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 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.