Mirza Qasemi میرزا قاسمی (Persian Aubergine Scramble)

I would describe Mirza Qasemi as an aubergine and tomato scramble. You can have it as a starter with bread, as a snack or as a side dish.

I wish I could see Iran in person but as I know this will probably never happen, I have settle for “travelling” there through its cuisine. As with most of my dishes, I’ve only ever cooked them by myself and have never had the original made by an actual native but I do try to get recipes from the natives especially the old family recipes and if not I just blag it; the end result tends to be just as delicious.

I was given the recipe to this dish on a piece of paper written in Farsi by a friend of a friend of a friend but I lost it. One day, when I least expected it, I found it but it was in a right state. Its disastrous state and the fact it was written in Farsi didn’t help but as I am familiar with the Arabic alphabet (similar to the Persian alphabet) I managed to decipher it using an online translator. Not ideal but it did the trick; more or less.

Without further ado, here it is.

Ingredients

2 large aubergines

3 large ripe tomatoes, grated

1 garlic head, sliced

1 tsp. turmeric powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

Salt, to taste

3 medium eggs, beaten

Fresh parsley, chopped to garnish

Method

1 First you need to cook the aubergines. You can do this two ways: either baked in the oven or roasted over an open flame.

To cook in the oven: preheat oven to 200ºc and bake the aubergines for 25-35 minutes. Make some incisions in the aubergine to prevent it from exploding in the oven. When ready, remove the skin and dice into pieces

To cook over an open flame: place the aubergines directly on top of the stove burner and roast until the skin has blackened, turn until all sides are cooked. It should take a few minutes on each side. When cooked plunge in ice cold water, remove the skin and roughly dice the flesh. This method imparts a smoky taste to the overall dish.

Mirza Qasemi 1

2 Fry garlic slices in plenty olive oil and then add turmeric and cinnamon. Add diced tomatoes and cook for 5-10 minutes, until they have broken down.

3 Once the tomatoes have broken down, add the aubergine pulp and cook on a medium flame; lightly mash all the ingredients together until everything is well incorporated.

4 Make some holes in the aubergine mixture and pour the beaten eggs in. Let the eggs cook for a bit and when they have nearly set combine all the ingredients together. The trick is to not stir everything together too early because otherwise the eggs will basically disappear.

Mirza Qasemi 2

!نوش جان Noushe jan, as my lovely Iranians would say. That’s bon appetit to you and me.

Mirza Qasemi

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Kuku Sabzi کوکو سبزی (Persian Fresh Herb Omelette with Walnuts and Cranberries)

The closest thing to a “kuku” would be an omelette. There are many types of kuku in the Persian kitchen repertoire such as Kuku Sibzamini (Potato), Kuku-ye Shevid-o Baqala (Fava beans), Kuku-ye Morgh (chicken) but my favourite is by far, Kuku Sabzi (fresh herbs).

You don’t have to limit yourself to the herbs in this recipe; this is what I would call my base recipe. Depending on what I have on hand I may add chives, mint, dill, heck even lettuce but there is always parsley and coriander. Go crazy and use your own favourite herbs.

Traditionally zereshk (barberries) are used but as they are next to impossible to find in my city so I normally substitute for cranberries.

As I’ve had disastrous experiences flipping omelettes, I bake this kuku in the oven. It may not be traditional but the taste is still good so I really don’t care.

Ingredients

1 large bunch fresh parsley, chopped

1 large bunch fresh coriander, chopped

2 spring onions, chopped

1 large handful walnuts, roughly chopped

1 large handful barberries, soaked in water for 10mins.

5 large eggs, beaten

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. turmeric

Salt & pepper, to taste

Butter, to coat the bottom and the sides of the ovenproof dish

Method

1 Preheat oven to 180ºc and coat the inside of an ovenproof dish with butter.

2 In a bowl, combine all the herbs, onions, walnuts, barberries (cranberries), olive oil, flour, baking powder, turmeric, salt, pepper and mix well. Pour over the beaten eggs and mix well until everything is well coated. It shouldn’t be a runny mixture like a western omelette; the egg in this recipe is mainly just to hold everything together.

3 Pour the mixture in the ovenproof dish and cover loosely with aluminium foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes.

4 Let cool and slice. I personally prefer to eat this kuku cold but it’s up to your own personal taste.

Kookoo Sabzi