This Instant Pot Kuku sabzi (or kookoo sabzi) is an aromatic crustless quiche filled with different herbs and greens. It’s a staple dish to celebrate the first day of Spring and the Persian New Year (Nowruz). You can make it on the stove top, in the oven or in the instant pot pressure cooker.
Life keeps barreling onward whether we are ready for the next day or not. I can’t believe March is here. Don’t get me wrong. I am cheering for the mountain tops that spring is around the corner, my most favoritest season. The days are getting longer, the weather warmer and more and more flowers are blooming.
March means the first day of spring is almost upon us, March 20th. And that day is also the Persian new year, Nowruz (or norouz/noruz). It is a beautiful holiday celebrated in the Iran for thousands of years, no matter what religion you are. And for the first time EVER, I’m hosting a noruz dinner for the whole family.
Why this recipe is so great
There are many varieties of Persian kookoo. Kookoo (also spelled kuku) is similar to a frittata or a crustless quiche, but is made with fewer eggs. It is not as light and fluffy like a quiche, nor is there any other dairy mixed into it. It is always baked with a feature vegetable like potatoes, onions and even string beans.
In kuku sabzi fresh herbs take center stage, not the eggs. There are just enough eggs are used to bind it all together. I like to add a couple more eggs than many other traditional recipes do because of personal preference.
The herb mixture varies depending on who is preparing the dish. In this recipe, I use 6 large eggs. If you want a more traditional version, use 4 eggs and reduce the baking powder to ½ teaspoon.
I thought I’d modernize the menu a bit. I have been using my instant pot more and more and have created several great Persian recipes in the instant pot.
These are super popular on my blog and YouTube channel, so I for nowruz I decided to share with you my recipe to make Instant Pot kuku sabzi.
This kuku is full of flavor from all of the herbs in it. The dried barberries (zereshk) add touches of sweet and sour in every bite. The walnuts add crunch.
It is a very unique and delicious dish that you do not find in an ordinary quiche.
Foods you eat to celebrate nowruz
Like the turkey dinner you eat for Thanksgiving, there is a basic meal plan set for Persian families to enjoy during nowruz. Everything on the menu, like the Persian new year itself, is filled with symbolism. The main course is typically Sabzi Polo Mahi, herb rice with fish. Fish has long symbolized life and good luck and green is the color symbolizing fruitfulness.
Ash-e Reshteh is also served. Persian ash is a thick and hearty soup. And this ash is cooked with beans, fresh herbs and Persian noodles (reshteh), which is said to symbolically help one succeed in life. And yeah, I have both the traditional ashe reshteh recipe on my blog as well as ashe reshteh made in the instant pot.
Another symbolic dish served during noruz is kookoo (kuku) sabzi. It is like a frittata, but with less eggs and baked in with lots and lots fresh herbs and green vegetables. It is believed that eating kuku sabzi will bring prosperity and happiness in the year to come. And of course all of the green herbs symbolize the rebirth of nature during spring.
Ingredients you need
- Saffron in hot water: Crush some saffron in a mortar and pestle and let it steep in hot water while you collect and prepare the other ingredients. The longer it steeps, the deeper the color and aroma.
- Green onions: You can use fresh green onions or a leek.
- Fresh herbs: I choose to use fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro and dill. Some Persians choose to use dried herbs. Sometimes I add in spinach or kale in my kuku for nutrtion.
- Fenugreek: I cannot find fresh fenugreek so I always use dried.
- Walnuts: Walnuts are the preferred nut to use, but you can substitute with pecans.
- Zereshk (dried barberries): If you cannot find zereshk then use dried cranberries.
- Pantry staples: extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, baking powder
Tips on pressure cooking
To make this kookoo sabzi, you will need a few extra pieces in your instant cooking arsenal. First, you will need a casserole pot, baking dish or springform pan that will fit inside your instant pot.
Secondly, you will need one of those slings that hold your pan and lets you remove it in and out of your pot easily. Mine came with the wire rack you see in the video/pictures.
But I found it difficult to remove when the quiche was cooked and everything was hot. I recently bought this silicone version and it makes removing the quiche so much easier and keeps me from burning my fingers!
You can also make one out of aluminum foil, but what a waste if you just throw it away when you are done.
In all honesty, there isn’t much time saved in cooking a quiche in the pressure cooker versus baking in the oven. But for those of you who have limited kitchen space and like to cook in your pressure cooker, this recipe is for you.
1. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron threads until powdered (about ⅛ teaspoon). Add the hot water and swish it around. Let saffron steep in the hot water and set aside.
2. Chop the green onions and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add chopped parsley, cilantro and dill to the bowl.
3. Heat your instant pot to sauté. When pot is hot, add olive oil then add chopped herbs and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
4. Stir in dried fenugreek and continue cooking until herbs are dark green and cooked through, about minutes. Transfer herbs to a mixing bowl and let it cool to room temperature. Rinse out and clean inside of instant pot.
5. When herbs are cool, stir in walnuts, zereshk, salt, pepper and baking powder.
6. Whisk together eggs and stir in with the herb mixture.
7. Lightly oil a 7 x 3-inch cake pan or bowl. This bowl needs to fit inside your instant pot. Pour herb mixture into prepared pan/bowl. Pour 1 ½ cups water into your instant pot. Put your pan/bowl in your instant pot’s sling/rack and gently place inside the instant pot with the water.
8. Close and lock the lid, making sure the steam valve is set to seal. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes with 10 minute natural release. Release any remaining steam and slowly unlock and remove the lid.
Using the sling handles, gentle lift the pan out and let it cool for 5-10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm or cold.
Recipe tips and FAQs
You can serve kookoo alone or with yogurt, lavash, radishes and/or cucumbers. Besides serving it at a Persian New Year feast, you can serve kuku for breakfast, lunch or even an appetizer.
- A pinch of saffron threads
- 2 TBS hot water
- 6 green onions (or 1 leek)
- 2 cups chopped parsley
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- ½ cup chopped dill
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried fenugreek
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup zereshk (dried barberries)
- 6 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Using a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron threads until powdered (about ⅛ teaspoon).
- Add the hot water and swish it around. Let saffron steep in the hot water and set aside.
- Chop the green onions and transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Add chopped parsley, cilantro and dill to the bowl.
- Heat your instant pot to sauté. When pot is hot, add olive oil.
- Add chopped herbs and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in dried fenugreek and continue cooking until herbs are dark green and cooked through, about minutes.
- Transfer herbs to a mixing bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
- Rinse out and clean inside of instant pot.
- When herbs are cool, stir in walnuts, zereshk, salt, pepper and baking powder.
- Whisk together eggs and stir in with the herb mixture.
- Lightly oil a 7 x 3-inch cake pan or bowl. This bowl needs to fit inside your instant pot.
- Pour herb mixture into prepared pan/bowl.
- Pour 1 ½ cups water into your instant pot.
- Put your pan/bowl in your instant pot's sling/rack and gently place inside the instant pot with the water.
- Close and lock the lid, making sure the steam valve is set to seal.
- Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes with 10 minute natural release.
- Release any remaining steam and slowly unlock and remove the lid.
- Using the sling handles, gentle lift the pan out and let it cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Cut into wedges and serve warm or cold.
Serve with the rest of your nowruz menu or as a breakfast with lavash and yogurt.
Traditional kuku sabzi has less egg in it. If you want, use only 4 eggs and ½ teaspoon baking powder.
If using leeks instead of green onions, cut the leek in half lengthwise and rinse out all of the dirt. Leeks are notoriously dirty, so clean them thoroughly and dry completely before chopping and cooking.
Serving Size:1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 186mgSodium: 362mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 8g
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