From the ancient Ottoman and Persian courts to common man’s backyard BBQ, kebabs/kababs or kebobs have won hearts universally! Be it a formal gathering or simply a family picnic, kababs bring a thrill to the occasion like nothing else does.
And then there are so many serving options to suit the occasion; serve them over aromatic rice or roll in a soft flatbread, enhance the flavour with grilled vegetables or a simple lemony fresh salad, go with mint chutney and hummus for a dip or choose plain yogurt – choices are many and delicious!
Joojeh Kabab recipe or Iranian Grilled Chicken is one such traditional dish that speaks to Kabab lovers everywhere in the world because the tender pieces of chicken are mildly spiced and still very flavourful, hence easily accepted by all palates. The tender meat results from a long marination in yogurt, onion juice and lemon. It’s highly recommend that you should marinate the kababs a day ahead or even 48 hours before grilling.
Saffron is used by most cooks in the traditional Joojeh Kabab recipe and it has a unique flavour and aroma which is hard to replicate, but it’s an expensive ingredient and not easily available everywhere. If you want to substitute it, you can simply use the saffron essence for aroma and a pinch of turmeric or annato seeds for the glorious golden colour of kababs. The perfectly done kababs are golden and juicy. There is really nothing worse than over cooked kababs that makes them dry and chewy so keep an eye on the meat all the time while you are cooking.
1 kg boneless, skinless chicken
2 medium onions, grated
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt
A few strands saffron, soaked in warm milk (optional)
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon orange or lemon zest
salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 medium whole tomatoes
This Is What You Do:
Cut chicken into equal sized strips or cubes for even cooking.
Combine onions, yogurt, lemon juice, saffron, black pepper, paprika, citrus zest, salt and olive oil in a big mixing bowl.
Add chicken pieces and mix to coat them with marinade thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours or better overnight.
Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers, grill on outdoor grill or indoor skillet grill according to your weather and convenience. Cook till chicken pieces are tender and golden on the outside, almost 7-10 minutes or till the juices from the chicken are yellowish, not pink anymore.
You can bake them covered for 15 minutes in the oven and then place under the broiler for a couple of minutes too. Or cook covered in a frying pan till juices run clear and then toast lightly uncovered till charred.
Also thread whole tomatoes onto skewers and grill till the pulp is tender and skins somewhat charred. Tomatoes should be tender enough so that you can crush them with fork while eating.
Serve with butter and saffron fried rice, and grilled vegetables for a formal dinner or simply with fresh salad and yogurt for a weekday meal.
Tip- For Butter and Saffron fried rice, simply boil long grain basmati rice in salted water till done. Drain. Add butter to a pan, add crushed cardamom, top with rice, pour saffron soaked in 2 tablespoons milk over them. Wrap the lid of the pan in a clean cotton kitchen towel. Cover the pan and leave to steam on the lowest possible heat for 10 minutes.