Today marks Persian New Year known as “Nowrouz”. Nowrouz literally means “New Day”. It is celebrated at the spring equinox, the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day Its start therefore varies depending on where you are celebrating.
I think the Chinese and the Persians have it sussed with celebrating the New Year not just for one day, but for an extended period of time, as Nowrouz kicks of a 13 day spring festival of rituals and celebrations with family and friends.
Nowrouz also marks a holy day for Zoroastrians, such as Kurds, Tajiks and Afghans.
Nowrouz is completely non-religious. Instead, it celebrates new beginnings. Time to “Do Over” on this New Day, meaning to renew, refresh (thus for instance wearing new clothes) and getting rid of everything that was bad about the old year.
One of the dishes traditionally served in the Iranian community on Persian New Year, is this wonderful Kuku Sabzi, a thick omelette reminiscent of the Italian frittata. But it is full to bursting with green herbs and spices, so it’s like a frittata on steroids.
It is customary to include dried barberries, a particularly sour fruit popular in Iranian cooking.. You can find them online or in most Middle Eastern shops. But you can substitute them with cranberries, goji berries or even currants as a last resort.
The dried berries are often baked into the kuku itself. But I like to caramelize them in a little pomegranate molasses and scatter them over for serving. It may sound like an odd combination, but the yoghurt and sour berries add a lovely fresh zesty zing to the dish.
Delicious hot or cold, as a snack, part of a spread, for brunch, lunch or a light dinner. Great for picnics when the weather gets better too. Here’s hoping.
Eide Shoma mobarek.
Persian Kuku Sabzi with Caramelized Berries (serves 4-6 – GF V LC RSF)
This is traditionally cooked on the hob, but you could cook the Kuku in a medium oven for 40-50 mins if you prefer.
a handful of fresh parsley or chives, chopped
a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
a small bunch of dill, chopped
the green parts from a small bunch of spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp (GF) flour (I used coconut flour)
1/2 tsp (GF) baking powder
a grating of fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 ground cardamom or the crushed seeds from 3-4 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
powdered dried rose petals or a tiny splash of orange blossom water (optional)
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
1 tbsp coconut oil, rapeseed oil or ghee (clarified butter) plus an extra tsp
70 gr walnut halves, toasted in a dry pan for a few mins, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
2 tbsp Greek yoghurt or Labneh (optional)
For the caramelized berry topping:
2-3 tbsp dried barberries, goji berries, cranberries or currants, soaked in hot water for 10 mins, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp coconut palm sugar or other unrefined sugar
Optional to serve: Greek yoghurt or Labneh, a simple tomato salad and some extra greens or herbs
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl with the yoghurt (if using), flour, baking powder, fenugreek and spices. Add the fresh herbs and mix thoroughly. Stir through the walnuts, garlic and rose petals or orange flower water. Season to taste. Try not to over-mix.
Heat the oil in a heavy based non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and gently spread to the edges with a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon if the mixture is quite firm. Cover, turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook for 15-20 mins or until the underside is golden and the top is virtually dry..
Slide the kuku onto a large plate, put the frying pan on top and flip it over, so now the cooked side is on the top. Return to the hob, cover and cook for another 5-10 mins.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the berries, coconut palm sugar and molasses. Cook for 5 mins or so, stirring occasionally.
Slide the kuku onto a serving plate and divide into wedges. Top each wedge with a dollop of yoghurt and some caramelized dried fruit.
Scatter over some extra herbs or greens and serve with a simple tomato salad (mine was red onion, avocado, tomato, fresh lemon juice, garlic, fresh coriander and seasoning).