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Cook this: Eggplant and caramelized onion kuku from Bazaar


'It's a Persian staple,' says Sabrina Ghayour of the egg-based dish

Our cookbook of the week is Bazaar by Sabrina Ghayour, award-winning cookbook author, chef and culinary teacher. Over the next two days, we’ll feature another recipe from the book and an interview with its author.

“A Persian staple,” kuku comes in various forms, including the spectacular kuku sabzi (herb), and kuku sibzamini (potato). Here, Sabrina Ghayour incorporates eggplant, caramelized onion and parsley into the egg-based dish. While often compared to a frittata, kuku typically has a heftier filling-to-egg ratio; generous amounts of vegetables, herbs or other ingredients are bound together with just enough egg to hold.

“What I love about it is, for people who are like, ‘I can’t eat carbs,’ it’s perfect for them, even though Persians will just slap it in a piece of bread. It’s the ultimate thing to make a double batch of because whatever you’re left with can go to work with you for the next four, five days after, if it’s in an airtight container,” says Ghayour.

“It’s just a gift that keeps on giving: You can bake them in muffin moulds, you can cut them into slices and put them in bread, you can have it hot, you can have it warm, you can have it cold. You can chuck in feta, use a different herb, use spring onions instead of caramelized onions. I like recipes like that … (They’re) not just one-trick ponies; they go a little bit further and you can have them in lots of different ways.”

EGGPLANT & CARAMELIZED ONION KUKU

Generous pinch of best-quality saffron threads, ground to a powder using a mortar and pestle
3 tbsp boiling water
Vegetable oil, for frying
4 large eggplants, cut into 2.5-cm (1-inch) cubes
3 large onions, halved and thinly sliced into half-moons
10 large eggs
2 tbsp thick Greek yogurt
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 small pack (about 30 g) of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Step 1

Put the saffron powder into a small cup and pour the boiling water over it. Let steep until the liquid is cool.

Step 2

Line two baking pans with a double layer of paper towels. Pour enough vegetable oil into a large saucepan to fill to a depth of about 2.5 cm (1 inch). Heat the oil over medium-high heat, then add half the eggplant cubes. Fry for a few minutes, without stirring, until brown and cooked through. (Remove a piece and mash it with a fork; there should be no resistance.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant from the pan to one of the prepared baking pans to drain. Place a layer of paper towel on top of the eggplant cubes to absorb the excess oil. Repeat the process with the remaining eggplant cubes, adding oil to the pan as necessary. Set the cooked eggplant cubes aside and let cool.

Step 3

Place another large saucepan over medium heat and drizzle in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once hot, add the onion and cook for 30 minutes or so, stirring regularly, until soft and cooked through but without blackening. This process requires a little patience, but the flavour will be worthwhile. Remove the onion from the pan using a slotted spoon and transfer to the other prepared baking pan to drain. Let cool.

Step 4

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Select a large baking pan or ovenproof dish, about 27 x 20 cm (10 1/2 x 8 inches) and line it with parchment paper.

Step 5

Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat. Add the saffron solution, yogurt, flour, and baking powder and mix well. Stir in the cooled onion and eggplant along with the parsley, then season generously with salt and pepper and mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan or dish and ensure the ingredients are evenly distributed across it. Bake for 30 minutes (check after 25), or until the top is golden and beginning to brown, and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean of raw egg. Let cool slightly, then cut it into slices. Serve with mixed salad greens.

Serves: 10

Excerpted from Bazaar by Sabrina Ghayour, published in 2019 by Mitchell Beazley, an imprint of Octopus Publishing Group Ltd. Photography by Kris Kirkham. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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