Monday, August 7, 2017

Persian herb omelette (Kuku sabzi) with feta

I’ve always appreciated the magical qualities of eggs; their ability to turn into fluffy meringue, to create a thick and rich crème anglaise and of course add volume to cakes of any kind.

Eggs are one of the few foods I would gladly eat every single day. They are so versatile: poached, on top of avocado toast; scrambled into silky ribbons and gently placed over toasted sourdough or mixed with freshly grated tomatoes thus creating the incredibly delicious Greek strapatsada/kagianas; fried in extra virgin olive oil, sunny side up, yolks oozing golden liquid, whites all lacy and crispy; soft boiled and burst open onto a bowlful of chicken fried rice. The possibilities are endless, and exciting, much like this omelette. A Persian herb omelette with feta. An omelette unlike any other, because let’s face it, the Iranians know how to eat.

It is called Kuku sabzi and I have found many interpretations of this dish around. This one is my favorite. It’s a dish that’s traditionally served on the Persian New Year and it involves copious amounts of herbs being held together by eggs, because that’s what this is, herbs with eggs rather than eggs with herbs.

There’s walnuts, turmeric and dried fenugreek in there, and also barberries, a very traditional Iranian dried fruit that’s acidic, quite tart and a tiny bit sweet. There’s also feta which is not traditional but I am Greek and a feta-fiend so of course I had to add it, and it bulked up the omelette as well, making it even more filling and satisfying. I served it with Greek yoghurt sprinkled with some more fresh herbs and it was the best meal ever.

The herbs I used in this dish are parsley, dill, mint and chives. Coriander is usually added as well but I am categorically opposed to adding this herb in my food, so I omitted it. It’s a very easy dish to make and the only thing that’s tricky is flipping the omelette. Υou’ll surely need a nonstick pan that you trust, otherwise I would suggest you finish the omelette in the oven for a couple of minutes so you don’t run the risk of it breaking up.

It’s a delicious and savory omelette. The aromatic herbs are very fresh and vibrant, the walnuts give their crunchy texture and earthy flavor, and there’s a gentle spiciness from the turmeric and the fenugreek which is absolutely essential in this dish as it makes it incredibly fragrant. The fruity burst of tangy flavor, acidity and sourness of the barberries blends well with the rest of the ingredients, and the soft feta adds creaminess and saltiness.

As it cooks, the omelette creates a nice thin crust around and at the bottom, yet it remains slightly soft, juicy and creamy in the middle. It is like an herby, fluffy cloud that would be a crime to overcook. It is such a treat and a special dish to serve for brunch, lunch or light supper with some good bread. Hope you enjoy it!

Persian herb omelette (Kuku sabzi) with feta

If you can’t find barberries, you can substitute with dried sour cherries or cranberries; however, they’re not the same.

The size of the pan makes a difference as to how many minutes the omelette needs cooking and how thick/thin it will be. My pan has a 24 cm in diameter bottom and I would suggest you use the same sized frying pan. Also, use a frying pan that has curved wide edges, not straight edges, because you will need to slide the omelette onto a plate in order to invert it.

Fresh, young spinach leaves can also be added in this dish so feel free to experiment.

Yield: 8 pieces (enough for 4 people)

6 large eggs
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (if your feta is very salty, use ¾ tsp salt)
Freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp fenugreek powder (ground dried fenugreek seeds)
1 cup (20 g) fresh, flat-leaf parsley leaves and thin stalks, finely chopped
1 cup (25 g) fresh chives, finely chopped
1 cup (10 g) dill leaves and thin stalks, finely chopped
Fresh mint leaves picked from 3-4 stalks, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 large garlic clove, mashed
1/3 cup (35 g) walnut halves (preferably toasted), chopped coarsely
2 Tbsp (12 g) dried barberries
120 g feta, crumbled
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

A few extra chopped herbs, to scatter over the top
Edible dried rose petals, to scatter over the top

Greek yoghurt, for serving (optional)

Special equipment: wide, non-stick frying pan (if it a light pan, it’s even better, because you can easily maneuver it), heatproof soft rubber/silicone spatula

In a medium-sized bowl, add the eggs and whisk them lightly. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, turmeric and fenugreek, and whisk well to dissolve and incorporate them in the eggs. Then add all the chopped herbs, spring onions and garlic to the egg mixture followed by the walnuts, the barberries and the crumbled feta, and mix lightly with the whisk to combine.

In a frying pan (see specifications above) add the olive oil and heat over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the egg mixture, spread it evenly with a heatproof, soft rubber/silicone spatula, shaking the pan at the same time. Turn heat down to medium and cook for 4 minutes, then turn heat down to low and cook for a further 6 minutes until the omelette has set at the bottom and around the edges, and when you shake the pan, it moves, which means that it is not stuck to the bottom of the pan (it should have a very thin crust on the bottom). It should have set on top a bit as well.

Note: While the omelette is cooking, run the spatula a few times around the outside of the omelette as this will give it a nice round edge and will prevent it from sticking to the pan.

Now you need to invert the omelette. To do this, first remove the pan from the heat. Then slide the cooked side of the omelette carefully onto a large and wide enough plate that will fit it all in. Then invert the pan, placing it over the omelette, and with one swift and smooth move, invert the plate so that the omelette falls back into the pan, with the cooked side now up. Return the pan on the heat and cook over a low heat for a 2-3 more minutes. It should be cooked through but remain moist and soft in the center, not dried out. It is a fluffy omelette.

Note: If you’re worried that your omelette will break up if you try to invert it, you can certainly just put the omelette in the oven to finish cooking without having to invert it. Just preheat your oven to 180°C and after the initial cooking based on the instructions above, instead of inverting it, place it on the top rack for 2-3 minutes or until set to cook the top part.

Slide the cooked omelette onto a serving plate or invert it onto the plate, depending on which side looks better (if that matters to you).
You can serve it hot, warm or col, cut into wedges, like a pizza, sprinkled with some more fresh herbs and a few dried rose petals.
Accompany it with some Greek yoghurt and fresh bread or whatever else you wish.


  1. This is so beautiful, Magda - and contains so many wonderful flavors. I have head of this from my Persian friends, as well, and must try it someday. (I am happy to report that my local grocery store is now importing real Greek feta cheese! Pretty expensive, but definitely worth it!)

  2. Hi,
    This looks to be a very interesting dish. I look forward to trying it. However, the whole description and detail is way too wordy. I recommend that you keep your information more concise in this age of brief, fast communication.