Persian Eggplant Kuku (Kuku-ye bademjan) Recipe

The sun is peeking through the clouds as I look out on Vancouver.  We are finally settled into our cozy condo and am finally feeling somewhat adjusted to our new environment. I’ve been eager to get back to cooking but am admittedly afraid of the new appliances (I freaked when I realized our stove is in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit).

I didn’t want to be the person who burned down the building with their first attempt at cooking. Fortunately, I recently received a beautiful Persian cookbook which I’ve been anxious to use. The cookbook inspired me and conquered my fears allowing me to create this wonderfully delicious eggplant dish.

Ever since our house went up for sale in January, we’ve been connected at the hip to our realtor Jeanne Rajabzadeh from Coldwell-Banker. She’s helped me to maintain my sanity throughout the process. And, not only is she a great agent, she is also an amazing cook. As we were leaving California, she and her husband took us out for a delicious Persian dinner and she gave me the most amazing cookbook.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to wait a couple weeks since receiving the cookbook to actually make use of it. Our boxes are now unpacked and I’ve been flipping through the book and trying to decide what to make first. I love eggplant and something about this recipe struck a chord with me. It sounded rich and delicious (and it is).

Eggplant Kuku (Kuku-ye bademjan)
adapted from New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies

2 large eggplants (about 2 lbs.)
3/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 eggs
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground saffron soaked in 1 tablespoon hot water
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Peel and slice each eggplant lengthwise into 5 slices. Place the slices into a large bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons salt, then cover with cold water. Allow to soak for 20 minutes which will remove any bitterness from the eggplant. Drain, rinse and pat dry.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Brown the eggplants on both sides until tender. I opted to toss the slices in the olive oil and bake in oven at 375F (190C) for about 30 minutes. My reason? I didn’t want to splatter grease on my countertops :-)

Once the eggplant is cooked, place into a bowl and mash with a fork.

In the same skillet, lightly brown the onion and garlic in 3 tablespoons oil and then add to the mashed eggplant.

Preheat the oven to 375F. (I used 190C)

Crack the eggs into a bowl. Add parsley, saffron water, lime juice, baking powder, flour, salt and pepper. Beat thoroughly and then add to the eggplant mixture. Stir to combine.

Pour 1/4 cup oil into an 8 inch baking dish and place it in the oven. When the oil becomes hot, carefully pour in the eggplant mixture and bake uncovered for 30 minutes. As you can see from my photos, I used an iron skillet instead of a baking dish.

Remove the dish and gently pour the remaining oil over the egg mixture. Put the dish back in the oven and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

The dish is mostly eggplant and onions with eggs used to hold it together and puff it up. It’s like an eggplant frittata, light and airy, yet rich from the olive oil. The garlic and onions boost up the subtle eggplant flavor while the saffron gives it a yellowish tint.

Both of us enjoyed the eggplant kuku and it will go on the list of things to make again. We’re trying to eat fewer meals with meat so this makes for a satisfying and flavorful replacement. We served it with a bit of white rice but it would be more healthy if paired with a salad.

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  1. Welcome back Allen! Don’t worry too much about cooking in C…it’s so much easier! Also, i have to say I love the look of this…almost like a rich frittata.

  2. Welcome to BC Allen. Vancouver is a diverse city with a lot to offer!!First thing I would do is head down to Granville Island for one of their tours from Edible BC. They also do tours of Chinatown.

  3. Peter G: Thank you, Peter! I’m learning to adjust and so far nothing has burned :-)

    Q: Yep, I’m back in action — thanks for bugging me to start posting again!

    Culinary Cory: Thank you for the well wishes — I’m glad to get back in to cooking and blogging. I’ve missed both :-)

    Bellini Valli: I hadn’t heard of Edible BC and just went to their website after reading your comment — wow, I will definitely check out their tours. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Welcome back online! Too bad we never got together while you were still here in San Jose. But Vancouver is a very exciting food town, so I’m sure you’ll have some great adventures there!

    What was the name of the Persian restaurant your Realtor took you to?

  5. YAY! I’m glad you’re back. This looks wonderful, and I’m always looking for something new to do with eggplant.

  6. Hey buddy! Nice to see you are back in the kitchen. I hope you are doing great in your new home. It is always difficult to move to another country (I know, I’ve done it several times) but when you have the support of the person you love things are always easier :)

    Great dish. I need to explore Persian cuisine, I just realized :)

  7. Allen a warm welcome back to blogging!! So nice to see you again and hope you’ll have very good luck at Vancouver :)

    Very interesting and yummy recipe, I don’t know much about Persian dishes!


  8. I’m glad you’re settling in too, my cousin lives in Vancouver, I know you’re going to love it there!
    I think the recipe is great! Aubergine’s are so versatile but I never thought of an omelette. Isn’t the www a wonderful thing!
    oops I forgot …you call them eggplants :0)

  9. Mallory Elise: Thank you!

    Christie @ Fig&Cherry: I love the bold color you get from saffron – a little goes a long way

    Nate: We went to Faz in Sunnyvale — it’s Mediterranean with a smattering of authentic Persian kababs and such. Make sure to ask for the ground sumac to sprinkle on your rice!

    Stephanie: Thank you! It feels good to be back :-)

    Ben: I need to catch up on your blog and see what kind of craziness you’ve been up to ;-)

    Gera: Thanks! The cookbook is an amazing overview of so many interesting Persian dishes – I’m not sure what to make next.

    Lesley: Thank you! I must admit … ‘aubergine’ sounds much more eloquent and appealing :-)

  10. Allen, my dear, only you can make eggplant look interesting. So when do we get to see your new urban kitchen? Welcome back to the food blog mad house!

  11. Kudos to you for conquering your fears!

    Grew up eating lot of egg plants, mostly prepared the traditional Japanese ways. I need to try this.

  12. I stumbled on this site looking for something to do with eggplant besides eggplant parmesan. I order an organic basket every week or so from a local urban garden and I almost always end up with eggplant…and I’m generally not a big fan (though I do love baba ghanoush).

    I decided to try this recipe. I only had one eggplant, so I added 2 small yellow squash and mixed in some leftover green onion for about 1/3 of the chopped onion. The result was AWESOME! I finally have something to do with the eggplant that I may just cook every time.

    Btw, love this site. I have been browsing and have already found TONS of recipes I am ready to try. This is all my kind of cooking. Thank you!

  13. Is the saffron just for color, or is the taste noticeable?

    This recipe sounds (and looks) fantastic. Definitely trying it very soon.

  14. Clare: So glad you liked the recipe! I love eggplant and enjoy finding new ways to use it.

    Sonia: the saffron is mostly for color and doesn’t add much flavor. Thanks!

  15. Love this dish, I also love kukus with chicken, potato, herbs or mince. Growing up in a Persian houshold, one of the above kukus is a weekly feature:-)
    Loving your blog and the Turkish influence in it, already decided to cook the mushroom and rice soup for dinner:-)
    XX M

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