Kuku Sabzi (Kookoo), Persian Herb Frittata. Kuku is the common name for a group of popular Persian food that are usually vegetarian, though a few kuku’s have meat in the recipe. Sabzi means herbs in Farsi, namely chives (tareh), cilantro (geshneez) and dill (shevid) are used in this kuku. Besides herbs, barberries (zereshk) and walnuts (gerdoo) are also used in this delicious Persian favorite. To describe kuku to someone who has never tried it, I would say it is similar to frittata. Well maybe that and quiche; but the latter usually has a crust and heavy cream. So I will stick with frittata. But frittata is basically an open-faced omelette that is made by frying vegetables with or without meat in the skillet and then adding beaten eggs and cooking it. On the other hand, the ingredients for kuku are usually prepared separately and then mixed with beaten eggs in a bowl and added to the skillet at the same time.
There are some similarities between kuku and frittata. For one thing, egg is used as the binding agent for all the different ingredients in both of them. They are normally disk shaped and are cut into wedges. Come to think of it, I have seen kuku baked in a square pan but never seen a square frittata. The other difference between the two dishes is the ratio of eggs to other ingredients, which is higher in frittata. Also there is usually some cheese that is melted on top of the frittata, and to this day I have not seen anyone add cheese to kuku. So if you want to know how similar or different the two are, you will really have to make this kuku recipe and then let me know what you think.
There are many recipes for Kuku Sabzi that use different combination of fresh herbs. I prefer to use garlic chives or scallions combined with cilantro and dill.
Add the herbs to a large bowl. Add eggs and the rest of the ingredients except for walnuts and optional zereshk in a separate medium bowl and whisk until well blended.
Add the egg mixture to the herbs and stir to combine
Then fold in the walnuts and zereshk.
Heat the oil in a nonstick 10-inch skillet, add Kuku Sabzi batter and gently press with the back of a spoon.
Press the walnut halves into the Kuku Sabzi batter, cover the skillet and cook
Until the top is looking like this and the sides are sizzling.
Remove the skillet from heat, cover it with a larger plate
Invert the kuku onto the plate
So one side is nice and golden brown
Now gently slide the Kuku Sabzi back in the skillet, cover and cook until the other side browns.
Serve Kuku Sabzi with toasted flat bread and a side of Salad Shirazi or Sabzi Khordan.
You might also enjoy this Kuku Bademjan recipe!
Prep time: 30 minutes active*
Cook time: About 1 hour
*The sliced chives need to air dry on the counter for 3-4 hours before cooking for best results.
- 4 cups sliced garlic chives (nira or tareh), or green parts of scallions
- ¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ cup chopped fresh dill
- 6 large eggs
- 2 TBSP Greek yogurt
- 1 TBSP flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp rice spice
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
- ¾ cup walnut halves
- 2 TBSP zereshk (barberries) optional
- 3 TBSP vegetable oil
- 1 TBSP unsalted butter
- Optional garnish: 6 walnut halves
- Pick through the garlic chives or scallions (green parts only) and use a sharp knife to slice them into ¼ inch pieces. Add the chives to a large bowl and fill with cold water. Change the water several times to make sure it is free of any dirt. Let the chives drain in a colander completely. Spread them on top of a large kitchen towel and air dry for 4-5 hours on the countertop. This will dry most of the moisture from washing. Do not skip this step. The drier the chives are before you cook them, the firmer texture the kuku will have. This step could be done a day in advance and once you can’t see any moisture on the chives, store them in a covered bowl or plastic bag in the refrigerator and use them the next day.
- Pick through and wash the cilantro and dill, and let them drain in a colander. Roughly chop them and add them to a large bowl. Add the prepared chives to the bowl.
- Toast the walnuts whole in a small skillet over low heat for 10 minutes, until it has a nutty aroma. Cool completely before coarsely chopping them. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl add the eggs, yogurt, flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Whisk for several minutes until uniformly blended.
- Add the egg mixture to the herbs. Use a wooden spoon to mix until all the herbs are well coated. Add walnuts and optional zereshk, stir to combine.
- In a nonstick 10-inch skillet heat the vegetable oil and butter over medium heat. The oil should be very hot but not smoking. Add the herb and egg mixture. Use a spatula to smooth the top and press down gently.
- Press down slightly the optional 6 walnut halves on the top with equal distance from each other. Cover the skillet and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for about 20 minutes. The top will look cooked and will be firm to touch and the edges will be sizzling. Remove from the heat.
- Remove the cover and place a 12-inch platter upside down over the skillet. Using two potholders carefully turn both the platter and the skillet together and invert the kuku onto the platter. The browned side will be up now.
- Reduce heat to low and slide kuku back into the same skillet with the cooked side up.
- Cover and continue cooking over low heat for another 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
- Invert the kuku onto the serving platter and use a sharp knife to cut it into 6 equal wedges. Serve with toasted flat bread and a side of Salad Shirazi.
Garlic chives (tareh in Persian cuisine, Nira with slightly narrower leaves, in Asian cuisine), has narrow leaves and is very closely related to the leek family. If unable to find this herb in the regular supermarkets you may substitute the green parts of the scallions instead and cut them into ¼-inch slices. The other option is to use leeks and cut them into ⅛-inch slices. Use only light-green and tender green parts of the leeks.
Rice Spice is a blend of cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg and optional dried rose petals.
Angela Hakimi says
Thank you! My husband is Persian and I am American and I try to make him his favorite meals- this was easy & tasty!!
Hello Angela, you’re welcome, that is so lovely! I am glad you liked this kuku recipe, and I hope you will find and try many other recipes on my blog that your husband likes! Thank you for your comment 🙂
How can you freeze kuku?
Hi Hilda, cut serving sizes of the kuku and freeze them in an airtight container. Place parchment paper between the layers and on the top layer. Defrost in the fridge for one day, or about 30 minutes at room temp, then reheat
My beloved Persian friend told me to try this dish so I ordered the zereshk from Amazon and it has arrived. However, I can’t seem to find edible rose leaves to make the rice spice. Amazon has rose leaves but they appear to be for making potpourri. I know you say rose leaves are optional, but I used a spice mix containing them in my lamb meatballs and it was delicious. Can you recommend a place to order the edible rose leaves?
Thanks a bunch!
Hello Cammie; I found this product online. It’s the dried rose petals of Gol Mohamadi, which is the only edible rose that grows in Iran and is used in fresh and dried form. Gol Mohamadi is also the rose that is used to make rose water. I have not tried this particular brand, since I’ve been getting mine from Iran. I’m interested in reading your feedback after you use this. Here is the link: http://www.sadaf.com/sadaf-rose-buds-13-0701/
Judy G. says
There are many on-line Persian groceries that can supply your needs for Persian cooking. It depends on where you are located as to what makes the most sense for you. Sadaf is in Calif. I use Persian Basketwhen I need to order on line. Lots of family in Northern Va. many Persian Groceries there. Obtaining ingredients soooo much easier now a days than 40 yrs ago when I wooed my Picky Persian.
I drove 3 hrs just to get Summac.
Khadijah Mavany says
Thank you ! This was an awesome recipe for Kuku Sabzi. I even used your kotlet recipe wich was the first time my kotlets didn’t break. Can you please post a recipe for jam made out of rose petals (morabah gol ) if you know?
Dear Khadijah, I’m glad you liked the kuku and kotlet. I will do my best to post a recipe for moraba ye gol; however, as you probably know the best moraba ye gol is made with fresh spring petals from rose gol mohammadi, which are available in our dear Iran. Thank you so much for writing to me. Please keep in touch 🙂
I just returned from Wholesome Choice to get my Sumac and spent a long time looking at herbs and the different waters flavored with herbs. I found your blog in researching how to use Ghormeh Sabzi and Kookoo sabzi. I am familiar with Punjabi food as my husband is a Sikh but not Persian. I guess you could say I am an international foodie, and like foods from around the world. I have made food from various mid eastern countries, and like it. I like fresh ingredients and eating healthy. I am forward to using your receipts. Thank you
Hello and welcome Cynthia; happy to have you here. I’m with you on that, I also enjoy good food from all over the world and cook it regularly. I hope you will let me know when you try my recipes; please keep in touch!
Hi We don’t have eggs so what can I use instead of eggs.
What can I use instead of eggs.
Dear Amita, egg is the binding substance that keeps all of the ingredients together, and there is no substitute.
I have made it quite successfully with chickpea flour whisked 1:2 with water in place of egg, not at all traditional but still delicious!
patricia sohrab says
Can i use frozen kuku veg for this dish please?
Patricia; I don’t recommend it. As you can see in the recipe, I have suggested to air dry the tareh to get rid of any possible moisture. Using frozen vegetables will result in a very mushy omelet and you won’t get the desired texture of kuku.
This kuku sabzi recipe is wonderful, what a unique blending of flavors! I have a similar frittata recipe from my Italian grandmother: 6 eggs, 1 finely minced red onion, 1/4 cup minced flat leaf parsley, 1/3 cup minced mint, sea salt, a little water if too thick. It is fried in a good, fruity olive oil, flipped onto a platter and transferred back to the pan to cook both sides. The frittata rises yet remains crisp and light. Also, have been adding Greek yoghurt to scrambled eggs for a lig and bright flavor.
Hello Agata; it’s wonderful to hear from you! I’m glad you like this recipe and I would love to read your feedback after you try it. Your grandma’s frittata sounds delicious; I’m going to try your recipe; I like the combination of parsley, onion and eggs very much! Yogurt in the scrambled eggs sounds like a winner. Thanks for writing to me; have a fantastic weekend!
Just had the most delicious brunch. Excellent recipe, super food. Thank you so much.
Glad you like this recipe Mrugank
This sounds so fabulous. Can it be cooked in the oven? Also I cannot eat dairy. Can I use an alternative nut milk yoghurt?
Hi Eileen, this is an amazing recipe and you’ll love it! Yes, you could bake this in the oven 375 oven for 30-40 minutes until the top is set. If you have a yogurt that you use in other baked recipes you could definitely use it here. You could also leave it out and use an extra egg yolk. Happy cooking 🙂
Johanna Pfalz says
I’m wondering if it is possible to make this dish in advance and freeze it? I’m worried it might turn soggy when thawed. thanks in advance for your advice.
Hi, yes this kuku freezes very well when stored in a proper container to avoid freezer burn. It is best to defrost completely in the fridge, or over the counter for 30-40 minutes. Then reheat on low heat, without oil, in a skillet. Good luck and happy cooking 🙂
Hi Homa, I have difficulty with flipping the Kuku over – it gets messed up sometimes and a bit watery (from the water used to disssolve the saffron). I have to cook the Kuku with the lid off. I was thinking about getting a 3.5 quart cast iron casserole dish (ie. Le Creuset casserole dish) to transfer from stove to oven to complete the cooking – start on the stovetop for 20 min or so and then to the oven for about the same time and maybe broiler for a few minutes at the end of the oven cooking to give the top a mild crispy look? Do you think this would lead to good results and less mess with flipping the kuku?
Hi Mikaela, my recipe does not have saffron, but if you wish to use it just add ground saffron powder to the whipped eggs instead of dissolving it in water. There will be some natural juice from the fresh herbs which cooks off. Air drying the herbs before chopping them is a necessary step for this kuku! Also, the lid must be on in the first part of the cooking so the herbs cook and get soft and are not crunchy.
You could try the combination stovetop/oven method that you have described, but the top and the entire thickness of the kuku must be completely set before placing it under the broiler, otherwise the inside will be mushy and will not set. Take care and let me know how these suggestions work for you
My family is Armenian from Salmast. My grandmother used to make kuku sabzi for us kids growing up in the US. This recipe brought happy tears remembering the good times in her kitchen. The tahdig recipe is also excellent, my mother tried teaching me but I never got it right until I followed your instructions. Thank you for sharing!
Hello Nyrie, so glad to hear from you and thanks for this heartfelt comment! It just feels wonderful to know that my recipes have brought back warm childhood memories to you. I am honored that my kuku reminds you of your dear grandma’s. Also congrats for the successful tahdig experience 😉
Please take care and keep in touch. Have a great weekend
You are the master but I suggest crushing the walnuts after roasting because they blend in more. Also I have had bad experiences with tumeric with kookoo with the outer side becoming not so great. Go very easy if you add it. FInally, I add parsley and lettuce again chopped.
Don’t exactly know what you mean by “outer side becoming not so great” But there is 1/2 tsp turmeric in this recipe and you can leave it out if you don’t like it.
The walnuts are chopped “Toast the walnuts whole in a small skillet over low heat for 10 minutes, until it has a nutty aroma. Cool completely before coarsely chopping them.
I limit the use of lettuce for salads and sekanjebin and do not care for it cooked in anything 🙁 However, you are also the master of your kitchen when you cook, so please do as you wish and have fun cooking 😉