May 26, 2013

Kookoo-ye Marchoobeh - Persian-Style Asparagus Frittata with Fresh Herbs, Walnuts and Barberries

کوکوی مارچوبه (Asparagus kookoo) recipe came about as a result of a recent trip to my local vegetable market where I noticed bundles of fresh green asparagus neatly tied and arranged on the shelves. I enjoy the taste of fresh asparagus either steamed or grilled plain with just a little bit of coarse salt. However, as I reached to pick a bundle up, it dawned on me that I had never cooked a Persian-style asparagus meal and among seemingly endless options I have decided to make a new version of kookoo/kuku incorporating asparagus.

Growing up in Iran, I remember hearing my mother talk about marchoobeh (asparagus) but I don't remember eating or even seeing any asparagus back then. Perhaps asparagus wasn't very popular or vastly cultivated and therefore it was not available among the wide range of vegetables then.

To enjoy the in-season asparagus I have combined fresh herbs, chopped walnuts and barberries with eggs and I'm very happy with the results. For this recipe, I have added a touch of cayenne and cumin to bring just the right amount of flavor to the egg and asparagus combination. I must point out though that the traditional kookoo/kuku sabzi, like most dishes in Persian cuisine, is not spicy at all.  I also did not chop the vegetables as finely as I normally would for the traditional kookoo. For those unable to find barberries you can substitute them with dried cranberries instead.

Kookoo-ye Marchoobeh - Asparagus Frittata

Serves 4-6

1 pound fresh asparagus (about 20 medium-sized stalks), ends snapped and cut into 2-inch pieces
8 large eggs
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup chopped fresh scallion (green parts only)
A few sprigs of fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried barberries (can be found in most Persian grocery stores), picked over and rinsed well
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
A pinch of cayenne pepper (or to taste) *optional
A generous pinch of cumin *optional
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil (extra virgin) or vegetable oil

  1. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the asparagus pieces lightly for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle a bit of salt over the asparagus.
  2. In the meantime, combine the chopped herbs, walnuts, barberries and spices together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a medium-size bowl, beat the eggs until yolks and whites are completely blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Pour the egg over the herbs and walnut mixture in the large bowl and blend well.
  5. Add the egg and herb mixture over the sauteed asparagus in the skillet. With a spatula flatten the surface of the kookoo. As eggs start to set take the spatula and run it around the edges and make four large wedges or eight small ones in the skillet. Cover and cook for 25-30 minutes on medium-low heat.
To serve, cut the kookoo into small wedges and place it onto a platter. May be served hot or at room temperature with yogurt, salad shirazi, torshi, and bread.



  1. Lovely! I make a mixed herb version of a Persian frittata and it's one of my favorite dishes....I never thought to use asparagus. I've never been able to find barberries, they really add a beautiful touch!

  2. Asparagus kookoo is a brilliant idea!

  3. You have such a beautiful blog!!! I'm doing this weekend your asparagus frittata with your tah-chin rice and your Torshi Makhoot!! and I'm very very glad that I found you:)
    It will be my first try with persian recipes
    I will let you know how it goes, I'm sure it will be a success

  4. This is amazing! I am persian as well, but have never tried a version of kookoo like this one:) You should really consider making a Pinterest account and adding the link to your blog. I am sure a lot of people will repin your recipes and get ideas from your posts

    Dorsa Giyahi

  5. It's just great...,Dasteh shoma dard nakoneh

  6. I had never had Asparagus Kookoo before, nor thought it actually existed. The only word that describe this is; WOW!
    This is a keeper in my recipes.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. I love your website and your creativity and beautiful English writing and the title of your website. Good luck.