Kookoo (also spelled KuKu) refers to a genre of egg-based Persian food. Think: love child of a quiche and a soufflé. Kookoo also bears a semblance of resemblance to a frittata, fritter, omelette or even a pancake. Let’s cut to the chase and call kookoo the Zelig of egg-based dishes.
There are many different types of kookoo - each region of Iran in particular has its own specialty - and it is one of those dishes that is whipped out when guests arrive unexpectedly and you have to present them with something delicious with whatever meagre ingredients you might have at hand.
The potato kookoo's recipe is how my mother make hers, which I revised just a little by modifying the measurements ever so slightly. I also added walnuts because I like to have a bit of crunchy texture to contrast with the overall fluffy density of the standard-issue potato kookoo.
In Iran, kookoo - typically a lunch fare - may be served in a number of ways. Either with a platter of fresh herbs and bread and feta cheese; or with bread and yogurt; or, with torshi (pickles.) Some types of kookoo, such as the potato kookoo, can also be paired with something sweet. Thus the candied turnips: they have a very mellow yet distinctly sweet taste that brightens up the comforting but one-note taste of the potato kookoo and the soft yet chewy texture of the candied turnips is wonderful with the fluffy kookoo. Add some bread and you have a humble yet veritable feast.
I calculate that the cost of all ingredients, including the turnips and honey, but excluding saffron to be below the $7 mark. Saffron may sound extravagant for what is billed as a "cheap feast" but the recipe literally calls for the tiniest amount of it (like the tip of a teaspoon) so that the amount of saffron actually used in the recipe does not cost very much at all.
—Fig and Quince
- Serves 2
- Potato & Walnut Kookoo
eggs (allowed to reach room temperature)
walnuts (chopped into small bits)
saffron (dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water)
salt & pepper to taste, and olive oil
- Candied Turnips
- Potato & Walnut Kookoo
- Wash but do not peel potatoes. Cook in boiling water till very soft. Allow to cool, then peel and grate potatoes into a bowl. (Do not mash the potatoes). Add ground walnuts.
- Crack eggs in a separate bowl, season with salt and pepper, and add the baking powder and dissolved saffron. Stir with a fork just a couple of times to mix it a little bit. n a separate bowl crack eggs, add salt and pepper and dissolved saffron. stir with a fork just a couple of times to mix a bit. Don't whip.
- Pour egg mixture over the potato and walnut mixture. Using a fork, stir gently to mix. Continue till ingredients seem to have mixed well.
- In a lidded frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil till sizzling hot. Test when a droplet of batter puffs up if dropped into the pan, then pour entire batter into the pan. Using a spatula, press to evenly spread the batter across the pan. Lower heat to medium and with the lid ajar, cook cook for 10-12 minutes or until the bottom of the batter has cooked and congealed and is golden and crisp but not burnt.
- Using the edge of a spatula, cut batter into 4 wedges and flip each wedge over. Cover again with lid ajar and cook for another 10-12 minutes till the other side is nicely cooked and crisped as well.
- Serve with candied turnips (or yogurt, or feta cheese and fresh herbs) and bread. Best served hot, but can always re-heat as well. It is pretty palatable at room temperature as well. (Potato kookoo is rather perishable and can be refrigerated for only up to two days, max.)
- Candied Turnips
- Peel turnips and dice into 1/2 -1" cubes. (That is one way. My preferred method is to wash but not peel turnips, cut off the lid, and dig out hazelnut-sized scoops out of the turnip. I used my metal measuring spoon to scoop the pieces. You can use a melon-baller type of tool..)
- In a small frying pan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add turnips and saute for a minute or so till each piece gets a bit of color, but do not brown them. (Instead of stirring with a spoon, shake the pan to move turnips around as you saute them.)
- Add 1 cup of hot water to the pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat a bit and gently boil for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the honey in, and simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes or longer - until the syrup has thickened and is mostly absorbed the turnips.