Spring has sprung and the Spring Equinox also happens to be Persian New Year. I’ve always been closer to and identified more with the Spanish side of my family. After all, my Persian grandmother and my father both immigrated to Spain when my dad was a kid so there’s also a lot of Spanish influence on my Persian side. Even so, I have always tried to connect with those roots through food. I do a bunch of really great Persian recipes including this one. It’s called “kuku” and it’s basically a frittata or omelet with lots of herbs and spices in it. There is an all herbs version which is super traditional for Persian New Year but I didn’t get all the herbs in my CSA box so I decided to sub out the cups and cups of herbs this recipe usually calls for with local spring veggies I did get.
Nothing says spring like asparagus and zucchini!
The thing that makes this different from a regular ole frittata or omelet recipe is the addition of advieh and baking powder. Advieh is a Persian spice mixture that has a ton of super aromatic spices in it like cloves, cinnamon and ground up rose petals. It really packs a punch in the flavor department which gives this dish a very distinct character. The baking powder makes it super fluffy and gives it a pillowy consistency. The combination of these two things are what I think make is special.
I like to pre-measure my seasonings and group them in the order they have to go into the dish. This reduces the stress levels when cooking and also the margin for error. No frantic half-assed measures in the middle of a step.
You can put almost any kind of herbs or veggies in this recipe and I encourage you to play around with it. Just make sure that the veggies are par-boiled, sautéed or at least partially cooked before they go into the kuku because the oven temp and cooking time aren’t really long or hot enough to get them cooked how I like them.
These should not be cooked all the way. Just enough heat to get them to lose their raw edge and absorb some salt.
Otherwise, it’s a pretty simple and straightforward recipe that is also versatile.
Herbs go in raw and add a light kick to the dish.
Doesn’t look like much going into the oven but just you wait…
Ta-da! Magic! Comes out looking like food. Mine got a little stuck to my non-stick frying pan (what the hell) so you should make sure you oil the pan well before putting the raw mixture in there. In the end mine came off the pan and looked and tasted great. It just could have been easier.
While this may not be the traditional version of the Persian New Year kuku, it’s my little local twist for spring and I encourage you to use whatever spring has sprung up locally for you in your own version. If you come up with something fun, post it in the comments! And as they say in Iran, nush-eh jan!
- ½ cup olive oil
- 5 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons Persian spice mix (advieh)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 small shallots chopped
- 2 small zucchini thinly sliced into discs
- 2 small bunch of asparagus chopped into 1 inch pieces
- ½ cup of chopped parsley
- ¼ cup chopped green onions
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat in a frying pan until it shimmers. Add the shallots and sauté for a couple minutes until they begin to soften. Add zucchini and asparagus and sprinkle with half the salt. Sauté for a few minutes until they are bright green, warmed through and still crispy. You don't want them to be raw but you also don't want to cook them all the way because they will continue to cook in the oven once you put this all together. Turn off the heat and set them aside.
- Break the eggs into a large bowl. Add the baking powder, advieh, remaining salt, and pepper. Lightly beat in the green onions, parsley, and flour. Then add in the cooked veggies and mix it all together. Taste it and add more salt if needed.
- Coat the bottom of a non-stick, oven proof frying pan with olive oil and pour the egg mixture into the pan. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.
- Serve the kuku from the frying pan, or unmold it by loosening the edge with a knife or spatula and inverting the pan onto a serving platter. Slice into wedges or squares and serve either warm, room temperature or cold.