Kookoo Sabzi II – Persian Herb Kookoo (an encore presentation)

Kuku sabzi Persian herb kookoo recipe azita houshiar

Kookoo Sabzi (Persian Herb Kuku) garnished with walnuts & radishes

One of the earliest posts on Fig & Quince was a recipe for kookoo Sabzi, a very popular type of Persian kookoo that is enjoyed year round and is also among the traditional foods served during Noroozthe Persian New Year’s 2 weeks long celebration — because it is green and thus symbolizes growth, renewal and spring.

What exactly is a kookoo? As I wrote earlier, I like to imagine kookoo as the precocious love child of a quiche and a soufflé. The Zelig of egg dishes: because it bears a semblance of resemblance to a frittata, fritter, omelette or even a pancake!

But ultimately and in a nutshell, kookoo refers to a genre of Persian food made with whipped eggs which then are folded in with various ingredients. In Iranian cuisine, we have garlic kookoo, eggplant kookoo (one of my favorites – yum), green bean kookoo, potato kookoo (delicious with candied turnips), meat kookoo, cauliflower kookoo, and a bunch more besides. Variations abound! Kookoos can be served as an appetizer, a side dish, or a light meal. Since they travel well, most versions of kookoo are also quite popular as picnic fare.

Kuku Sabzi batter: chopped herbs, walnuts & berberries folded into lightly whipped eggs

Kuku Sabzi batter: chopped herbs, walnuts & berberries folded into lightly whipped eggs

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, when partaken with yogurt and some bread, is poised to delight even a persnickety palette. [Fun Fact: Kookoo sabzi was one of dishes served at the 2012 White House Passover dinner.]

Recently I had occasion to avail myself of the goodness of this lovely kookoo and it occurred to me to repeat the recipe for those of you who may have missed it earlier – because it’s just too good a recipe to miss tasting and having in your repertoire, and because as Doctor Seuss said: “If you never did eat kookoo you should. These kookoo things are fun and fun is good.”

Persian food Kuku Sabzi Persian Green Herb Kookoo

Doctor Seuss said: “Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.”

Let’s not just sing 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
Kuku Sabzi recipe batter Persian Green Herb Kookoo recipe

Persian Green herb Kookoo batter with berberries

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

  1. In a skillet, sautee chopped herbs in 2 tablespoons of sizzling cooking oil of your choice 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. Crack eggs in a big bowl; add flour, salt and pepper; and 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 skillet. Once the oil is sufficiently hot (i.e, a dollop of the mixture puffs up when dropped into the pot) pour the into skillet and lightly press the top with a spatula or spoon to evenly spread out the mixture. Cook covered (ideally with a glass lid so you can see the batter) for 10-12 minutes on medium low heat until the batter is cooked on its bottom side. Cut kookoo into 4 wedges (with the edge of a spatula) and flip each wedge over to cook the other side. (Add more 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. [ Alternative method: Instead of frying the batter on the stove top, you can bake it in the oven. To do so: preheat the oven to 350 °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, cut into wedges or square pieces and invert onto a serving dish to serve.]
  4. For the garnish: heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil till hot in a small skille, then gently saute berberries and sugar (or skip sugar if you prefer a tangy accent as we do) for just (and no longer than) one minute. Sprinkle barberries over the kookoo when it’s ready to serve. You may also sautee some walnuts as well for the garnish if you wish.
  5. Once the Kuku is nicely cooked, place on a serving platter, garnish with sauteed barberries and walnuts, and serve.

Kookoo-batter11

 Note re chopping herbs:

For best results and to prevent a soggy kookoo, allow herbs to dry completely after being washed and rinsed. Once herbs are absolutely dry, chop on a wooden board with a sharp knife.

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!

Noosh jan Nush e jaan Persian calligraphy illustration

49 thoughts on “Kookoo Sabzi II – Persian Herb Kookoo (an encore presentation)

  1. Yes I love Kookoo sabzi, one of my all time favorites, so easy to make and so delicious. I love to eat either torshi or a simple cucumber tomato salad and warm pita or flatbread with my kookoo and a big glass of icy cold doogh!!

      • ciao! i just have to have kookoo. often, i make a very simple frittata with feta and dill, when not much else is in the fridge. kookoo will be a wonderful option…walnuts must make this so delicious. i am stocking on the ingredients. great post.
        thebestdressup

  2. This sounds delicious and light and lovely, like a good spring supper! I do have a question, though. Since you are using so many gorgeous fresh herbs, why use dried mint? Why not fresh? Availability? The minimal amount? Just curious!

    • Good question! You totally could use fresh mint but my mom uses dried mint for convenience – as do many others – as it is a staple ingredient in a Persian pantry and will all the washing and chopping of fresh herbs that this recipe requires, it’s just a shortcut that won’t compromise taste or flavor.

  3. I <3 Sabzi Kuku! It's my fave. I peek in at every post and love your blog. I don't comment much and haven't been blogging since I am back to work but wanted you to know how much I appreciate the little reminders of my heritage. :)

    • Thank you so much for the wonderful pat on the back. I needed it! Also, agreed, kuku sabzi is the best. It’s amazing how nuanced and sophisticated the flavor and the texture of it is. Our people did know how to cook! zendeh bad Iran!

  4. oh I love this so much but making it myself has never really figured in the equation, I had it at persian friends home, made from scratch using fresh herbs chopped by hand, and really that fresh herb taste with the thick egg is so delicious that I havent had the heart to try at home. Also needs so much work until the herbs are ready. Shame no persian friends ex-us!

    • Hi, thank you for your comment and oh yes, all the chopping by hand is a bit of work. Keep your eyes peeled for some Persians! We are all over the place! ;)

  5. What a quirky name for a dish – LOVE it! Always so curious and happy to learn about new dishes such as this one Azita. In fact I’m always in complete awe of the recipes you share, along with the culture and history behind them. Your Kookoo Sabzi looks delicious!

    • You always say the nicest things Margot! Don’t stop! ;) & agree kookoo (also spealled kuku) is a funny name – even in Farsi (because “ko” means where? so it kind of sounds like you’re saying: “where?” “where?”)

      xo

  6. Lovely! I had been recently trying to find the name and recipe for a dish I had once when lunching with an Iranian family many years ago. It was a delicious fluffy egg dish with spinach and nuts in it. I finally found the name, I guess.

    • This has got to be what you had Ahila – I can’t think of another dish that bears a closer proximate resemblance. So the question is: are you going to roll up your sleeves and make it? ;)

      • Yes, I have already bookmarked it. :) I will be making it during one of the days my sister visits as those at home have stopped eating eggs for quite some time.

  7. This is probably going to be similar to the comment I may have left on your other post. There’s a recipe on my HD called something like herb eggeh…just checked the spelling. Anyway, I’ve been meaning to make that for years! Still haven’t. Must make more of an effort…

    • It’s one of those things that’s good in the brrrr cold of winter here and would also be lovely in your awesome warm summer. Maybe you’ll give it a try?

  8. I just love the name ‘kookoo’, I know it’s traditional but it still makes me smile! As always, yours looks gorgeous. Love that deep green goodness, the golden exterior, the delicious spices. Yum. I need to make one of these as soon as possible, I have so many recipes on your site that I still want to try… it’s my mission for this year! xx

    • Ha, just responded re the funny name of the dish to Margot and agree it’s a quirky name even in Farsi because “ko” means “where?” so it kind of sounds like you’re saying: “where?” “where?” when you say kookoo

      love whenever you visit Laura!

    • Are you kidding? In your masterful hands, dear Fae, I can only imagine the heights kookoo will soar. & now you’ve put that song into my head so let’s go and have “some tea for two” ;) xo

  9. I enjoyed reading the background of the recipe and your memories of it! It looks like a very flavorful and well-executed dish. I can’t think of one of the ingredients that I don’t like. Plus, it looks to be vegetarian. Have a great day – Shanna

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  11. The Zelig of egg dishes! Great definition, Azita! A great concept in just a few words. Yes, I can see the resemblance to frittata but your dish is so much more. I love it and the combination of spices sounds divine! :-)

  12. I have never heard of kookoo before – the whipped eggswith the spinach, barberries and walnuts and spices sounds fantastic – and the fact that it is good hot or cold is a bonus!

  13. Oh my goodness. I missed this post. Beautiful. I’m glad you redid it so I could see. What a great recipe. Love the fresh herbs. I think the Jerusalem cookbook has a similar recipe that I’d been eyeing. This is great. The turmeric probably gives it a really earthy flavor.

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