Aubergine kuku

Ingredients

  • 120ml sunflower oil, plus extra to brush the baking tin
  • 4 small onions, peeled and sliced (400g)
  • 3 medium aubergines, tops removed, peeled (580g)
  • 5 free-range eggs
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 35g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 25g finely chopped parsley, plus extra to garnish
  • 1½ tsp saffron strands, dissolved in 1 tbsp of hot water
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 20g dried barberries, rinsed and dried
  • ½ tsp salt
  • black pepper
Aubergine kuku
    Serves six

A meeting with a passionate Iranian cook has pushed me to make more use of some core ingredients of this wonderful cuisine. Dried barberries (zereshk in Persian) are sold in Middle Eastern and Asian grocers. Their extreme sharpness is often used to create little "surprises" in pilavs, and our salads at Ottolenghi have recently benefited greatly from them. Kuku, which is similar to frittata, is great served at room temperature with a salad on the side. If you can't get barberries, add a tablespoon of lime juice to the mix instead.

  1. Preheat the oven to 210ºC/190ºC Fan/Gas Mark 6½.
  2. Pour the oil into a large heavy-based pan and heat well. Add the onions and sauté on a medium heat for 7 minutes or until they soften but don’t brown.
  3. Cut the aubergines in half widthways, and then cut each half into 1cm-thick slices; cut the slices into 1cm-thick strips so that you end up with batons that are 7cm or 8cm long and 1cm by 1cm wide. Add these to the cooking onion, with half a teaspoon of salt, and continue to cook on a medium–high heat, stirring occasionally and gently, so that the aubergine does not break up, for 12–14 minutes or until the aubergine is completely soft. Leave aside to cool down.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, flour, baking powder, breadcrumbs, parsley, saffron water, garlic, half a teaspoon of salt and good grind of black pepper. Once smooth fold in the barberries, aubergine and onion.
  5. Line the base and the sides of a 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper and brush the paper lightly with oil. Pour the egg mix into the tin and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown and completely cooked. Insert a skewer in the middle of cake to make sure the egg has set.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with chopped parsley, if you like. The kuku will keep in the fridge for 2 days.