persian date frittata

Persian date frittata

I first heard about Persian date frittatas from my Iranian-Assyrian friend Valia. You know how you can usually tell what something would taste like from a description? This was not one of those times. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the combination of flavors and textures, until I finally tried making it one day, and the clouds parted as soon as I took my first bite.

I’ve cooked this dish a lot over the last couple years, and now I have my preferred way of making it, with a handful of chives, a little pinch of cinnamon, and a few crumbles of feta for good measure. The way I assemble it is perhaps just a skosh fussy (although it’s still relatively simple—way easier than buttermilk pancakes, for example), but you could totally go a different route and scramble everything together like an omelette. Yasmin Khan has such a recipe, which looks incredible.

I just love the way it looks with the concentric circles of dates popping out against the bright yellow eggs. I like to sear the dates in the pan on just one side, so that their exposed tops have a chance to caramelize a little under the broiler while the eggs finish baking. It makes for a gorgeous centerpiece at any brunch table, and it’s easy to pull off with minimal effort.

Persian date frittata
Persian date frittata
Persian date frittata
Persian date frittata

Also, this week and next, I’m excited to be sharing some of my favorite Persian and Persian-inspired recipes. While my family is from Iraq and Syria, many other Assyrians are from Iran, so I try to include Persian recipes on Cardamom and Tea as often as I can. But while there’s a lot of common ground and mutual influence among all our cuisines (and so much multi-cultural complexity within!), Persian food is really quite distinct from Iraqi food (which is also very different from Levantine food, and so on).

So when I include Persian food on the blog, it’s always with a little bit more inhibition, because my only connection to it is through my Iranian friends, extended family, and readers, and not really through first-hand experience. While I’ve probably eaten and cooked a lot more Persian food than the average non-Persian, I’m certainly not an expert, and I hope I’m doing this dish justice. In any case, I guarantee that it’s one of the most lovely breakfasts around. Thanks again to Valia for introducing me to it.

Persian date frittata
Persian date frittata
Persian date frittata
Persian date frittata

persian date frittata

serves 4
total time: 10 minutes
download a
PDF to print
try my
kuku sabzi-inspired frittata for another Persian frittata.

  • 1 tablespoon butter (Or, better—clarified butter. You can also substitute 1/2 tablespoon olive oil)

  • 14 small or 6 large dates, split lengthwise and pitted

  • 5 large eggs, beaten

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

  • 3 tablespoons crumbled feta

  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives

  • a pinch of cinnamon

  • suggestion: serve alongside some peppery greens, like watercress or arugula

  1. Pre-heat your broiler.*

  2. Heat a 10-inch broiler-safe seasoned cast iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes.

  3. Melt the butter, swirl to coat, and place the dates in the pan cut-side down. Let them cook for about 2 minutes without flipping them, until they slightly caramelize and soften.

  4. Remove the dates from the pan, leaving the butter behind.

  5. Add the eggs to the hot butter and scramble them for only about 1 minute. Salt them to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon).

  6. After 1 minute, while they're still very runny, turn off the heat and place the dates on top of the eggs in a pretty pattern cut-side down. Gently press the dates into the eggs so that they stay in place.

  7. Move the pan to the broiler. Cook, checking every minute or more (it takes 3 minutes to cook through with my broiler, but it varies a lot from oven to oven).

  8. Once it has cooked through, garnish with feta, chives, and cinnamon, and serve (optionally with some watercress or arugula on the side).

* If you don’t have an oven, you can make this on a stovetop instead. Cook the dates for about 2 minutes on each side (instead of just 1 side). Proceed with the recipe as usual, until right after you arrange the dates on the surface. Cover the pan with a lid and continue cooking for a couple more minutes, just until the top sets from the steam.

Persian date frittata

manakish za'atar variations

manakish

A few weeks ago, I flew to Phoenix to celebrate Christmas with my whole big family. We had so much fun playing giant Jenga, hiking, and eating a million delicious tacos. While I was in town, I also got to cook with one of my favorite Assyrian food bloggers, Lisa from Seven Spice Life. We spent the morning at her house making an epic manakish feast, with lahm bi ajeen, and a couple of delicious variations on manakish za’atar (AKA manousheh).

The classic manakish with olives, tomato, labneh, cucumber, and mint was inspired by a trip Lisa took to Jordan, and the California-style one was inspired by all our favorite ingredients (goat cheese, blistered tomatoes, arugula, avocado, and garlicky pickled radishes). We used some incredible za’atar from Lisa’s brother-in-law’s family in Lebanon, and everything was just so perfect.

I’ve got some photos and the recipe for the two manakish za’atar variations below, and Lisa was generous enough to direct and edit a video with all three manakish, including the lahm bi ajeen.

Here’s the base of the California-style one—Lisa had the idea to add the tomatoes and goat cheese to the pizza before baking, which was a stroke of brilliance!

Here’s the base of the California-style one—Lisa had the idea to add the tomatoes and goat cheese to the pizza before baking, which was a stroke of brilliance!

Here’s the labneh going onto the classic tomato, cucumber, and olive manakish za’atar. I love the way the za’atar swirls with the labneh a little, and all the flavors meld together.

Here’s the labneh going onto the classic tomato, cucumber, and olive manakish za’atar. I love the way the za’atar swirls with the labneh a little, and all the flavors meld together.

And now for the toppings!

And now for the toppings!

After the labneh and veggies, on goes the mint chiffonade.

After the labneh and veggies, on goes the mint chiffonade.

How have I never had lahm bi ajeen with lemon before?

How have I never had lahm bi ajeen with lemon before?

It’s a revelation.

It’s a revelation.

Here’s Lisa! We had so much fun talking for hours about family, food, travel, and our mutual love of castelvetrano olives.

Here’s Lisa! We had so much fun talking for hours about family, food, travel, and our mutual love of castelvetrano olives.

Collaboration is such a wonderful thing!

Collaboration is such a wonderful thing!

Thanks Lisa for taking these photos of me!

Thanks Lisa for taking these photos of me!

You can see one of Lisa’s pups running by in the background <3

You can see one of Lisa’s pups running by in the background <3

Lisa made these wonderful pickled radishes, with lots of garlic and zesty flavors. Any kind of pickled veggie would work wonderfully here, but the radishes were just the thing.

Lisa made these wonderful pickled radishes, with lots of garlic and zesty flavors. Any kind of pickled veggie would work wonderfully here, but the radishes were just the thing.

above: classic manakish with olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, labneh, and mint chiffonade below: california-style manakish with goat cheese, blistered tomato, arugula, avocado, pickled radishes or onions, and a little more extra virgin olive oil.

above: classic manakish with olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, labneh, and mint chiffonade
below: california-style manakish with goat cheese, blistered tomato, arugula, avocado, pickled radishes or onions, and a little more extra virgin olive oil.

manakish za’atar variations

manakish za’atar base

yield: 4 small manakish
download a PDF to print

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons za'atar *

  • Salt, to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)

  • 1 pound pizza dough

  • Semolina or cornmeal, for sprinkling

  1. Place a pizza stone (or sheet pan) on the oven floor, move the oven racks up and out of the way, so you can easily access the pizza stone, and pre-heat the oven to 500° F.

  2. Combine the olive oil and za'atar. Salt it to taste if you're using unseasoned za'atar.

  3. Lightly flour a clean, food-safe work surface, use a knife or bench scraper to divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, and shape each chunk into a round ball.

  4. Roll each dough ball into a circle, about 1/8 inch thick. To keep the round shape, rotate the disc about 90 degrees after each time you roll it out, and be sure to re-flour the surface every so often.

  5. Sprinkle semolina or cornmeal on a pizza peel or thin cutting board. Place one dough disc on the cutting board. Top with about 1/4 of the za'atar mixture (about a heaping tablespoon) and spread it out using your fingers or the back of a spoon. Top with 1/4 cup of feta cheese, if using. Let it rest for about 5 to 10 minutes before it goes in the oven.

  6. Once the oven has preheated, use a quick motion to move the pie from the pizza peel onto the pizza stone. Cook for about 5-8 minutes, until the edges start to brown and the bread is cooked through. The dough should be crispy and chewy, like really good brick oven pizza.

  7. Repeat with the remaining 3 pies.

california-style manakish za’atar

cherry tomatoes + goat cheese + lightly dressed arugula + avocado + pickled radishes/onions + olive oil

Add a few halved cherry tomatoes and a handful of goat cheese crumbles to the manakish za’atar base after the za’atar oil goes on. Bake as usual, until the pizza is cooked through, the goat cheese is melted, and the tomatoes are slightly charred or blistered. Once it comes out of the oven, top with arugula (dressed lightly with oil and vinegar), avocado, pickled radishes or onions, and a little more extra virgin olive oil.

classic manakish za’atar

labneh + olives + cherry tomatoes + Persian cucumbers + mint + olive oil

Bake the manakish za’atar base as the original recipe suggests. Top with labneh, halved olives, quartered cherry tomatoes, large-diced Persian cucumbers, a few sprigs of mint chiffonade, and some more extra virgin olive oil.

manakish