Thursday, 4 September 2014

Joojeh Kabab - Persian Chicken Kebabs with Lemon and Saffron (includes Thermomix instructions)

More delicious flavours for chicken - something just a little different, perfect for the barbeque or grill.

The zesty marinade helps keep the chicken tender and moist while cooking, and the subtle flavours infuse the chicken with Middle Eastern flavours, whilst the saffron gives it a delicious golden colour.

Persian chicken kebabs

If possible, cook over a barbecue to really capture the authentic smoky flavour of this dish - if not, you will still get incredibly tasty and moist chicken if cooked under the grill or on a griddle. Ideally marinate this the night before, or several hours in advance - although if you're pressed for time you could probably just get away with an hour or two.

Joojeh kababs, (aka Jūje-kabāb) are a popular dish in Iran, commonly served with rice or lavash bread (Persian staples), along with grilled tomatoes and peppers. We enjoyed them with some quinoa and lentil salad with roasted vegetables, sumac and fresh herbs (recipe here), and a deliciously refreshing Persian salad Shirazi with pomegranate.

Serves four, at 166 calories per serving. [Calories in square brackets, 1/4 marinade calories used as the majority left in the bowl once chicken is threaded onto skewers].

Calorie information
Serve with a portion of salad Shirazi (38 calories) and a portion of my quinoa and lentil salad (an eighth for 174 calories) for a total of only 378 calories for the whole meal.

If you're keeping the carbs down serve with a 200g portion of cauliflower rice instead of the quinoa salad for just 76 calories (you could stir in some chopped fresh coriander, mint and parsley with a squeeze of lemon for less than 10 extra calories, and bags of flavour!), and a total of 280 calories for the whole meal including a serving of salad Shirazi.


  • 450g skinless boneless chicken breasts (you could use thighs, just increase the calories) [495]

For the marinade

  • 1 small onion (60g, prepared) [25]
  • 1 large pinch saffron threads [1]
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice [8]
  • 1 tbsp lime juice [3]
  • 100g yoghurt (e.g. Greek, full fat - if you're cooking dairy free, you can leave this out, as not all Joojeh recipes include yoghurt) [96]
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric (optional) [4]
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper [1]
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil [135]

You will also need

  • 4 long, or 8 short metal or wooden skewers (make sure you pre-soak if wooden)


1. Using a pestle and mortar crush the saffron threads into a powder and mix with 1 tbsp hot water. Leave to infuse while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. Cut the chicken into evenly sized cubes around 1-1.5 inches square - I had 4 small chicken breasts and cut them into 6 pieces each.

3. Peel and grate the onion (or crush/whizz up in a food processor - see italics for Thermomix) and mix together with all of the other marinade ingredients (give the yoghurt a quick stir with a fork first, to avoid lumps) and salt and pepper to taste. I add 1 level 5ml teaspoon of fine sea salt for this quantity, and to our tastes. (Thermomix, drop the roughly chopped onion onto running blades, Speed 8. Scrape down, add the other marinade ingredients, including the saffron mixed with boiling water, and blitz at speed 9 for 20 seconds, scrape down and repeat for 15 seconds).

4. Mix the cubed chicken and marinade together in a non-reactive bowl (not metal), and leave to marinade for at least an hour, preferably several / overnight. Thread the chicken onto skewers when ready to cook.

5. Pre-heat the barbecue or grill, and cook the chicken skewers for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, turning a couple of times, until cooked through but still moist. Serve immediately and enjoy while they are lip-smackingly juicy and hot!


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