the Kuku Bademjan with Sangak or a bread of your choice, with Sabzi Khordan (fresh herbs) or Salad Shirazi, and see what I’ve been talking about.
- 3 Italian eggplants or 3 medium Chinese eggplants
- 3 medium zucchini, unpeeled
- 5 medium white potatoes
- Dash of saffron to be sprinkled on the potatoes before frying (optional)
- 1 large onion peeled, sliced thin
- About ¾ cup vegetable oil for frying the vegetables (you might have some oil left over)
- 1 small Roma tomato, diced small
- 6 large eggs
- ½ tsp meat spice
- ½ tsp rice spice
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 TBSP vegetable oil
- 1 TBSP butter
- Heat ⅛ cup vegetable oil over medium heat, add the sliced onions and fry until golden brown. Remove the fried onions with a spatula and transfer to a large bowl. You will be using the same skillet for frying the rest of the vegetables.
- The vegetables are prepared and kept in separate bowls and will be fried separately.
- Meanwhile prepare the rest of the vegetables: Peel and dice the potatoes into ½ inch cubes, add to a bowl and toss with the optional saffron. Leave the skin on the zucchini and dice them into ½-inch cubes. Peel the eggplants and dice into ½ inch cubes.
- Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet (about ¼ cup) and heat over medium heat. Fry the cubed potatoes until golden brown. Use a spatula to transfer the potatoes to the fried onions in the large bowl.
- There should be some oil left in the skillet. Fry the cubed zucchini over medium heat until golden brown. Add a little more oil if needed. Add the fried zucchini to the large bowl.
- In the same skillet heat ¼ cup oil over medium heat. Add the eggplants and stir to coat. Cover the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the eggplants are tender. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the eggplants are golden brown. Add more oil if needed. Transfer the eggplants to the bowl. Set aside.
- Add the diced tomato to the fried vegetables in the large bowl and stir to combine.
- In a medium bowl whisk eggs, salt and the spices until foamy. Pour over the fried vegetables and stir to combine well.
- Rinse and dry the skillet. Heat 1 TBSP vegetable oil and 1 TBSP butter over medium heat.
- Add the Kuku mixture to the skillet and level the top with the back of a spoon.
- Place a damkesh on the lid and cover the skillet. You may also just cover the lid with a large kitchen towel instead. This is to prevent the moisture that builds up in the lid from dripping back into the Kuku and making it soggy.
- Place the covered skillet over medium low heat and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the surface seems cooked and is firm to touch. Remove the skillet from the heat.
- Put a round 12-inch platter over the skillet and invert the Kuku onto the platter.
- Carefully slide the Kuku back into the skillet from the platter, now the bottom is up. Cook for another 15 minutes without a cover on medium low, until the other side is golden brown.
- Invert the Kuku onto the serving platter and let it sit for 5 minutes before cutting it into 6 equal wedges.
- Serve warm with toasted Sangak or Lavash (Persian flat breads) or any bread of your choice. Serve someSabzi Khordan or Salad Shirazion the side. This Kuku is wonderful served cold in sandwiches and wraps also.
Fae's Twist & Tango says
I love, love, love your badimjan kukuci !!! I was drooling as I was reading your direction!
Thank you, thank you Fae! Yes this is one of my favorite Kuku recipes!
This was DELICIOUS. But, I must say I misjudged the size of “medium” eggplants, zucchini and potatoes, and soon realized I had cut enough veggies for at least 2 kuku’s, so I adjusted other ingredients accordingly. The meat and spice spices were wonderful. I will use them from now on….
Hi Nancy, I’m guessing you might have discovered that this kuku stores very well both in the fridge and freezer 😉 I’m so glad you liked this recipe and my spices. Thank you so much for letting me know, comments like this help me do my job that much better!
Can this recipe be made in a cast iron or baked in the oven?
Sara, you could use a cast iron skillet and bake it in the oven. The flipping technique suggested for the stovetop would not be as easy in a cast iron due to weight.
Your kuku bademjoun tasted like heaven!
Thanks a lot for sharing it!
So glad you liked it Eli; thanks for your nice message my dear! It is a pleasure to share my recipes with food lovers; please keep in touch!
I want to try to make this Kuku but I don’t have meat or rice spice, is that absolutely necessary? Can I use anything else instead? Also I noticed there is no flour used and wondered wouldn’t it be too liquidy?
Hello Roya; the mentioned spice blends are necessary to add flavor to this recipe, but you could substitute them with ground turmeric for meat spice and ground cinnamon and cumin for the rice spice. The ingredients in this recipe create a nice kuku texture and it does not need flour.
behzad amir-ansari says
I really enjoy reading your recipe however, I have tried to find one for Ashe saak to no avail. hope one of these days you will find time to post one!!!
Thank you dear Behzad; happy to hear from you! I will do my best to post your favorite aash recipe. Please keep in touch 🙂
Delicious recipe. Thank you for sharing it. Makes perfect dinner. I’ve made it twice so far. Next time, I’m going to add some crumbled feta cheese in the mix to give it some Tange.
Dear Shagnaz; thanks for writing to me! I love this recipe and I’m so glad that you feel the same way! Let me know how you like it with feta; I bet it will be very good! Have a great weekend and please keep in touch 🙂
NEGAR AMELI says
Salam Homa khanoom,
I wanted to try this recipe but had two questions:
1. what kind of white potatoes work best here? Is Russet one of them or are there better varieties?
2. the Meat Spice needed can be your ‘original’ one or Meat Spice II would work as well in this kookoo?
Salam Negar jan,
I use both russet and white for all of my recipes. I don’t like to use Yukon gold.
I usually use my original spice blend for this recipe. The #2 blend has different spices with different flavors, but if that’s what you have, go ahead and use it.
Golnoush Khaleghi Ackert says
Dear Homa , I discovered your website few months ago and was quite intrigued with your extensive Well written recipes. your meat and rice spice have joined my extensive spice rack and I use them often. You must have been an English major. I have been telling many people about you. Tonight I finally had a chance to Prepare one of your recipes completely. I made your Kuku Bademjan and it was phenomenal! I did add several cloves of crushed garlic, fresh thyme, rosemary and basil to the mix as well as the suggested barberi and walnuts. We served it al fresco with pomegranate seeds, sabzi khordan and fresh barbari bread. It was so satisfying and filling. My husband and I enjoyed it immensely. Thanks for this wonderful recipe. I am very fond of eggplant but have never had Kuku with so many additional veggies. You have a true winner here.
Good to hear from you Golnoush. Glad you like my spice blends; they are original family recipes. Thanks so much for telling your friends about my blog, I count on my followers to spread the word! I love that you’ve added your own herbs and garlic to my recipe. The herbs and spices are the heart and soul of Iranian cooking, and eggplant is the chosen vegetable 😉 Take care and please keep in touch!
I forgot to add the extra butter and oil before I started cooking with the eggs, and my kuku would not come out of the pan to flip. So it was not pretty at all, but the various chunks I salvaged tasted great. I don’t know why I can’t read the recipe right lately! I had a bunch of veggies and used my 12″ pan because I don’t have a 10″, don’t know if that contributed to the problem. The kids were definitely horrified though and wouldn’t even try it. They don’t like frittatas either so I guess I need to just keep trying!
Hi Allison, I can just imagine your children’s reaction to a new dish, not to mention all the veggies that will not let go of the skillet, lol!! Yes, that little butter and oil make all the difference. I’m sure your next kuku will easily invert onto the plate and the rest will be a piece of cake 😉 If you use more vegetables than recommended in the recipe you will need to increase the amount of eggs by 1 or 2 for proper binding. This does not mean it is not possible to make a larger kuku, I do that all the time. Enjoy your weekend! Lovely to hear from you as always!!
siavash Vakili says
hi Dear Homa
I’m Siavash living in Japan. Could you send me the recepie in Persian?
I would also like to know if it is possible to cut potatoes and add almond powder to the mix?
Dear Siavash, so happy to hear from you all the way from Japan 🙂
You could just leave out the potatoes and make this kuku with more of the other vegetables that I have mentioned. If you still want to add almond powder start with a small amount as I’m pretty sure it will change the texture of this kuku.
Unfortunately all of my recipes are in English, but I would be happy to answer any other questions you might have