Kuku , sort of like a Persian omelette or frittata, comes in many forms. I love this one that I make at home without eggs. Because it doesn’t have eggs I tend to make it looser than a frittata but it can be cooked more omelette-like and I include instructions below. It is packed with herbs, and I love the tart barberries with the crunch of the walnuts.
Kuku is traditionally served with flatbread, crunchy items like radishes, acidic pickles and feta. Today I have served it on a Cauliflower Puree as well. It is a great mezze dish.
The inspiration for this dish originally came from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. But as his is an egg-based dish, we have made significant alterations. It is delicious, though, retaining the original flavours of barberries and herbs. I like that Ottolenghi’s version is a “wet version” – it sort of justifies my take on this dish. His recipe is here.
Eggplant Kuku with Cauliflower Puree | Egg-free Eggplant Kuku
120ml sunflower oil or olive oil
3 medium onions, peeled and sliced
3 medium aubergines, peeled
2 Tblspn chickpea flour
2 Tblspn cream
25g chopped parsley, plus extra to garnish
25g mixed chopped green coriander and dill
35g walnuts, toasted and chopped finely, or use fresh breadcrumbs
0.25 tspn turmeric powder
1 tspn saffron strands, dissolved in 1 cup of hot water
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
20g dried barberries
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan and sauté the onions over medium heat for seven minutes, until soft but not brown.
Meanwhile, cut the aubergines in two widthways, cut each half into 1cm-thick slices, then cut each slice into 1cm-thick strips. Add these to the onion pan and cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for around 10 minutes, until the aubergines are completely soft (add a little more oil and a small splash of water if needed, but not a lot). Set aside to cool down.
Add the herbs, saffron and its water, garlic, turmeric, walnuts, salt and a good grind of pepper. Once smooth, fold in the barberries.
Mix the chickpea flour and cream with enough water to make a smooth pourable paste, then add to the eggplant and mix well. The flour will thicken, and coat the eggplants.
Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with parsley. I like to serve it over a base, and in this case I have used Cauliflower-Tahini Puree. Accompany with radishes, feta, lime wedges and pickle.
recipe notes and alternatives
Dried dill and fenugreek leaves can be added.
If serving on top of a puree, top the dish with diced radishes and feta chunks.
To Make Frittata – Style
When soaking the saffron, use only 1 Tblspn water.
Make the recipe as above, without adding the chickpea flour. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
In a large bowl, make a mixture of 1.5 cup chickpea flour, 1 cup cream, half tspn eno and water to a thick pancake batter consistency. Add the eggplant mixture and mix well.
Heat oil in a 20-22 cm sauté pan over moderate heat until it is hot but not smoking. Pour the batter into a generous amount of oil (make 1 large or use half the batter to make 2 large frittata), quickly spreading it evenly to the edges of the pan, into a flat cake.
After 4-5 minutes, when one side is golden brown, lift the frittata with a wide spatula or two small spatulas and flip it over to brown the other side. When golden brown, slip onto a serving tray. Garnish with chopped herbs and serve hot, cut into wedges.
It will look somewhat like this dish.