Persian Cauliflower and Raisin Kuku

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Kuku might sound like a silly name but it is a delicious omelet-like pancake made in Iran. Before 1935 Iran was called Persia and Jewish people have lived in Persia for almost 2500 years! When King Solomon’s Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE thousands of Jews were exiled to Babylonia which, at that time, included the lands of Persia. You might know one famous city in Persia? Shushan is in Persia and Esther and Mordecai lived there!
Kuku are light and fluffy and often contain vegetables and green herbs. Here are two recipes, one using cauliflower and one with spinach. Persians introduced the Moors to spinach and cauliflower was introduced to Persian cuisine from neighboring Asia Minor (now part of Turkey). After the Moors conquered Spain they introduced the vegetables to the Jews and, along with raisins, were favored by the Spanish Moors and Jews for centuries. When the Jews were exiled from Spain in 1492 their cooking traditions continued. So, whenever you see a recipe that combines raisins with spinach or cauliflower, together you can tell that it is a dish with Jewish connections!
I have added sweet raisins to the cauliflower kuku. This combination is often found in dishes around the Mediterranean and is a hit with children of all ages.
Whenever you see the combination of spinach with pine nuts and raisins its origins are always Jewish influenced by the Arab Moors from long ago.
Najmieh Batmanglij is my, and most Americans, go-to authority on Persian cuisine. Her recipes inspired me to create the following.

Kuku can be served hot out of the oven, room temperature or cold. This is a perfect recipe to make with children because it can be served whenever you have time to eat it as a snack or re-warmed as a light lunch or brunch dish.

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 4-6 ServingsServings

Ingredients

  • 20 ounce bag frozen cauliflower (1/2 head of large cauliflower)
  • 5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 2 medium onions, cut in half and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped or put through garlic press
  • 5 large eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper, about 15 turns of a pepper mill
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 Tablespoons dark raisins

Preparation

1.  If cauliflower is fresh then chop into small pieces, if frozen, then defrost and drain in a colander.

2. Heat a large frying pan on high for 15 seconds.  Add 3T. oil and heat for 10 seconds more. Lower heat to medium.   Add cauliflower, onions and salt to pan, stir to combine, cover pan, and then cook for 3 minutes.

3. Uncover pan and sauté until cauliflower is soft and onions are light golden brown.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.  Do not burn garlic.

4. Transfer cauliflower/onion mixture to a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher until cauliflower becomes a coarse puree. Set aside.

5.  Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Grease a 1 ½ quart casserole or 10 inch Pyrex pie plate with the additional 2 T. oil.

6. Using a fork combine the eggs, pepper, turmeric, cumin, and raisins in a 1 quart bowl.   Add to the cauliflower and mix to thoroughly combine.

7. Pour egg mixture into oiled dish and bake on the center shelf of the oven for 30 minutes or until top is golden and eggs are cooked in the center.  Serve immediately or at room temperature.

NOTE: Cut the cooled kuku into 1 inch squares and place on a plate with toothpicks for bite sized snacks or appetizers.

Tina’s Tidbits:

  • This is a good recipe to introduce cooking at the stove because the mixture won’t splatter and scare a young child
  • It is very important that the child be standing on a stable surface—CHAIRS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE!
  • Make sure that the stove is at least midriff height.  Faces should be far away from cooking utensil.
  • Hot casseroles should be removed from the oven by an adult or a supervised child over the age of 10.

Kitchen conversations:

  • Have you ever eaten in a Persian restaurant?  If so, what were some of your favorite dishes?
  • If not, why not look in the phone book to see if there is a Persian restaurant in your town?  You might be surprised to see that there is!
  • Why not create your own kuku?  What vegetable or vegetables would you like to use?  What spices would make it taste good?

 Source: Entree to Judaism For Families