joojeh kabob (persian chicken kabob)


1 package chicken tenderloins, cubed
0.5 sweet onion, grated
0.25 cup lemon juice
0.25 teaspoon ground saffron
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons turmeric
1.5 teaspoons salt
0.5 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
0.5 tablespoon unsalted, sweet cream butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon plain, greek style yogurt
4 roma tomatoes
wooden skewers
cooking spray
sumac (to taste)

listening to: nusrat fateh ali khan – piya re

the smell of saffron, butter, and chicken is one of my very favorite food scents.  when grilled, it’s even better.  the first persian meal i ever had was the illustrious kabob kubideh, and it instilled in me a great love for persian-style grilled meats.  kubideh will be for another blog post, but its close cousin, joojeh kabob, is an absolute favorite served alongside roasted tomatoes, greek-style plain yogurt, and basmati rice.

i begin by soaking the skewers in a tub of water.  this helps so they do not catch on fire or burn while on the grill.  if you have metal skewers, you can (of course) skip this step.  that’s probably obvious, but i am often surprised (and amused) with the veritable lack of common sense exhibited by people in the kitchen.  this is not to imply that i think myself impervious to my own idiocy (i’ve set fire to my kitchen before, remember?), but only to state a very clear fact.

in a large mixing bowl, throw together 1 tablespoon of canola oil, 1 tablespoon of plain, greek-style yogurt, 1.5 teaspoons of salt, 0.5 teaspoon ground pepper, 2 teaspoons of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of dried parsley, the grated sweet onion, and 0.25 cup lemon juice.  in a heat safe dish, melt 0.5 tablespoon of butter for 20 seconds on high.  add 0.25 teaspoon ground saffron to the melted butter, and stir it together until the saffron dissolves.  now, add the butter/saffron mixture to the bowl and whisk the contents together until they are well incorporated.  it should be a lovely bright yellow color.  coat the cubes of chicken in the marinade and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

preheat the oven to broil and turn on your grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.  if you’re using a grill pan, be sure to have a piece of tin foil that covers the grill pan handy.  fold it in the center to form a kind of tent.  you will see why this is helpful later on.

once half an hour has passed, slide the cubes of chicken onto the skewers.  be careful not to crowd the meat, or it won’t cook in the center.

spray the grill or grill pan with nonstick spray, and carefully place the skewers of chicken onto the grilling surface.  i cover the chicken with a tin foil tent to help retain the heat from the grill.  DON’T TOUCH the chicken right after it hits the grill.  if you try to move it around too much, you’ll be sure to get clumps that stick onto the grill and burn.  wait until you begin to see the chicken cook at least halfway up the sides before carefully turning it over.  if there is residual sauce from the marinade, it doesn’t hurt to coat the meat with it prior to this action.  keep repeating these steps until the meat is cooked through.  the tent will help keep the meat moist and ensure that the chicken is not blackened with a cool pink center (hello, salmonella).

remove the kabobs from the grill and recover with the tin foil tent for at least a few minutes before serving so as to keep the meat juicy.

in the meantime, put the roma tomatoes in the oven on broil and let them start to crinkle.  the skin should start to blacken and shrivel slightly.  it shouldn’t take too long.

serve the chicken over basmati rice along with the roasted tomatoes.  sprinkle a small amount of sumac on top of the chicken/rice for added flavor.  this dish is awesome with greek-style plain yogurt, too.

bon appetit!

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