Photo by: Colin Campbell

Aubergine kuku

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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

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. Serves six.


Preheat the oven to 210ºC/190ºC Fan/Gas Mark 6½.

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.
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.

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.

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.

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.

Perfect with

  1. Dried barberries

    Like currants but more interesting, these little rubies work their magic in egg and rice dishes

    Dried barberries


{based on 4 reviews}

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  • Recipes Disappointed
    (18/01/2015) made this yesterday, four of us ate it and TWO of us could taste "seafood" ! Most unusual. Was it the barberries? Never had them before. Also,it seemed quite damp. I love Aubergine so will try it again. Followed recipe so don't know what happened. Forgive me, could it have been the spray oil I used on the paper lining and not olive oil?

    REPLY: "Sorry it wasn't for you! It's the combination of saffron and barberries which can surprise at first but its a combo that we love. Reduce or leave out either element, if you like? And, yes, without any potatoes etc, it does have a wetter consistency than some frittatas but, again, we hope you'll like it more second time around."
  • Recipes Light and fresh
    (20/06/2014) Looks like it may be heavy but it's beautifully light, moist and fresh and just as good the next day. A new favourite!
  • Recipes Light and satisfying
    (20/02/2014) Loved making this - it was easy to put together. Turned out lovely and light and yet was very satisfying. I served it with some home grown sprouting broccoli. Delicious. Will go into my 'Make again' recipe book. Thank you.
  • Recipes Wholesome and scrumptious!
    (25/01/2014) This is a really good recipe for gluten free guests as you can easily take out the flour, or replace with gf options. The aubergine works beautifully with the saffron and barberries to give a classy alternative to quiche!