Kale and Potato Savoury Muffins Inspired by Persian Kookoo Sabzi
I’m making these kale and potato muffins very often these days, yet until two years ago I hadn’t even heard of kale. It’s not a vegetable grown in my home country. But I wasn’t the only one.
From an obscure leafy vegetable most people didn’t know or didn’t want to eat, kale turned into a cool one all of a sudden a couple of years ago. The sales of kale soared really high and supply couldn’t meet demand at first. Lots of people bought bags of kale not knowing what to do with it and there emerged myriads of recipes for kale.
What made kale so cool? First of all, its health benefits. Food scientists told us kale was a superfood, like berries, like beets (another vegetable we didn’t want to eat). So we started getting super cool kale smoothies everywhere. I’m not much of a smoothie person myself. I’d rather eat my greens and vegetables in salads or cooked into food.
It’s my type of vegetable: green, flavourful, with lots of character! So when like everybody else I picked up my bag of kale in the supermarket I started searching for recipes. It did work nicely wilted and lightly sautéed in butter alongside chicken or fish but surely there were other ways to use it.
I set out trying it in my fusion recipes, the recipes I create by using new ingredients or cooking methods to reproduce the flavours of my childhood or by using Persian ingredients totally out of context, in absolutely non-Persian dishes for new, exciting variations, like putting saffron in my Saffron and Walnut Courgette Cake with Oat Bran.
These easy kale and potato savoury muffins were the result of one of these adventures. There’s loads of kale in them and they are great to serve for breakfast/brunch or as a grab-and go lunch because they are just as good cold as they are warm right out of the oven.
I took the flavour inspiration for these little mounds of healthy deliciousness from a Persian dish called kookoo sabzi. Kookoo sabzi is basically a ton of herbs mixed with eggs, spices and sometimes chopped walnuts and/or jewel-like red barberries. The very green frittata-like Persian kookoo sabzi is cooked in a frying pan on top of the stove or in the oven.
Persians eat kookoo sabzi both hot and cold. We eat it with plain fluffy rice, we eat it with green herby rice (sabzi polo), we eat it rolled into flatbread like a tortilla wrap or even in a baguette! Kookoo sabzi is also eaten alongside green rice and pan-fried fish on Persian New Year’s Eve (Nowrouz) on 21 March. Like green rice the green colour of kookoo sabzi symbolises the rebirth of nature. It’s a simple but quite iconic dish in Persian cuisine.
My kale and potato savoury muffins are pretty much the same. You can have them hot or cold, on their own, with rice or tucked into pita bread with sliced tomatoes and gherkins or rolled into a tortilla. They are great as finger-food too.
What makes the flavour of these muffins quite unique is the addition of barberries and walnuts/pecans. Barberries are a superfood on their own right. The tiny jewel-like tart red berries are almost exclusively grown in Iran. There are a great many of wild and garden varieties of barberries in Europe and America but the berries from most of them have too many seeds and are not suitable for cooking.
You can find barberries in Middle Eastern groceries or online. Skip the barberries and add a handful of chopped walnuts to the mix instead if you can’t find them or use chopped unsweetened dried cranberries for a little burst of sharp flavour.
To make 24 small muffins you will need the following ingredients:
- 3-4 tbsp barberries
- 5 medium eggs
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp dried dill (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 180g curly kale, roughly chopped or torn into small pieces
- 300g potatoes, grated
- About 24 walnut halves
- cooking spray or oil to grease the tins
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
- Pick over the berries and rinse thoroughly in a sieve under cold running water. Drain well and set aside.
- Spray 2 twelve hole non-stick muffin tins with cooking spray or brush with oil. You can also use silicone liners or paper muffin cases if your tin is not non-stick. These need to be oiled too.
- Put the eggs, spices, dill, salt, flour and baking powder in a food processor. Add a handful of kale and whiz for 30 seconds. Repeat with the rest of the kale until all kale is used up and finely chopped (it will still show in the mix in small bits).
- Add the grated potatoes and barberries and stir well.
- Divide the mixture in the prepared muffin tins and lightly push a walnut half on top of each. Bake for 25 minutes on the middle shelf or until the muffins are firm and golden on top. Let cool slightly and serve.