I have been meaning to blog for at least a year but not got around to it. When Sanam of My Persian Kitchen asked me if I’d like to take part in an Irani New Year,or Nowruz, recipe roundup with fellow Irani food bloggers, I thought it seemed a very auspicious way to start. So, welcome everyone and merci Sanam jan.
I get very excited when I see the year’s first crocuses, which in Bath coincides with the signs for Bath Half Marathon going up in the streets. I know Nowruz (new day) is coming and that there will be wild garlic soon on the NT SkyLine walk. Nowruz, also known as Eid Nowruz, and Baiyrom in Azeri, is a pagan festival marking the vernal equinox and the arrival of spring. People of the Greater Iran region regard this new rotation of the earth around the sun as the first day of the year. No matter what time Tahveel occurs, day or night, that is when we offer our New Year wishes and eat sweet things to see it in, standing by our haft siin (literally, seven ‘S’s) display.
This year, we will be celebrating on 20 March at precisely 1657 (GMT) in Bath, my family at 2027 in Tabriz, my sister at 0257 in Australia (21st), and my fellow bloggers across the Pond at 1257 or 0957. Being a northern hemisphere festival, it is heartwarming how Iranians in Australia still celebrate the New Year in autumn! I suppose it is like the British Down Under who enjoy a roast turkey with all the trimmings on a baking hot midsummer’s day. If you’d like to read more about Nowruz, please take a look at my article here in Silvana de Soissons’ fabulous Foodie Bugle (which is full of treasures).
The first recipe I shall post in this blog is a Kookoo, also spelt Kuku. Kookoo is a frittata / omelette style dish which varies through the seasons. For the New Year, what better than a verdant kookoo sabzi (herb kookoo)? I have adapted the recipe for our local ingredients, so if you are lucky enough to have ramsons/wild garlic growing near you, you can also use them. This recipe is very popular in my cookery classes. It is simple, frugal and nutritious, and may be eaten, hot, warm or cold. It’s a great dish to share.Kookoo Sabzi – کوکو سبزی - Herb Kookoo – Joy chuchisi in Azeri Can be made gluten & dairy free Kookoo is mainly vegetables or herbs bound with egg rather than being suspended in a batter. As you can see from the photo, the batter is not visible. Sabz means green and sabzi and sabzijat are used for herbs and vegetables. This recipe makes a small 20 cm diameter frying pan sized kookoo. The weights below are a rough guide: you don’t have to be precise, but what is important is that the herbs are clean and properly dry. Always chop greens very carefully so as not to bruise them. A sharp knife is essential. Two things which make for a tasty kookoo are oil and seasoning, so don’t scrimp on either. There are other seasonal kookoo: e.g. potato, bean, aubergine, cauliflower etc. As with all recipes, each family has its own variation, and this is mine : Ingredients 100g of washed and finely chopped green part of the spring onions, chives or wild chives. In Iran they use a chive with v shaped leaves called tarreh. 100g of washed and finely chopped spinach 50g of washed and finely chopped wild garlic leaves – out of season, use 50g of spring onion greens/chives 3 eggs Small handful of crushed walnuts Small handful of barberries – optional (these are sour berries which can be bought in Iranian or middle eastern food stores) 2 tablespoons of plain flour (for gluten free version use 1 1/2 tbls of gram (chickpea) flour), salt & pepper to season 2- 3 tablespoon of oil of your choice for frying. If you like the taste of butter, throw in a knob of butter to coat the kookoo after it has cooked.
Make sure the herbs are washed then properly dried before you chop. You can do this by washing them and leaving them to dry for a few hours, or by using a salad spinner before drying them with a cloth. Put the chopped herbs into a large bowl (so there is room to stir) and add the seasoning, 1 tablespoon of flour and stir. Then add the other tablespoon of flour to the nuts and berries, mix and add to the herbs and stir. Put oil into your frying pan and heat it so that when you put in a pinch of herbs it sizzles. At this point crack the eggs into a separate bowl, stir to break the yolks and add most but not all into the herb mix. Don’t stir too much – just until it is incorporated and the herbs glisten. It shouldn’t look like it doesn’t have any egg but it shouldn’t be sloppy either. If you need more egg add the rest. I mention this because egg size varies: you know how it should look or feel. Pour into the frying pan, smooth the top and turn the heat down after 3 minutes. Let it gently set on the bottom. After 20 minutes or so, it should be crisp. At this point, it is your choice, you can either put a plate over the pan, turn the kookoo, and slide it back in so the other side cooks, or you can cut it in quarters and turn the pieces individually. It needs another 15 mins on a gentle heat to cook and crisp up. Check to see if is done by poking a knife in it : if it comes out clean, it is ready (like a cake). Serve with yoghurt and flat bread.
For a party I made this in a brownie tin using 1 kg of herbs and 10 large eggs. I let it cool in the tin over night and the next day turned it out and cut it into squares. Tip: To keep wild garlic, lettuce, spinach, herbs fresh, wash them, allow them to dry a little then wrap them in a damp cloth or kitchen paper. Put them in a plastic bag in the drawer of the fridge. Just picked leaves will keep fresh for a week like this.
Here is a video to show you how to identify and pick wild garlic which was made by the lovely boys at BathOnTV in the glorious surroundings of NT Prior Park. As Nowruz approaches, I’ll keep you posted on my prepration and celebrations. Suffice it to say, the spring clean, or khaneh tekani (shaking the house) has started. Please leave a comment or follow my blog. Thank you.
Check out my fellow Nowruz recipe bloggers around the earth: