Kookoo Sabzi – Fresh Herb Kookoo

Kookoo is also spelled KuKu and please don’t take this the wrong way but you will be coo coo not to try it.

As Dr. Seuss said: “If you never did eat kookoo you should. These kookoo things are fun and fun is good.” Alright, I’ll come clean, Dr. Seuss didn’t exactly say that, but I am pretty sure he would have, had he had occasion to sample a kookoo freshly made by an Iranian kadbanoo.

But what exactly is a kookoo? I like to picture kookoo as the love child of a quiche and a soufflé … they met cute and it happened, ok? But kookoo also bears a semblance of resemblance to a frittata, fritter, omelette or even a pancake! Let’s cut to the chase and call kookoo the Zelig of egg dishes.

But ultimately, kookoo is neither a quiche nor a soufflé nor a frittata or fritter or pancake. It is its own thing: a genre of Persian food made with whipped eggs mixed in with various types of vegetables and fresh and dried herbs, and sometimes with chicken or meat or even fish (kind of like a crab cake) and cooked either on the stove or in the oven. Variations abound! We have garlic kookoo, eggplant kookoo (one of my favorites – yum), green bean kookoo, potato, meat, and cauliflower kookoo, and a bunch more besides.

Of all these, Kookoo sabzi (green herb kookoo) is one of the most popular iterations, a year-round staple menu item that is also made specially for the Persian New Year because it is green and thus symbolizes growth and spring.

A good kookoo sabzi is a thing of beauty: fluffy, fragrant, hearty yet light, filled with nutrition, and absolutely delicious! The contrasting play of the tangy berberries and crunchy earthy walnuts in a bite of fluffy herb-infused kookoo sabzi, partaken with yogurt and some bread, is poised to delight even a persnickety palette.

But enough of just singing kookoo sabzi’s praise – let’s get cooking and make some!

Ingredients-Graphic-icon-illustrated-thumbnail-black-white

  • 2 cups (washed, trimmed, dried, chopped) parsley
  • 1 cup (washed, trimmed, dried, chopped) cilantro (aka coriander leaves)
  • 1 cup (washed, trimmed, dried, chopped) finely chopped chives (or scallions)
  • 2 leaves of crispy lettuce chopped (optional: lightens up the batter’s color)
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint + 1 teaspoon dried tarragon (can substitute 1 teaspoon of dried fenugreek for mint/tarragon)
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder – allow it to soak in a bit of water so that it bubbles
  • 5 eggs – left to reach room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (soaked for 5 minutes, rinsed, and dried) barberries plus extra for optional garnish
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped plus some extra for optional garnish
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Direction-Graphic-icon-illustrated-thumbnail-black-white

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet heat on high flame. Prior to the oil getting hot, add the chopped fresh herbs. (Parsley, cilantro, chives and lettuce.) Stirring constantly, sautee for a few minutes (approximately 5 minutes) until the herb mixture reduces in bulk and takes on a soft and pliant texture. Let cool completely. (This step is called “taft dadan eh sabzi” in Farsi and the goal is to rid the herbs of any excess moisture to prevent a soggy kookoo and get a fluffy and thick one instead.)
  2. In a big bowl crack the eggs. Add flour, salt and pepper. Beat lightly with a fork. Add chopped sauteed fresh herbs, dried mint & dried tarragon (or dried fenugreek), dried dill, chopped walnuts, barberries, baking powder, turmeric, and the sauteed herbs. Mix well.
  3. Heat at least 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a big pot – you can use the same one used earlier to sautee the herbs – just wipe it with a paper towel to remove any residues. Once the oil is hot enough (you can tell this is so when a tiny dollop of the mixture puffs up when dropped into the pot) pour in the entire mixture, lightly press the batter with a spatula or spoon to make the surface even, and cook, covered (ideally with a glass lid so you can see the batter) for 10-12 minutes on medium heat until the bottom of the batter coagulates and is set. Using the edge of a spatula, cut kookoo into 4 wedges and flip each wedge over to cook the other side. (Add a couple more tablespoons of oil at this point if necessary.) Continue to cook – uncovered this time – on medium heat for approximately 5-7 more minutes until the batter is evenly cooked throughout. Place on a serving platter, garnish with sauteed barberries and walnuts, and serve. [ Alternative method: Instead of frying the batter on the stove top, you can bake it in the oven. To do so: preheat the oven to350 °F, pour the kookoo batter into an oiled heatproof dish, and bake uncovered for 20- 25 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the kookoo to loosen and invert onto a serving dish. Cut into wedges or squares, garnish, and serve.]
  4. For the garnish: heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a small skillet over a medium flame, add sugar (optional, skip it if you like tangy flavor like we do) and 1 tablespoon of barberries, and stir well for just under and no longer than a minute. Sprinkle barberries over the kookoo when it’s ready to serve.

 ServingGraphic-icon-illustrated-thumbnail-black-white

kookoo sabzi is good either hot or cold, and makes for a tasty lunch or dinner, either as a light entree. or a side dish, or an appetizer. It is customary to serve kookoo sabzi with yogurt and bread and sabzi khordan (platter of fresh herbs.)

“Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.” Dr. Seuss

Make it, enjoy it, and noosheh jan, we say!

Fun Fact: Kookoo sabzi was one of dishes served at the White House Passover dinner this year.

22 thoughts on “Kookoo Sabzi – Fresh Herb Kookoo

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  2. This sounds delicious, especially as I’m really into herbs at the moment. Oddly, I have a recipe from several years ago called herb eggeh – not dissimilar. Can’t remember where it’s from, though.

    • Hi Johnny – you really should try it then I can say with confidence you will love it – specially if you have it with yogurt. It is light but also rich if that makes sense and if you’re into herbs theses days, well then, there you go, match made in heaven. Let me know if you make it and what you make of it! Thank you for visiting! -azita

  3. I was going through your blog and I just love the way you present our culture. You have a gift for writing also. From the looks of it, a gift for cooking too ;)

    • Dorood hamavatan & sepas! A huge motivation in starting and keeping this blog is to help portray a balanced view of our glorious and ancient culture, so getting a stamp of approval in that regards is just an enormously meaningful and encouraging feedback. Yek donya tashakor and soragheh mah biyayeed dobareh! :)

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  5. I have never heard of Kookoo but it sounds so interesting. Frying the batter on the stove sounds so intriguing. Looks delicious!

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  9. hey there!

    I am half Iranian & half american and I just wanted to let you know your blog really makes me feel close to my Iranian heart*soul*mind. It helps soothe that burning yearning to jump in a flight right this second thats heading straight to Iran.

    Today I was feeling especially inspired by your kuku post, and decided what the heck Ill give it a go! Im 22, and have had been blessed with 22 years of Iranian food (buying out, family preparing, etc) but I have not often tried my own hand at it, especially Kuku.

    But today all that changed.I used your recipee and it came out amazing. I used yellow raisons and almonds as a subsitute, nevertheless, it was delicious! (and my bf, who is not Iranian, liked it too!)

    much love to ya!

    p.s. try a pinch of lime or lemon next time. I put some in and it gave a nice kick!! 

    • Hi dear asya! First, I love your name! Second. I also fight a burning desire to jump in a plane and head to Tehran, so I completely relate – oh so much. And finally, I’m thrilled (filled with warm and fuzzy feelings) to read that this blog makes me feel close to your Iranian side. I can’t wait to share it with my mom and I mean this is why the work on this blog is ultimately so worth it. I’m also really happy to read that you first foray into Persian food came out well. Kuku sabzi was a great choice, it’s delicious and not that fussy, and I like the idea of using yellow raisins instead of berberis. It will be a sweeter version but still really balanced with the walnuts and herbs and sounds delicious and I’ll have to give it a try myself, plus that kick of lime/lemon you recommend.

      Anyway asya jan, noosheh jan, and just know that you comment made my day and has planted a firm smile on my face! : ) Much love back to you too! and p.s. if you or your family ever feel like writing a guest post recipe on this blog, I’d be more than delighted, and just give a holler!

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