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Summer Kuku served with a Pea, Mint and Feta Dip

Kale and red pepper kuku with a pea, mint & feta dip

This recipe is pure summer on a plate! A light and easy meal – I often cook it the night before we want to eat it and store it in the fridge. It can be eaten warm or cold and it is a great way to get a hit of goodness into you.

Kuku (also spelled ‘kookoo’) is an egg-based, vegetarian dish from Iran made with beaten eggs, folding in various ingredients. It is similar to the Italian frittata, the French quiche or an open-faced omelette, but it typically has more vegetables than its Western counterparts. It is served either hot or cold as a starter, side dish or a main course, and is accompanied with bread and either yogurt, salad and / or rice. The two most well known kuku recipes are Kuku Sabzi (made with herbs and barberries and / or walnuts); and Kuku Sibzamini (made with potatoes). Ultimately, you can make kuku with any vegetables you like.

This kuku recipe materialised after an Oddbox delivery. Oddbox is a wonderful company that rescues surplus or imperfect vegetables and fruit, which would otherwise not make it to the shopper, and offers it by way of a home delivery subscription services. My medium-sized box of delights is delivered fortnightly. It’s a fantastic initiative that helps me to eat more vegetables and fruit, while helping to save our planet. It is also been great for challenging my recipe ideas as sometimes I can fall into the routine of buying the same ingredients and cooking the same recipes.

One of my Oddbox deliveries had some kale and red peppers, which lead me down the path of experimenting with the medium of kuku. Kale has become very popular in the UK due to the health benefits. Our supermarkets are always well-stocked with kale and red peppers, potatoes and red onions – the vegetables used to cook this dish. I use garlic, smoked paprika and chillies for the aromatic notes, which results in a smoky and gently warming feel to eating this even when eaten cold.

Traditionally kuku is fried and flipped over to brown on the other side, but I prefer to oven bake mine so the recipe below is geared towards baking but feel free to fry it if you prefer, either omelette-style or like fritters.

The beauty of kuku is that you can make a batch one evening and have it as a quick lunch on your working days. It is also a well-loved addition to a mezze-style meal or served with bowls filled with lots of antipasti (as pictured) in my family.

I have paired this kuku recipe with a pea, mint and feta dip, making the overall experience fresh, light and summery.


Summer Kuku served with a Pea and Mint Dip

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Main Course, lunch
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian, Fusion
Keyword: light lunch, mezze, frittata, kookoo
Servings: 2 (to 4 people)
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

Kuku

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (and a little to grease your tin)
  • 200 g potatoes (diced into 1 cm cubes)
  • 1 medium / large red onion (finely diced)
  • 1 red pepper (medium diced)
  • 75 g kale (removed from stalks, washed and roughly chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tbsp tomatoe purée (dissolved in 100ml of water)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 small red chilli (minced)
  • 6 large free range eggs (cracked and beaten in a bowl)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Pea and mint dip

  • 2 cups peas (frozen is fine - blanch them in boiling water before blending into the dip)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 40 g feta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (plus extra to drizzle on top)
  • 10 leaves fresh mint (plus extra to chop and garnish the dip with)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (fan) / 180°C (conventional) / Gas Mark 4.
  • Take a cake tin (20 cm diameter) (preferably one without a loose base as the egg is likely to seep out unless you properly cover the gaps with baking paper). Grease and line the tin with baking paper. Place the tin in the oven to heat up.
  • Take a frying pan, place on a medium / high heat and add 2 tbsp of oil.
  • Add the potatoes and cook until the potatoes start to turn golden and little crispy.
  • Add the peppers and onions and cook until they soften.
  • Add the garlic, smoked paprika, chilli and stir until evenly distributed.
  • Add the tomato purée and water to the mixture.
  • Then add the kale and cook until wilted and the mixture has little or no liquid. then turn off the heat and let cool for 10 mins.
  • Take the beaten egg mixture and add the vegetable mixture and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the tin from the oven and pour the mixture in. Then place in the oven to cook for about 30 to 40 mins (or until a knife poked into the middle of the kuku comes out clean)
  • To make the dip, blend all the dip ingredients in a food processor and pour into a serving bowl. Feel free to adjust seasoning and lemon juice to taste. Scatter a little finely chopped mint on top and drizzle with a little olive oil.
  • Serve the kuku warm or cold with the dip, flatbreads and other antipasti type dishes or as part of a mezze-style meal.

A Baluchi-Style Breakfast (Chickpea Curry and Parathas)

This chickpea curry served with parathas and fried eggs is a great addition to your weekend brunch catalogue of recipes. Make this recipe the night before and just re-heat if you want a lie-in and a lazy morning.

Sistan and Baluchestan

My journey to discover more about the cuisine of Iran has led me to Sistan and Baluchestan in the South-East of Iran. It is the second largest province of the 31 provinces of Iran, after Kerman Province.

The province borders Pakistan and Afghanistan and has a population of 2.5 million, which the majority are Baloch. They mainly inhabit mountainous terrains which has allowed them to maintain a distinct cultural identity and resist domination by neighbouring rulers. Approximately 20-25% of the worldwide Baloch population live in Iran. The majority of the Baloch population reside in Pakistan, and a significant number (estimated at 600,000) reside in southern Afghanistan. Baluchestan of Iran has been regarded as the most underdeveloped, desolate, and poorest region of the country.

A Spicier Cuisine

The food from the Southern Provinces of Iran tends to be spicier. In light of its bordering countries, Sistan and Baluchistan has a cuisine similar to those countries. Street food vendors and restaurants offer a range of dishes from chickpea curry served with fried eggs and parathas for breakfast; to kebabs rubbed with spices referred to as ‘Baluchi Masala’ for dinner. Restaurants in the area also serve karahi (curry-style dishes) and biryanis, whilst also offering an array of traditional Persian dishes.

The recipe below seeks to re-create the breakfast dish of chickpea curry with parathas and fried eggs eaten in the hustle and bustle of Chabahar. The city is situated on the Makran Coast of the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan. It is officially designated as a “Free Trade and Industrial Zone.” The name of the city translated means Four Springs as the climate feels like spring all year round.

What are Parathas?

Parathas are a type of flatbread commonly eaten in South Asian cuisine. The ingredients are simply plain flour, water, some oil and / or ghee and salt. Gently knead and rest the dough for 30 mins before cooking in a skillet or frying pan. Then butter before serving.

If you don’t want to make the paratha, by all means pop into your local Asian supermarket and purchase some or any other flatbread such as chapatis or roti. I am not a seasoned paratha maker but if you follow the recipe and steps below, the resulting breads are soft, flaky and perfect for dipping into the yolk of your fried egg and scooping up the chickpea curry.

Tips for Making this Dish

You may have eaten Channa Masala, Channay or Chole before as this curry is known in the Indian subcontinent. As with all aromatic food, the longer you cook/leave it the more intense the flavours. I often prepare the chickpea curry the night before and let it simmer for over an hour to intensify the flavours.

I also make the parathas the night before and just heat them up in a dry frying pan or skillet the next morning so all I am cooking are the eggs on the day we want to eat this meal.

If you are making this dish all in one go, then make the chickpea curry first. While the tomato sauce is simmering (before you add the chickpeas), prepare the paratha dough. Then, after you add the chickpeas to the sauce, just let the curry simmer gently as you roll out and cook the parathas. Fry the eggs as the final stage.

How to Serve this Dish

Serve this dish with fresh herbs such as coriander, mint, Thai basil and tarragon alongside the parathas, curry and fried eggs. My family and I often eat this breakfast/brunch dish washed down with a homemade mango lassie or Persian tea.

Other Breakfast Inspiration

Breakfast is probably my favourite meal of the day so I invest as much time in it as I would an evening meal. Check out my other breakfast recipes to enjoy for weekend family brunches.


 A Baluchi-Style Breakfast

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Breakfast, Brunch
Cuisine: Iranian
Keyword: vegetarian, egg recipes
Servings: 6
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

For the chickpea curry

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion (finely sliced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (crushed or minced)
  • Thumb-size piece fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x 400 g tins of chickpeas (drained)
  • 200 mls water
  • Fresh lime juice (half a lime)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Chopped fresh coriander (to garnish)

For parathas

  • 3 cups plain flour (UK standard measuring cup plus extra to sprinkle on parathas)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Water (as required to form a sticky dough in the region of 1.5 to 2 cups)
  • Oil or ghee to brush and cook the parathas 

For the eggs

  • 6 large free-range eggs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

For the chickpea curry

  • Take a saucepan and place it on medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp oil.
  • Add onion and cook until it softens and turns golden. Then add garlic and ginger and stir.
  • Once aroma of garlic and ginger starts to permeate, add cumin seeds, ground coriander, turmeric and garam masala and stir. Allow mixture to cook with spices for about 2 mins.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and once bubbling lower the heat to low- medium to allow the mixture to simmer. Simmer for 20 to 30 mins.
  • Then add chickpeas, water, lime juice, salt and pepper and stir. Leave to simmer for 20 mins minimum until you are ready to serve. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander before serving.

For the parathas

  • Add flour, oil, salt, to a large mixing bowl and mix until incorporated and only tiny lumps remain. Initially add about 1 cup water and mix into flour mixture. Then add more water in small increments to form a dough (I usually require 1.5 to 2 cups of water in total to make a dough). Knead dough for about 5 mins and then leave to rest for 30 mins.
  • After resting time, the texture should be soft and dough lighter. Take the dough and split into 6 equal amounts and roll into a ball.
  • Sprinkle some flour onto work surface. Take one ball of dough and roll to approximately 10cm in diameter with a rolling pin. Brush with a little oil / ghee, sprinkle with a little flour and then fold the dough like a fan. Take one end and roll it along the edge of the dough until it forms back into a ball (like a Catherine wheel). Leave to rest in fridge while you repeat the process with the other balls of dough. This will create the layered, flaky texture for the final cooked parathas.
  • After preparing the ‘Catherine wheel’ dough balls, take a frying pan or skillet and place it on high heat. Drizzle some oil / ghee into pan.
  • Take dough balls out of fridge. Take the first dough ball and roll it until it is approximately 1/2cm thick. Then cook it in the hot pan for 3 minutes on each side, or until nicely charred. While cooking, brush with a little bit more oil / ghee on each side. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
  • Once the parathas are cooked, turn off the heat and leave cooked parathas to one side until you are ready to serve.

For the eggs

  • Add oil to frying pan / skillet and place on medium-high heat.
  • Crack eggs into pan, cover with a tight lid and cook for 3 mins or until white is set.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve alongside chickpea curry and parathas.

Omelette Gojeh Farangi (Persian Tomato Omelette)

Although called an omelette, this beloved Persian breakfast dish is closer to scrambled eggs due to the silky texture from the amount of tomatoes used. Sometimes referred to as Omelette Irani (The Iranian Omelette), it is the most commonly eaten egg-based breakfast in Iran whether in people’s homes or in cafes. 

The Persian Equivalent of Shakshuka

Omelette Gojeh Farangi is made by cooking eggs in a rich tomato sauce. The sauce is flavoured with aromatics and spices – garlic, cumin, turmeric and chilli. The tomato to egg ratio is quite high so the resulting texture is creamy.

It is usually eaten at breakfast or as a brunch option but can also be eaten as a lunch or dinner option. 

How to Serve Omelette Gojeh Farangi

Serve this dish with flatbread; feta; a sprinkle of fresh herbs, such as coriander or parsley; and Persian pickled cucumbers for an authentic Persian breakfast experience. You can also eat it with rice or chips when serving it at lunch or dinner.

Other Breakfast Recipes…


Omelette Irani

Persian tomato omelette
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Breakfast, Main Course, Brunch
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: tomatoes, vegetarian, egg recipes, omelette gojeh farangi
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (finely diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (crushed / minced)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 g fresh coriander (leaves and stalks chopped finely)
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 500 g cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 125 ml water
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 8 free range eggs
  • Chopped fresh coriander leaves to sprinkle as a garnish

Instructions

  • Take a large frying pan, add the olive oil and place over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions and cook until they turn golden.
  • Add garlic, all the spices and herbs and stir until their aromas are released.
  • Then add tomato purée, stir into the mixture and cook for a few more minutes.
  • Add the halved cherry tomatoes, followed by 125 ml of water and stir. Once the mixture starts to bubble, reduce heat to low-medium to allow to simmer, stirring occasionally. Once the cherry tomatoes have broken down and the mixture is looking like a sauce, add the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Take 4 of the eggs and crack them into a bowl and beat them. Then pour into the tomato mixture in the pan and stir in gently to distribute evenly. You want the beaten eggs to be mixed into the tomatoes but not completely scrambled or cooked through.
  • Make 4 holes evenly distributed in the tomato mixture. Crack the remaining eggs into the holes.
  • Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, depending on how runny or cooked you prefer the eggs. Once the eggs are cooked to your liking, turn the heat off.
  • Season the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper and sprinkle some chopped fresh coriander leaves on the dish prior to  serving with flatbreads, Persian pickled cucumbers and / or fresh herbs.

Panir Bereshteh (Persian Scrambled Eggs with Feta & Dill)

Delicious, silky scrambled eggs cooked with spring onions, turmeric, feta and dill. A light and healthy cooked breakfast option which pairs brilliantly with smoked salmon. 

What is Panir Bereshteh?

Panir Bereshteh is a delicately flavoured old recipe from Gilan Province, in northern Iran, which lies along the Caspian Sea bordering Russia. Feta is cooked with spring onions, garlic and turmeric before eggs are folded in. The name of the dish translated means ‘crispy cheese’ (Panir – cheese, and Bereshteh – crispy), but the actual dish is not crispy as the cheese melts to a creamy sauce while cooking, before the eggs are added.

Gilan is lush and green with many delicious dishes originating from the province, particularly vegetarian ones, namely Mirza Ghasemi (smoked aubergines and eggs) and Baghali Ghatogh (eggs with broad beans and dill).

Serving Panir Bereshteh

This recipe is a great addition to your breakfast or brunch catalogue of recipes with the dill and feta resulting in fresh and light flavours. Serve with flatbread and a side of smoked salmon. For a veggie option, serve with tomatoes and cucumbers as pictured.

Other Breakfast Inspiration


 

Panir Bereshteh

Scrambled Eggs with feta & dill
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Breakfast, Brunch
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: egg recipes, easy recipe
Servings: 2
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter or ghee
  • 1 garlic clove (crushed) (optional)
  • 80 g feta cheese
  • 2 spring onions (finely sliced)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 4 large free-range eggs (beaten)
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill (chopped and a further pinch to garnish)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Add olive oil and butter to a frying pan and heat on a medium heat until the butter has melted. Add crushed garlic and stir until aroma released.
  • Add feta cheese and let it cook down until it has melted into a creamy mixture.
  • Reduce heat to low, add spring onion and stir gently.
  • Add turmeric and stir gently pushing the creamy mixture evenly across the pan, ready for the egg mixture.
  • Add dill to beaten eggs, then pour into the frying pan, tilting the pan slightly from side to side so the mixture spreads equally. Increase the heat to medium.
  • As the eggs start to firm, take a spatula and stir gently to the preferred consistency. Turn heat off and serve on its own or with smoked salmon, flat bread or toast.

 

Eshkeneh (Persian Onion & Egg Drop Soup)

This traditional soup from Iran is simple to make and packed full of flavour from the aromatics, turmeric and fenugreek. Comforting with gooey eggs to dip into with the bread of your choice, this soup is a winter warmer.

What is Eshkeneh?

Eshkeneh is a soup made with the primary ingredients of onion, potato, fenugreek, turmeric and egg. There are many variations of the recipe for Eshkeneh. If you have tried it before, you may be more familiar with the version that results in a golden soup with flecks of green from the fenugreek leaves. One of the many variations is made with the addition of tomatoes and this is the recipe I have shared below.

Eshkeneh originates from the Khorasan region of Iran – the east side. My mother and her family are from Mashhad, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘capital of Khorasan’, so this soup was a regular feature in my childhood.

Ingredients in Eshkeneh

Onions and potato are cooked with fresh and dried aromatics in a broth made with tomatoes and tomato purée. Eggs are added to make an egg-drop soup and a lemon and chive oil is drizzled over before serving.

  • Onions. The soup should feel like onion is one of the major ingredients so use a very large onion or two medium onions. See it as the Persian equivalent of a French onion soup.
  • Garlic. Used as an aromatic to enhance the flavour.
  • Potato. Use either an all-rounder potato like a Maris Piper or a waxier potato like a red potato. You want the potato cubes to keep their shape.
  • Fenugreek. You need the dried leaf variety not the seeds.
  • Tomatoes and Tomato Purée. Flavours, thickens and gives a rich red colour to the soup.
  • Water or Vegetable Stock. The cooking liquid for the soup.
  • Turmeric. Used to flavour the soup.
  • Lemon Juice. Used both to flavour the soup and the chive oil drizzled over before serving.
  • Salt and Pepper. To season the soup.
  • Eggs. Cooked in the soup to your preference (I like mine to have a soft yolk to dip my bread into). Use good quality eggs such as organic free-range.
  • Olive Oil. Used for cooking the soup and for the chive oil drizzle.
  • Chives. Used for the chive oil.
Serve with flatbread such as Nan-e Barbari (traditional Persian flatbread) or Sesame and Nigella Seed Flatbread
Try another loved Persian Soup: Soupe Jo – Persian Cream of Barley and Chicken Soup

Eshkeneh

Persian onion and egg-drop soup
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: tomatoes, vegetarian, eggs, fenugreek
Servings: 2
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

For the Soup

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion (finely diced)
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (crush a little if the leaves are large)
  • 1 large potato (finely diced - 1 cm cubes)
  • 1 medium tomato (chopped)
  • 600 mls water or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • A squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large free range eggs

For the Chive Oil Garnish

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • A handful of fresh chives
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Instructions

  • Take a medium size saucepan and place on medium-high heat. Add olive oil and then onion. Cook onion until translucent and starting to turn golden. 
  • Add garlic and turmeric and stir into the mixture. Add tomato purée. Then add dried fenugreek leaves and stir into mixture.
  • Add diced potato and stir gently for a few minutes, making sure the potatoes do not stick to the pan.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and then water or stock. Once soup starts to bubble, lower heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes minimum. Check in now and again to stir occasionally.
  • Season according to taste.
  • Place olive oil, finely chopped fresh chives and lemon juice in a bowl and mix and put to one side to garnish the soup when ready to serve.
  • Prior to serving, and when the soup is simmering, crack eggs into soup as far away as possible from each other so they don't merge. Poach 2 mins for soft; 4 mins for medium; and above 5 mins for hard. Turn off heat and serve in bowls with lemon and chive oil drizzled on top and flatbread to dip.