Kuku is the Persian word for, the closest thing I can think of would be a frittata. Typically kuku, as I know them, are much less egg-y and much richer in whatever the element is that you’re putting in there. The most classic kuku is kuku sabzi, the herb kuku. I always teach people to take the typical ratio of eggs to filling that you might know in a tortilla Español or in a frittata, and you reverse it. So, it’s mostly herbs that are basically held together by egg. It’s a like a fried pie of herbs and greens.
To me, one of the most delicious and quintessential tastes of the cooked green or the cooked herb is the one you get from kuku sabzi. It’s also just a great way to use up whatever you’ve got. The other thing that we use all of in Iranian cooking is the leek; we use all of the leek, even the green part. In Western cooking, you always throw away the green part or just use it in the stock. But, the green part tastes good. So, you cook the whole leek down, or you could do onion if you wanted – my mother would use onion.
My own little Northern California touch I’ll use green garlic and stew that in there. Then I’ll take herb after herb that I’ve chopped as finely as I possibly can, I sizzle everything and cook it down, and my house starts to smell so fragrant and alive and vibrant. You have this moment where the smell in your house is transforming from all the herbs you just chopped. I drain everything and squeeze all the water out, so I have this incredible amount of cooked herbs. At the beginning it may be eight bunches of herbs and in the end it might just be on eight-inch frittata.
It’s this incredibly nutritious and delicious thing. And because the herbs on the outside are so well-cooked – my mother would nearly burn the herbs on the outside – they are caramelized. The outside of the kuku is my favorite part because it turns into this sweet cake. That sweetness is nicely balanced by a few pickles or a dollop of yogurt or some feta cheese. You can eat your kuku warm, or I really like it room temperature or even cold. You could have kuku sandwiches with feta and pickles for lunch. It’s so good.
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