By now, many of you are familiar with kuku, a Persian/Iranian dish similar to fritatta (kuku has far less egg to main ingredients ratio). Here are some of the previously introduced kukus:
kuku sabzi/herbs, kuku kadu-sabz/zucchini and kuku sibzamini/potato. As promised to some eggplant loving readers, today, I am introducing kuku bademjan/eggplants. Obviously, eggplants play the starring role of this dish, which is bound with eggs. However, side-kick ingredients may be added, as long as they don’t take the thunder away from the eggplants. I have added caramelized onion and tomatoes, which are quite common, but also, a very unusual ingredient, yellow split-peas!
Kuku Bademjan • کوکو بادمجان • Eggplant Kuku
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
To prepare the eggplants
• 400 g/ 4 medium-sized, Japanese eggplants (hardly any seeds) or available eggplants
• vegetable oil
• 3 Tbsp yellow split-peas, slow cook type to hold their shape
• 340 g/ 12oz 1 large onion, diced very small
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 500gr/17.5oz/ 4 medium tomatoes, diced small (I blanch to remove skins & de-seed them before dicing)
• ¼ tsp turmeric
• ½ tsp salt
• 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
• small pinch cayenne pepper
• 4 large eggs
• vegetable oil and 1 Tbsp butter for cooking
◊ Peel eggplants. Cut stems off but keep hat-like top near the stem intact (this helps handling of the eggplants while and after cooking).
◊ Put peeled eggplants in a colander with a deep dish under it or put it in the sink. Sprinkle salt generously all over the eggplants and let them sweat for 20~ minutes to extract bitterness/toxins and excess liquid. This process is called ‘degorging' (it also helps to fry faster and absorb less oil). Rinse and pat dry with paper towel.
◊ Using a 25cm/10″, non-stick fry-pan (which has a lid), pour oil (enough to cover eggplants half-way while frying) and put on medium. When the oil ripples, place eggplants in the oil. Fry both sides until well-browned (not burned). Set aside for next step. Wash the fry-pan for the next step.
◊ In a small sauce pan, add rinsed yellow split-peas and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil on high-heat. As soon as it starts to foam (as it will overflow) drain, refresh its water, add 1/8 tsp salt and bring to a boil again. Lower heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes or until done. Drain and set aside to cool.
◊ In the fry-pan, heat 4 Tbsp of oil on medium-heat and caramelize the diced onion (18~20 minutes). Turn off the heat. Using strainer over a bowl, drain the onion. Empty onion into a medium bowl and set the bowl with the oil aside (its oil will be used to fry the kuku).
◊ Meanwhile… In a small saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp butter (or oil) on medium-heat and add minced garlic. After 5 seconds, add cut tomatoes and cook for 3~4 minutes. Add turmeric, salt, pepper, cayenne, mix well and cook until all liquid from tomatoes evaporates. Turn off the heat. Empty the mixture into the bowl with caramelized onion.
◊ Peel off and discard eggplant hats and cut fried eggplants and add to the other cooked ingredients and add cooked yellow split peas. Break the eggs over (watch for no egg shells) and with a fork, mix them well.
◊ Add the oil set aside from caramelizing onion to the fry-pan and heat on medium. When oil is heated well (crucial), add the egg mixture and spread evenly from center to the sides (do not stir). Lower the heat to slightly lower than medium-low. Gently tuck in the edges of kuku to make an evenly round and thick kuku. Put the lid on. Let it cook/set slowly for 2o minutes depending on the stove’s heat set.
♦ If preferred the kuku to be in one round piece, put a large plate over the fry-pan and flip. If needed, add 1 Tbsp oil to the fry-pan and slide kuku back into the pan. Put the lid back on and cook the other side for 4 minutes and turn off the heat. Let it continue to cook in the pan with no heat under for 4 more minutes.
♦ Otherwise, with a spatula, cut the kuku into 6 wedges and flip the pieces. Put the lid back on and cook for 4 minutes and turn off the heat. Let it continue to cook in the pan with no heat under for 4 more minutes.
◊ When the kuku is ready, transfer to a serving dish. And, if preferred in one round piece, slide kuku onto a serving dish. Serve warm with bread and salad. Also, kuku may be cooled and cut into 5cm/2″ squares as appetizers.
~ Noushe jan • نوش جان ~
 Degorging: – The bitterness in eggplant is caused by toxins that build up if the eggplant has grown slowly (hence, it’s more of a problem in colder countries, less of a problem in sunny, Mediterranean climates). It is less likely to be a problem with smaller, heavier eggplants.
These toxins can also cause gastric upsets. Salt may be used to reduce bitterness/toxins. Cut eggplants as called for in the recipe. Then either soak in salted water or sprinkle the dry, just peeled or cut pieces all over with salt. The eggplant will give off a brownish sweat, which before cooking, should be rinsed and pat dried by paper towel.
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?