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Kookoo-ye-Morgh: Chicken and Aubergine Egg Bake

Chicken kookoo This is one of my mother-in-law’s current favourites, and as I have dedicated Snackistan to her (shh – don’t tell her – it’s a surprise), it seemed appropriate to kick off with her recipe therein. Kookoo are a whole range of egg based Persian snacks, ranging from sweet omelette like creations to herb and aubergine croquettes. They are perfect snack fodder: eat them with bread for breakfast, lunch or dinner, take them to school or on picnics, or just stand and scoff them as they come out of the oven/pan. This one is dead easy, as it is just squidged together and baked – there is no hanging over a sizzling frying pan, or trying to shape stuff to look pretty. And it is ridiculously moreish: Afi (the aforementioned m-i-l) makes a whole load and hides them in different tubs in the fridge so that at least a few survive through to the next day. It is unfortunately only a matter of time before some major (plastic) sandwich chain cotton on to how good they are and corrupt them beyond recognition. The McKookoo? The Kookoo Sub? The Kookoo King? You read it here first.
  • 2 aubergines, calices removed, sliced
  • knob of butter + sploosh of oil for frying
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 600-750g cooked (leftover) chicken (or turkey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron, steeped in boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or so) ground black pepper
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
Verim? (Which is Persian for ‘Shall we begin?’) Sprinkle the aubergine slices with salt, and sandwich them between two pieces of kitchen towel: leave for around twenty minutes before wiping off all the moisture that will duly have been extracted. Heat the oil in a pan, and fry off the onion, garlic and aubergine until the former is soft and browned, and the latter cooked through. Set aside to cool. Next mash the cooked chicken with the spices and seasoning, and then pound in the cooled aubergine mixture – probably easiest to do all of this in a blender. Finally stir in the eggs. Grease a large oven tray (we use one that is roughly 38cm x 24cm) and press the chicken mixture into the bottom: it should form a flat layer around 2cm thick. Cover with foil and bake in a pre-heated oven (gas mark 6/200 C) for around 25 minutes, then remove the foil and give it another 15 minutes or until the top of the kookoo is firm and golden in colour. Cut into squares (or strips, or hexagons or whatever) whilst still warm. Hide it carefully from your all-devouring progeny and ration as required.
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