Nowruz or Persian New Year:
Nowruz means “new day” in Farsi and it’s a celebration of the changing season from winter to spring and the renewal of life that comes with it. The festival has been celebrated for thousands of years in the region and continues to be observed by Persian and Central Asian communities around the world. Iraq, India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan are some of the countries where the festival is hugely popular. It is declared as an official International observance by the United Nations because it promotes peace and solidarity.
Kookoo Sabzi – an omelette or a frittata?
All kinds of sweets, pastries, nuts and sherbets are served during Nowruz. One of the traditional dishes served on Nowruz is Kookoo Sabzi, a herbed egg dish. It is not just flavoured with herbs like any other omelette or frittata but is actually made of more leafy greens and less eggs. In cooking method it is closer to a frittata that sets like a cake and can be cut into slices. Parsley, chives, coriander, dill, spinach, lettuce and fenugreek leaves give it a tinted deep green. This dish is usually made for the Nowruz picnics, when families spend a day outside enjoying the warmth of Spring air.
Kookoo Sabzi Variations:
The classic version is made with lots of dill, cilantro, parsley and chives but you can play with available greens to make your kookoo rich and vibrant. I make mine with home-grown spinach, spring onions and coriander. Also sometimes add whatever other greens are in the vegetable box – beets greens, daikon leaves, fenugreek, etc. Other than greens, potato and eggplant versions of kookoo are also common. Addition of barberries is also common, along with walnuts. If you can’t find barberries, you can add cranberries or pomegranate seeds for a touch of sour.
Power-packed for the Health Conscious:
Eggs and greens in this simple but delicious omelette highlight the theme of renewal and birth associated with this festival and spring season. It’s different from other omelettes in this respect that the dominant taste here is that of herbs, eggs are added only to hold the herbs together. It’s mildly seasoned with salt, turmeric and black pepper. Served with some yogurt and pickled vegetables, it makes a very healthy and delicious meal for weight watchers. To make it more festive you can garnish it with some walnuts, pomegranate seeds and raisins.
For Kookoo Sabzi, Persian Herbed Frittata Recipe :
1 bunch spinach leaves, 2 cups chopped
1 bunch coriander leaves, 2 cups chopped
2 stalks spring onion, chopped
A handful fenugreek leaves, almost 1/2 a cup
A pinch turmeric
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
4 eggs beaten
Barberries, cranberries or pomegranate seeds, 1/2 cup
Walnuts, 1/2 cup (optional)
This Is What You Do :
Heat butter or oil in a nonstick, medium frying pan.
Add the chopped greens, turmeric and half of barberries or pomegranate seeds (if adding any). Sauté for a while till the greens are somewhat soft.
Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Beat to mix thoroughly.
Reduce heat to low.
Pour eggs over the greens. Cover the pan and let them cook till kookoo sabzi sets like a frittata and is firm to touch.
Flip to brown the top or put in the oven for a few minutes.
Garnish with remaining berries/pomegranate seeds and walnuts.
Serve warm or room temperature with pickled vegetables, plain yogurt, bread of your choice or rice.
Serves 2 as main, 4 as side dish.