A traditional Persian frittata dish, densely packed with fresh herbs with a crunch provided from walnuts and a little tartness from barberries in each mouthful. This delightful dish is commonly eaten during Persian New Year celebrations (Norooz).
What is Kuku Sabzi?
Kuku Sabzi is a frittata-style dish traditionally made with eggs, turmeric, coriander, parsley, dill, chives, barberries and crushed walnuts. It is usually fried and then sliced into triangles. You can serve it either hot or cold as a starter, side dish or a main course. It can be accompanied with bread or rice and either yogurt or salad.
The key difference between a kuku and a frittata is the egg to vegetable ratio, with the kuku favouring the latter.
Kuku Sabzi and Norooz
Kuku Sabzi is eaten during the celebrations for Persian New Year (‘Norooz’). Norooz is the day of the vernal equinox, and marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It usually falls on 21 March each year. This festival dates back over 3000 years and is rooted in the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism.
It is estimated that Norooz is celebrated by over 300 million people including communities in Afghanistan, the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Turkey, Parsis in India, and their related diaspora around the world.
The herbs in Kuku Sabzi symbolise rebirth, and the eggs symbolise fertility. We serve it alongside Sabzi Polo ba Mahi (Persian herbed rice and fish).
How this Recipe Differs
- This version of Kuku Sabzi is baked, which makes for a healthier dish.
- British chives are not as spicy as Iranian chives so replace these with the green ends of spring onions.
- The addition of baby spinach leaves results in a bright green kuku.
As with the traditional recipe, barberries are added to the kuku mixture. This gives a tart burst of flavour from the berries with each bite. You can buy barberries from most Middle-Eastern food shops or, alternatively, buy them online. I also add coarsely ground walnuts to the mixture to give a little crunch to the kuku.
Some Tips for cooking Kuku Sabzi
To prepare the herbs, wash them and remove the toughest parts of the stems. There is no need to remove all the leaves from all the stems if you have a food-processor to chop the herbs finely for you. Dill and parsley will require a bit more time removing the tough stems unlike coriander which you can usually chuck in and blitz.
Silicon baking moulds are excellent for baking kuku but if you don’t have any, use a standard muffin tin but make sure you grease and line it properly.
How to serve Kuku Sabzi
Serve alongside vibrant Beetroot Borani (yoghurt and beetroot dip) as pictured. You can find the recipe for this delicious dip here.
Kuku Sabzi Instagram Reel
- 100 g fresh parsley (washed and tough stems removed)
- 100 g fresh coriander (washed and tough stems removed)
- 100 g fresh dill (washed and tough stems removed)
- 5 spring onions (green ends only)
- 1 handful baby spinach leaves
- 3 tbsp olive oil (1 tbsp for greasing your muffin tin, 2 tbsp for the kuku mixture)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 cloves garlic
- Zest of 1 lime
- 6 large free range eggs
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1 tbsp self-raising flour (heaped tbsp)
- 1 tbsp dried barberries (optional)
- 1 tbsp ground walnuts (to garnish - optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 160°C (fan) / 180°C (conventional) / Gas Mark 4.
- Take a 12-hole muffin tin, grease (using 1 tbsp olive oil) and line holes with baking paper. Brush a little olive oil into each recess after lining and leave to one side until ready to use.
- Put herbs, spinach and spring onion ends into food processor and pulse until the herbs are finely chopped. Then add eggs, turmeric, garlic, lime zest, olive oil, self-raising flour, salt and pepper and pulse food processor until fully incorporated.
- Add barberries and coarsely chopped walnuts (if using) to the mixture and stir.
- Take muffin tin and spoon the mixture evenly between the 12 holes.
- Place in oven for 25 mins. To check if the kuku are done, use a thin skewer / tip of a knife to check one by gently poking to the bottom. It should come out clean.
- Serve warm or cold, sprinkled with ground walnuts and barberries alongside a salad, dips and bread as part of a mezze-style meal.