Jujeh Kabab (Persian Barbecued Chicken)

It’s hard to believe that August is almost over. Luckily barbecue season will continue for another few weeks. Persians are no stranger to the barbecue…..our kababs are world-renowned. One of my favourite kababs to make at home is Jujeh Kabab – juicy chicken marinated in lemon, saffron, yogurt and onion then grilled over hot coals.

Traditionally, Jujeh Kabab is made with bone-in chicken pieces, usually small chickens or Cornish hens that are threaded onto skewers. In 1961, Queen Elizabeth visited Iran and was the guest of The Shah. At the royal dinner they served Jujeh Kabab. Much to everyone’s surprise the Queen of England picked up her chicken and ate it with her fingers (something Iranians at the time would never do in the company of guests). Out of respect, the rest of the people seated at the dinner also picked up their chicken and ate with their hands. Still to this day when someone refuses to eat chicken off the bone with their fingers, Iranians will remind them that the Queen of England did not have a problem eating with her hands so they shouldn’t!

In this recipe I have simplified things and made the Jujeh Kabab using boneless, skinless chicken thighs and have skipped the skewers. I love using chicken thighs. I find that they have more flavour, are juicier and almost impossible to dry out. But if you prefer you may use breasts and if you do not have a barbecue, they are also delicious made in the oven.

Jujeh Kabab

(serves 4)

8-10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you may use breast meat if you prefer)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cups plain yogurt (2% or full fat)
juice of two lemons
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water

Put chicken in a large bowl or a large ziplock bag. Add all the other ingredients and stir to blend well and cover the chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 4 hours.

Preheat your BBQ on medium-high heat. Put the chicken on the grill and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes per side (until 160 degrees farenheit on instant read thermometer).

Transfer to a serving dish and let rest for a couple of minutes. Serve with lemon wedges. Enjoy!

* You may also cook these in the oven. Bake them in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.

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