Friday, March 15, 2013

Advieh, Kuku and Barberries


Now this was a fun title to type! Advieh, kuku and barberries are not usually words in conversation for me, but now happily they are becoming more so. For our cooking adventure with Tasting Jerusalem this month, we’ve been feasting on barberries.


When shopping at our local Middle Eastern market recently, Goodies, I noticed dried barberries in the fridge section and thought of picking some up. Later that same day I learned they would be our cooking ingredient for March! It was meant to be, and the next day I had a stash of barberries in my fridge. Barberries are tiny, ruby-colored berries that are common in Middle Eastern cooking, particularly in Persian cuisine. Often, dried cranberries or cherries are substituted in recipes if barberries are not available. I appreciate their burst of tart flavor and the pretty pop of crimson color they add to dishes.


A dish I’d been eager to make from Jerusalem: A Cookbook that includes barberries is the Fava Bean Kuku. A kuku is a Persian egg dish, similar to a frittata. Fresh herbs, veggies or sometimes meat are combined with eggs and spices, cooked and served in wedges. Our family loves egg dishes (scrambled eggs are our fast food) and I’ve made fresh herb kukus in the past, so I knew we’d like one with beans in it. We do not have any fresh fava beans yet, so instead I substituted kidney beans. I also added parsley, chives and cilantro in addition to the dill and mint that were already in the recipe.


Another change I made to the kuku was the spices used. I have a long love for Persian food which began when I was a student at UCLA. Shamshiri Grill was my favorite restaurant, and we still make a point of eating there whenever we visit LA. A few years after moving to Seattle, I bought A Taste of Persia by Najmieh Batmanglij and my copy is now spattered and worn. A spice mix that is common in the kukus and many other recipes in this book is a Persian blend called advieh.


The basic recipe includes dried rose petals (of which I have a large bag after last month’s cooking!), cinnamon, cardamom and cumin. As you may know by now, I can’t resist an opportunity to make a spice blend! After a little further reading, I learned of other spices that can be included, too, and set out to make my own mix by adding coriander and nutmeg to the basic recipe. I love the research and learning that cooking from Jerusalem inspires!


The advieh adds a marvelous touch of dusky, warm spice to the kuku, the fresh herbs sing of spring, and the barberries are little bursts of welcome bright flavor. I served wedges with dollops of thick yogurt and it made a lovely, light supper.


Another stunning dish that comes from Jerusalem is the Lamb Meatballs with Barberries. Ground lamb is mixed with parsley, spices and barberries to create meatballs which are fried and then simmered with figs in chicken broth and white wine. All I can say is wow ... this is a heavenly dish. The barberries provide a tartness that complements the rich lamb nicely. The figs blend in beautifully and the finished dish is showered in chopped, fresh herbs. I served it with barley and we were all very happy.


Advieh (Persian Spice Blend)
Inspired by A Taste of Persia
By Najmieh K. Batmanglij
Makes 1/2 cup

2 tablespoons dried rose petals, ground with a mortar and pestle
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground with a mortar and pestle
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon cardamom
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Stir all the spices together until blended. Store in a covered jar and keep in a cool spot.

Kidney Bean Kuku
Adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook 
By Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Serves 6-8 (10 inch quiche pan)

5 tablespoons barberries (can substitute chopped dried cranberries)
7 eggs
1 tablespoon rice flour (can substitute all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1-2 teaspoons advieh (to taste)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh chives, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Thick, plain yogurt for serving (optional)

Place the barberries in a small bowl and cover with warm water. Set aside to soak.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10 inch quiche pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together and add the rice flour, baking powder and advieh. Stir until the flour, baking powder and advieh are well mixed. Add the garlic, fresh herbs, kidney beans, salt and pepper and gently stir together. Drain the barberries and stir them into the egg mixture. Pour the egg mix into the prepared quiche pan and pop it in the oven. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the kuku is puffed and firmly set. Remove from the oven and serve warm with dollops of plain yogurt.

28 comments:

  1. First of all, thank for telling me about Goodies! I am making a trip there. Second, these flavors sound so interesting and beautiful!

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    1. Thank you, Alyssa! I think you'll like Goodies - the owner is warm and helpful, and his homemade green sauce is marvelous. I always discover something new and delicious when I stop in!

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  2. What can I say Hannah - you inspire me and make me want to move to Seattle (maybe even rent a room in your house!!!). I just learned something new - did not know about advieh. You always make things your own but in such a simple and yet sophisticated way. What a treasure to have you cooking with #TastingJrslm. I am dying to make the kuku and the lamb meatballs. Hopefully next week. I loved the rice!

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    1. Beth, you are too kind! What a pleasure it will be when we can do some cooking together. Can't wait to share with you! Wouldn't a #TastingJrslm retreat be fun? I'll be making the rice soon. Hope you're having a good week!

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  3. I've had that cookbook on my wishlist for ages, and now I'm really, really, really wanting it!!

    I've never come across barberries here, but I would definitely try substituting with cranberries and giving this dish a go. Love the sound of all those flavours. I especially want to try your Persian spice blend.

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    1. Jerusalem is a kitchen-worthy book, Sue (it won't spend much time on the shelf...) and I hope you can dive into it soon. I think you can order barberries online if you ever want to try them, but cranberries are excellent to substitute. Hope you like the advieh, too. Enjoy your week!

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  4. I've never been to Goodies, but now I'm intrigued! Thanks (as always) for my ongoing geography lessons, not to mention great recipes!

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    1. My pleasure, Erina! I hope you can pop into Goodies sometime. The owner is wonderful and always suggests something new to try. His green sauce is delish, too! Hope you're having a great week!

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  5. I bet the spell checker on your computer had a field day with this post! Blogging nerdiness aside, this looks just wonderful. It looks like Spring in a dish. Wow.

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    1. Thanks, Brooke! Yeah, I just ignored the poor spell checker. The kuku definitely celebrates spring - so fresh and green. :)

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  6. I love Kuku, it was always on my meal rotation weekly, It's so easy and delicious. I love your recipe, I usually made Kuku sabzi but never with the kidney beans, what a wonderful addition. The zareshk or barberries are so good in this. I will save your recipe for advieh, it's been a long time since I have made this spice blend and never used rose petals, I love it. I am so enjoying your journey.

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    1. Thank you, Suzanne! I'm delighted you are along on this journey. I'd love to know what mix of spices you use in your advieh - so fun to share and learn together. The barberries are terrific in the kuku. I just love their tartness. Often, dried cranberries can be a bit over-sweetened, so these little berries are a refreshing change. Enjoy your week!

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  7. I can see that I'm going to have to find a Middle Eastern market. Your dish and all the dishes that everyone seems to be preparing from the Jerusalem cookbook sound wonderful...I think I need to buy the cookbook as well. Love your beautiful photos.

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    1. Thank you, Karen! Very kind of you. And I do recommend adding Jerusalem to your cookbook collection - I think you'll enjoy it. If you do start cooking from it, please come join our group. We'd love to have you! :)

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  8. This was a fun title to read, too! And really an interesting post. Love the flavors you're discussing - I need to find a Middle Eastern market. And buy that cookbook. Really good stuff - thanks so much.

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    1. Thank you, John! Jerusalem's recipes are loaded with different flavors, that's for sure! It's fun to taste and explore them all. If you pick up a copy of the book, I think you'll be keeping it close to your kitchen - it's a little addictive! Hope you're having a good week. :)

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  9. The kuku looks delicious! as does the advieh spice blend ... and so does the lamb, glad to hear it's heavenly! beautiful and colorful pictures Hannah, everything is so appetizing!

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    1. Thank you so much, Orly! Cooking from Jerusalem is certainly rewarding with all the flavors, textures and colors. I'm happy we're cooking together!

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  10. This looks incredible! I love the mixture of spices, herbs and flowers (and the correspondingly unique title!). I found myself engrossed for hours in their other cookbook, Plenty, and I can only imagine more hours engrossed in Jerusalem. Greatness all around!

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    1. Hi Andrea! I do love Plenty and I've spent many hours immersed in it, too. Jerusalem has been no different! Recipes in both books are just loaded with fresh herbs and amazing spices...definitely a big part of their appeal. I appreciate you stopping by - happy spring to you!

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  11. What a colorful and fresh treat! I love the use of dried rose here :)

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    1. Thank you, Kiran! Cooking with dried roses is new to me, and I'm delighted to have discovered them. I love all the fresh herbs used in Jerusalem, too. They definitely add to the color and appeal of the dishes!

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  12. Thank you for sharing beautiful Jerusalem's recipes with us! Lots of different flavors are in the dishes and I wish I have a chance to taste all (or even some!) of the dishes! I enjoy seeing unique plates/bowls you use all the time too. I love your taste. :)

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    1. It's a pleasure to share some cooking from Jerusalem! You're right, many unique flavors are in the dishes. And they're always so pretty with all the fresh herbs! I picked up some of my plates and bowls in Israel and it's fun to use them, especially when cooking from Jerusalem!

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  13. I've missed so much in the last two weeks! The kuku is gorgeous - love that yours is ample on the herbs. Also have to admit, I'm intrigued by the idea of strawberries in charoset. We'll have to have a go at it.

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    1. Thank you, Michelle! Fresh herbs celebrate spring so nicely - I'm using lots of them right now. And I hope you enjoy the haroset with strawberries! We're big fans and ate many batches of it last week. :)

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  14. Hi Hannah, I love the kuku...I haven't made that one yet but it will most definitely be on the to do list. I am loving all the Ottolenghi that I keep bumping in to & that I am experimenting with....it has reinvigorated me a little :) I also love Persian, all those spices & rose petals add such a lovely touch of the exotic. I must go & get my mitts on some barberries...I have not yet had the pleasure.

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    1. Thank you, Mairi! There is so much to love with Ottolenghi's recipes, isn't there? I am continually inspired. I hope you can find barberries - they are marvelously tart and fruity. And Persian flavors are always terrific!

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