Iranian Style Eggplant, Onion and Saffron Eggs!
Kuku-ye bademjan is sometimes compared to an Italian Frittata. In fact, many food historians state that the Frittata originally was created in Persia long ago. Persia has a long history of great egg cookery and egg entrées from this region can be served for any meal. Items like Kuku-ye bademjan can be one of many items offered in a large banquet style mezze spread or it can be prepared with a smaller pan for one or two guests.
A small cast iron skillet or a casserole dish can be used to make Kuku-ye bademjan. The cast iron skillet method yields more authentic finished product, because of the way that seasoned cast iron retains heat.
For today's recipe, the eggplant, onions and garlic are caramelized to a light brown color and they are thoroughly mashed before the eggs are added. The egg and mashed vegetable mixture is prepared like batter before being added to the hot cast iron skillet. The Kuku will not stick to the skillet at all, as long as the skillet is very hot before pouring the eggplant mixture into it. The Kuku-ye bademjan should be moist and fluffy after baking and not dried out or baked too dark of a color.
The health benefits of saffron are well known. Saffron Water is used extensively in Persian cuisine and this product is available in Mediterranean food markets. Saffron Water can also be made by steeping Safflower Saffron in hot water. Safflower Saffron sells for a very modest price and the flavor is mild. Crocus sativa Saffron has a very strong flavor that is better suited for other recipes. If Crocus sativa Saffron is added, then be sure to only add a pinch for flavor.
This recipe yields 4 petite portions. (8" diameter skillet size)
Step 1: Select 1 large eggplant that weighs 1 3/4 to 2 pounds.
Use a knife to peel the eggplant.
Step 2: Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 3/8" thick slices.
Stack the slices and then cut the slices in half.
Step 3: Place the eggplant slices side by side on a sheet pan.
Sprinkle a few pinches of sea salt on both sides of each eggplant slice.
Let the eggplant sweat for 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 4: Rinse the salt off of the eggplant under cold running water.
Place the rinsed eggplant on a wire screen rack over a drip pan and let them air dry. (Or pat the eggplant pieces dry with a pastry towel.)
Step 5: Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
Add 1/2 cup of blended olive oil.
Pan fry the eggplant slices in small batches.
Flip each eggplant slice, so they cook evenly.
Pan fry till the eggplant is a golden brown color and it becomes soft.
*Add oil as necessary, till all of the eggplant slices are cooked.
Step 6: As each eggplant slice finishes cooking, place them in a mixing bowl.
When all of the pan fried eggplant are piled in the bowl, let the bowl set for 10 minutes, so the carryover heat softens the eggplant even more.
Thoroughly mash the eggplant till it resembles a coarse paste.
Set the bowl of mashed eggplant aside.
Step 7: Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
Add 1 cup of julienne sliced onion. (1/8" wide strips)
Sauté till the garlic and onion is lightly caramelized.
Step 8: Add the caramelized onions and garlic to the eggplant in the mixing bowl.
Mix the ingredients together and set the bowl aside.
Step 9: Place 3 tablespoons of Saffron Water in a second mixing bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice.
Add 1 tablespoon of minced Italian Parsley.
Add 2 large eggs.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
Add 2 tablespoons of flour.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.
Add sea salt and black pepper to taste. (About 2 to 3 pinches.)
Whisk till the ingredients are combined.
Step 10: Add the eggplant, garlic and onion mixture to the saffron egg batter.
Stir the ingredients till they are combined.
Step 11: Select a 7" to 8" wide seasoned cast iron skillet.
Brush the skillet with blended olive oil.
Heat the skillet in a 375ºF oven.
Step 12: When the skillet becomes hot, remove it from the oven.
Immediately pour the eggplant mixture into the hot cast iron skillet.
Step 13: Return the skillet to the 375ºF oven.
Bake till the egg batter is fully cooked and golden brown highlights appear.
*The finished Kuku-ye bademjan should be fairly firm and moist like a French quiche.
Step 14: Set the hot skillet of Kuku-ye bademjanon a serving platter.
Cut the Kuku-ye bademjan into pie shaped portions.
Serve with pomegranate fruit and yogurt on the side.
Viola! A classic Persian Kuku-ye bademjan for those who seek something exciting for breakfast!