When I think of spring, I think of green shoots and peas, rain and shy flower buds. I think of the first purple crocuses breaking through the icy ground, the joyful singing of the birds, the warmth of the sun and how it changes the smell and the stickiness of the air. I think of the majestic magnolias and the pompoms of the cherry blossoms! I think of Frito who loves to chase after squirrels that have come out of hibernation, following their every tail movement, trying – but always failing! – to get close enough for a long, curious sniff.
And then I think about what I want to make for dinner. It involves lots of tender herbs and fresh eggs.
That’s why I think of kuku sabzi, an Iranian dish that is often compared to a frittata full of greens and herbs. It’s not quite a frittata, however, as the ratio of greens to eggs is more like 4 to 1, not the other way around. The eggs are only there to act as a binder for the huge pile of herbs and lettuce, so they can form a thick pancake.
My mother says that as a child I did not eat kuku sabzi. Apparently I was one of those kids who didn’t want to eat their greens! So she would make me kuku sib zamini instead, potato kuku, which she made a bit like latkes, with grated potatoes and onion. Fried into little patties, they would get crispy like potato chips on the edges and I would eat them until my stomach started to protest.
But I’m enjoying my greens these days, and I think there’s nothing better than kuku sabzi to usher in the cool, rainy or blue, sunny days of spring.
If you are celebrating Purim, which starts tonight, this recipe could be a festive addition to your table. It would also be appropriate for a Nowruz celebration.
TIP: Kuku sabzi is a bit of a project, as it requires a lot of chopping, but feel free to use the “pulse” function on your food processor to chop the herbs into small pieces.
Kuku Sabzi (Fresh Herb Kuku)
This recipe makes a large kuku, and kuku keeps well in the fridge for a few days. But it’s also endlessly adaptable, and this recipe is easily halved.
- The garnish adds color, sweetness and tang >> but feel free to skip it and serve the kuku with just a squeeze of lemon and flatbreads on the side.
- The Persian spice blend is called advieh, it’s easy to make, and you can find it at Middle Eastern markets >> but you can also substitute a teaspoon of ground cumin and a pinch of ground cinnamon.
- This blend of herbs offers a nice balance of flavor >> but feel free to mix and match the herbs depending on what you have and the flavors you prefer. You can also substitute spinach, arugula, finely chopped chard or baby kale for some of the herbs and lettuce, but the flavor will be more subtle and less herbaceous.
- If you can’t find fenugreek >> skip it. (Don’t use fenugreek seeds, only the dried leaves.)
- Need to eat gluten-free? >> Use rice flour, cornstarch or potato starch in place of the all-purpose flour, or skip it.