Eggplant Kuku with barberries

Kuku Bademjan ba Zereshk

کوکو بادمجان با زرشک

Here is another dish in the kuku series. But this kuku is quite special, as it highlights a vegetable that has been called the potato of Iran: none other than eggplant. Eggplant is such a unique vegetable, and – as my beloved cooking teacher would say – eggplant is a prima donna ingredient, and I could not agree more!

Eggplant tends to bring out strong opinions in people, whether you love to love them or love to….not love them! As a child, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat this vegetable. When you grow up in a culture that celebrates eggplants the way ours does, you have to get creative and find a way to eat around the eggplants in stews or kuku that mom would make.

Many people have an issue with the texture, and then there are the flavor and the taste. Some believe that eggplants are so bitter that you have to resort to all kinds of previous treatments. And, if I may be so bold as to say, many don’t know how to cook this vegetable until you accept and accommodate its prima donna qualities!

Eggplants need special attention and focus: they need to be at the front and center of the stage, and to be cooked all on their own. In other words, don’t cook the eggplant in the same pan with carrots or potatoes or broccoli or any other vegetable. Eggplants need to be blended and mixed into the dish after they’ve been cooked on their own: that is really the only way to treat them to ensure good texture and flavor.

Also, eggplants are not a diet food! They are cooked to perfection only with an amount of oil that will have some people rolling their eyes! So, when I crave this vegetable and cook it appropriately, I have to accept that I will be skipping ice cream or baklava after my eggplant dish!

Kuku Bademjan

Kuku Bademjan is an egg-based dish much like a frittata with fluffy cooked eggplants and barberries.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: barberry, eggplant, eggs, kuku
Servings: 4
Author: Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef

Ingredients

  • 8 Asian eggplants (or 2-3 Italian eggplants), partially peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/3 cup barberries
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400℉ and set to convection.
  • In a large bowl, combine 10 tablespoons of oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and the eggplants and toss to make sure the eggplants are coated with a layer of salt and oil. Place the eggplants single layered on a baking sheet and roast for a total of 30 -35 minutes, carefully turning them over halfway. Once golden brown and softened, remove from the oven and set aside.
  • In a small frying pan, saute the onions with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat for about 15 minutes before adding the garlic. Continue to saute for an additional 2 minutes.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, the remainder of the salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, and barberries and mix using a whisk. Add the eggplants and the onions to the egg mixture and gently toss.
  • Select an oven proof baking dish and thoroughly spread the 1 tablespoon of butter to cover the pan’s surface areas. Pour in the eggplant and egg mixture into the baking dish and spread out the eggplant evenly.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Baking times will vary depending on your baking dish’s size and whether the mixture is spread out in a single layer or stacked.
  • Once baked, kuku should have risen and turned into a golden brown color.
  • Remove from the oven and set aside for about 5 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and carefully invert the dish onto a platter.
  • Serve kuku with flatbreads, fresh herbs, and yogurt.

Notes

Alternatively, you can saute the eggplants over a medium flame in a frying pan on the stove top. This method will require more oil.

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