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 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!
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.