Hi everyone, welcome to Kelly’s Kitchen. It’s great you’re here today. This week, Alex asked to make Joojeh Kabob, which is a Persian Chicken Kabob. We haven’t had Persian food since we left California, so I thought this would be a good one to try.
Joojeh Kabob is typically served with grilled tomatoes and onions. We also grilled some lavash and I made some plain old rice. (We’ll save Tahdig for another post!) Our intention was to let the chicken marinate overnight, but because of all the rain this week, we put it off another day, so the chicken marinated for two days – which turned out perfectly.
Day 1 Marinade
This marinade is easy! It does call for quite a bit of saffron, half a teaspoon (which is about 1.4 grams). The strands are easy to pulverize. But if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use the butt of your chef’s knife and a bowl. The marinade calls for half of the saffron water mixture. The remaining half will be part of the basting sauce.
Just mix the ingredients in a bowl. Add the cubed chicken, toss to coat. Then I poured the whole thing into a Ziplock, squeezed out the air and popped it in the fridge.
Day 2 (or 3) Grilling
Take out your chicken and get your grill going. While the grill heats up and the meat comes to room temperature, prep your veggies. I halved the tomatoes and cut the onion into eighths. Go ahead and start your rice (Basmati is best for this dish.)
The basting sauce is simply, lemon juice, butter and the remaining saffron water. combined and warmed through in a saucepan on the stove.
Researching grilling techniques for kabobs led us to discover a couple things: 1) definitely use flat skewers to keep your food from spinning on the skewer. 2) to get the best charring on your food, if you can, avoid using a grill altogether and let your kabobs sit directly over the coals. This required us to double thread the food to get longer skewers. It’s no problem if you can’t go this route, your kebabs will still be delicious if you cook them on grill grates.
Try to keep as many of the onions from the marinade on the chicken as you can when you thread the chicken. They will caramelize beautifully!
Our kettle grill is quite large, so this set up may easier for you if you have a standard size charcoal grill. Grill your kabobs for about 4-6 minutes each side, basting after the first turn then every minute until the chicken is done.
We found that doing the chicken this way first, then placing the grill grates on for the tomatoes and onions was an easier way to get an even cook on the tomatoes and onions.
I plated the Joojeh Kabobs on a bed of rice; add tomatoes, onions and lavash. I also added some Israeli feta and parsley from the garden. The saffron is the real star of this recipe. Saffron lends a deep honey flavor, only it’s not sweet. It tastes like how honey smells, if that makes sense…. The smoky flavor from the charcoal combines with the saffron for a unique and distinct harmony of flavors.
Persian cuisine is one our favorites and I look forward to sharing more of our favorite Persian dishes with you! I do hope you give Joojeh Kabob (Persian Chicken Kabab) a try! They are simple to make and they are a wonderful way to experience the flavors of Iran.
Thank you so much for joining me today! Don’t forget you can find me on Instagram and Facebook too! Also, let me know if there is anything in particular you’d like to explore in this weekly column. Take care, be well, xo Kelly
Joojeh Kabob (Persian Chicken Kabob)
- 3.5 lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
- 2 Onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp Saffron, ground and dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water
- 1/2 cup Plain Yogurt
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil, EVOO
- 2 cloves Garlic, smashed and chopped
- 1.5 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1.5 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter
- 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
- Rice, Lavash, Feta, Parsley, Grilled Onions and Tomatoes optional serving suggestions
Cut chicken into 2-inch cubes.
Place chicken in a large shallow container and mix in onions, half the saffron water, yogurt, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
Coat all pieces of chicken completely with marinade
Cover (or transfer to a Ziplock) and marinate at least 6 hours and up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
Start your charcoal at least 30 minutes prior to grilling.
Thread chicken breast pieces close together onto metal skewers.
In a small saucepan add butter, lemon juice and the other half of saffron water. Cook this over medium heat until melted and combined.
Grill kabobs for 4-5 minutes on each side, basting with butter-lemon mix.
The chicken is done when the juice running out is no longer pink.
Let chicken rest about 5 minutes and slide off skewer.
Serve over rice with lavash, tomatoes and onions.