Although, Iranians don’t have a tendency to make joojeh kabob very often for their daily meals, for the rest of the world, kabobs are known as the premier Persian cuisine, and people like to go to Persian restaurants for their delectable chicken and meat kebobs paired with grilled vegetables over beautiful jewel rice.
As for us Iranians, our go to meals for every day are khoresh (stews), Āsh (thick soups), khorak (braises), and polo (assorted rices). Even though back home (Iran), kabobs were prepared all year round, now days, traditionally made kabobs are mostly done for special occasions or family gatherings.
An authentic kabob is expected to be done over a manghal (portable wood-charcoal grill) which allows the metal skewers to be laid directly over an open fire. However, these days, kabobs are mostly prepared on gas grills. Some families including my parents, have replicated the open fire concept on a gas grill. Basically, they use regular outdoor gas grills, but they take off the cast iron parts to lay the metal skewers on a direct flame.
In the pictures below, I'd like to take the opportunity to show the different vegetables that can be grilled and served with kabobs. Usually, tomatoes are must-haves, but grilling onions, green bell peppers or green hot peppers are very common too. On the left, we have joojeh kabob being done over an authentic manghal, and on the right, kabobs and vegetables are being grilled over a transformed gas grill, all courtesy of my lovely mom and dad!
5 lb. of boneless and skinless chicken breast, rinsed and pat dried
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp Aleppo pepper
1/2 tbsp lemon and pepper seasoning salt (recommended: McCormik)1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp onion powered, (recommended: Sadaf)
1/2 tsp powdered saffron, dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp butter, melted in the microwave for 15 seconds
Cut chicken breast into large bite-size pieces. Place the cut pieces and sliced onions in a mixing bowl and lightly toss them together.
Make the marinade. In a small mixing bowl, combine the kosher salt, Aleppo pepper, black pepper, dissolved saffron, lemon juice, and the olive oil, stirring well with a whisk.
Pour the marinade over chicken and onions. Mix well until all the chicken and onion pieces are fully coated with the marinade.
Trim the ends of the wooden skewers to fit inside your stove top grill and soak them in water for 10 minutes.
Next, remove the chicken pieces from marinade, and skewer them. Brush both sides with melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Place the skewered chi on the preheated stove top grill. Grill them on medium-high for about 4 minutes per side or until tender. Serve with grilled tomatoes and onions over lavash bread or steamed basmati rice.
- If you can’t find saffron or do not like to use saffron for any reason, do not use turmeric instead. Turmeric does not work well in Persian style chicken marinade, and it will give a bitter hint to the flavor of the chicken. Instead, leave saffron out or use safflower for coloring. My favorite brand is Sadaf’s Safflower Whole.
- Allow the chicken to come to near room temperature (70 F) before putting it on the grill.
- Clean your stove top grill between the batches. You may use paper towel and kitchen tongs for easy and fast cleaning.