The tradition of an Israeli breakfast, which is similar to the Arab breakfast, began in the early days of the 20th century on the kibbutz. Kibbutzniks would go out to the fields at the crack of dawn to work before the heat of the day, and they’d return home at 9AM to eat a giant breakfast consisting of fluffy omelettes, fresh salads made with cucumbers and sweet tomatoes, hummus, eggplant salad, pita and other breads, and homemade jams. This hearty breakfast spilled over into hotels starting in the 1930s, and now you can have an Israeli breakfast at most cafes and restaurants.
This Israeli tradition has become a weekend ritual in my home, sometimes an elaborate affair for guests, but always made with local ingredients from trips to dairy farms or the shuk. The Israeli breakfast is ideally a leisurely breakfast eaten with family and friends talking about current events, recent travels, or just catching up. In our house, we play early or classical music in the background, talk a little, read the newspaper, and read that book that we have been trying to finish for weeks.
I always make either a fresh herb omelette or frittata, with a selection of cheeses such as labne, Bulgarian feta, and cottage cheese, bread, olives, and jams. This weekend I made a Persian frittata called Kuku (pronounced KooKoo), which is a herb frittata that varies from region to region: some kukus are made with a Persian spice mixture called adviehis, which is a blend of cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, and dried rose petals. It is typically served in the Spring during the Persian New Year, Nowruz.
The kuku I made only called for allspice and saffron, but it was just enough spice to go with the herbs and vegetables in this recipe. This frittata is simply delicious and will definitely be served again on our table.
What special dishes do you make for breakfast?
(Persian Omelette with Saffron) Recipe from Moro East by Sam & Sam Clark
1 large aubergine, cut into 1.5cm (1/2 inch) cubes
50g (3-1/2 tablespoons) butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 allspice berries, crushed (or a pinch of ground allspice)
6 green onions, thinly sliced
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
A good pinch of saffron (about 40 strands), soaked in 1 tablespoon boiling water
250g (1/2lb) fresh spinach, wilted in a hot frying pan with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt, then drained and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
Preheat a 25 cm (9 inch) round baking dish or ovenproof frying pan in the oven at 220C (425F).
Sprinkle the aubergine with a good pinch of salt and let stand for about 5 minutes. Pat the moisture off of the aubergine and set aside.
Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the green onion and allspice. Saute for about a couple of minutes and then add the aubergine, stirring often until tender and making sure the onion does not burn. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Whisk the eggs in a medium-sized bowl and add the barberries, pine nuts, saffron (including the liquid), spinach, parsley, mint, and salt and pepper. Add the aubergine mixture. Remove the baking dish from the oven and pour in the egg mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the egg has set and the top is slightly brown and puffy. Let the kuku rest for 5 minutes before serving.