Although, kabobs are not among the typical daily meal plans for an Iranian family, for the rest of the world, kabobs are known as the leading Persian cuisine. Fans of this cuisine would go to a Persian restaurant expecting delectable chicken and meat kebobs paired with grilled vegetables served over saffron jeweled rice.
As for us Iranians, our go-to meals are khoresh (stews and braises), Āsh (thick soups), and polo (assorted rices). Traditionally, kabobs are savored for special occasions or family gatherings. Well, because it takes a lot of effort and budget to prepare kabobs the right way. However, that is no longer the case if you are open to enjoy a stove top grilled Kabobs vs its authentic versions.
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.
On the left, joojeh kabobs are being grilled over an authentic manghal, and on the right, kabobs and vegetables are being grilled over a transformed gas grill, all courtesy of my dad :) isn't he awesome!
4 lb. of boneless and skinless chicken breast, rinsed and pat dried
1 medium white or brown onion, thinly sliced
1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp saffron, powdered and dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly grounded black pepper
1 tbsp butter, melted in the microwave for 15 seconds
Make the marinade. In a small mixing bowl, combine the kosher salt, black pepper, dissolved saffron, lemon juice, stirring well with a whisk. set aside.
Slice the onions and bell pepper as thins as you can.
Cut chicken breast into large bite-size pieces. Place the cut pieces and the marinade in a mixing bowl and mix by hand or utensils until each piece is well coated with marinade.
Add sliced onions and bell peppers to chicken mixture and toss until veggies are evenly distributed. This is where you should decide to marinade them between 2 to 24 hours. 12 hours will be ideal.
Prep and trim the wooden skewers to fit your stove-top grill if using them. Soak skewers according to their package instruction.
When ready to grill, remember to leave chicken in room temperature for at least an hour.
Remove chicken pieces from its liquid and vegetable mixture. pass each piece through the skewer. Brush both sides with melted butter and season with a little additional salt and pepper. Place the skewered chickens over preheated stove-top grill. Cook 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, do not use turmeric instead. Turmeric can give a bitter hint. Instead, use safflower for coloring. My favorite brand is Sadaf’s Safflower Whole.
- Allow the chicken to come to 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.