the odd couple: sunday chicken eggplant kuku with mango salsa

the menu for tonight seems like (and possibly is) an odd combination-chicken kuku (or omelette) with mango salsa- this is how it came about: yesterday i had (lazily) picked up a nice organic roast chicken to serve with a green salad for dinner. we ended up joining friends for pizza, and the chicken landed in the refrigerator-where i found it this morning as i grabbed the coconut milk for my morning coffee (i’m getting used to it). i contemplated making a chicken salad for dinner, but it’s a cloudy sunday, and the idea of a cold salad was not sitting well with me. as i thought about other options, i remembered how my grandma used to make chicken kuku with her leftover braised chicken. in iran lunch is often the main meal of the day, while dinners are served late (often after 8 or 9 PM) and on the lighter side. in summer months dinner might consist of sliced watermelon, flatbread, and feta cheese with fresh herbs, a slice of kuku with yogurt, or a cold cucumber yogurt soup (mast-o-khiar) flavored with dill and mint, topped with green raisins (recipe coming soon). back to my kuku dinner-i had a slight problem-i’ve never made chicken kuku before, and although it’s easy to find recipes, i wanted my grandma’s-so, i called my dad, and we think we’ve come up with the right ingredients to make a kuku like mashan used to make. where does the mango salsa come in? well, although my grandma never made a mango anything (i don’t think), i have four beautiful (very) ripe mangoes that need to be used today (no smoothies today, thank you), and i thought they might nicely compliment the kuku cut up in a sweet and sour salsa with cilantro and lime juice. we shall see, but i’m pretty hopeful.

onions and eggplants with turmeric

ingredients for the chicken eggplant kuku:

  • 1 large or 2 small onions-cubed
  • 1 italian eggplant, peeled and cubed (this was a last minute addition)
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 small organic chicken (leftover chicken, roast chicken, or braised chicken can be used) cut up and deboned
  • 4 organic eggs
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup oil (i use safflower)
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground saffron or strands dissolved in 1 tsp hot water
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup organic strained yogurt (greek style or lebne)
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lime,  juiced

brown the cubed onion and eggplant in a skillet with the turmeric and about 2 tbsp oil for about 3-5 minutes until soft. remove and let cool. in a bowl combine the cut up cooked chicken, cooled onion mixture, yogurt, sea salt and pepper, saffron, eggs, baking powder, and lime juice. combine thoroughly with a spatula. pour the remaining oil in a (not too) deep frying pan, and add your mixture-be careful here with your heat-keep it on high for a few short minutes, then reduce heat to medium low, and allow the kuku to cook slowly.

chicken, yogurt, onion mixture, eggs, and spices ready to be combined
the kuku mixture poured into the (not so) deep skillet

after about 10 minutes cover the kuku slightly (letting the steam out) and let it cook on med/low heat for about another 10-15 minutes. at this point the kuku should have “set” and look relatively dry (not too much liquid). you can either cut in fours and flip each piece, or flip with the help of a platter then transfer back to the pot carefully to cook the other side for another 15 minutes. the kuku can also be made in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees, by adding some oil to the top of the kuku after about 30 minutes of cooking and then cooking it more for another 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

chopped mangos, cilantro, green onions

for the mango salsa:

  • 3-4 ripe yellow mangoes-cubed
  • 2-3 finely chopped/sliced green onions (scallions)
  • 1 small bunch finely chopped organic cilantro
  • 1 tsp (if you like spicy) cayenne pepper
  • 1/2-1 lime, juiced
  • pinch of sea salt

combine well and allow the salsa to “marinate” for a good 15-20 minutes prior to serving.

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