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Joojeh Kabob for Persian New Year

Hello and welcome, friends! Are you ready for spring? Tomorrow is the first day of spring. It’s also Persian New Year, or Nowruz (translation: New Day). Celebrated for over 3,000 years as the victory of spring over the darkness of winter, Persian New Year is a celebration of spring and a brand new year. So let’s celebrate the light, the flowers and the trees, and all the new growth that comes with spring. Let’s make Joojeh Kabob for Persian New Year!

Joojeh Kabob, Persian Chicken

Joojeh Kabob is typically served with grilled tomatoes and onions. We also grilled some lavash and I made some plain old rice. If you want to make traditional Persian Rice to go along with your Joojeh, I have a great recipe for Tahdig, check it out here: Tahdig (Persian Rice) in the Always Pan.

Day 1: Marinate

This marinade is easy! It does call for quite a bit of saffron, half a teaspoon (which is about 1.4 grams). The strands are easy to pulverize. But if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use the butt of your chef’s knife and a bowl.

pulverizing saffron threads

The marinade calls for half of the saffron water mixture. The remaining half will be part of the basting sauce.

marinade ingredients

Just mix the ingredients in a bowl. Add the cubed chicken, toss to coat. Then I poured the whole thing into a Ziplock, squeezed out the air and popped it in the fridge.

marinade Joojeh Kabob, Persian Chicken

Day 2: Grilling

Joojeh Kabob, Persian Chicken ingredients

Take out your chicken and get your grill going. While the grill heats up and the meat loses its chill, prep your veggies. I halved the tomatoes and cut the onion into eighths. Go ahead and start your rice (Basmati is best for this dish).

prepped tomatoes and onions

The basting sauce is simply, lemon juice, butter and the remaining saffron water; combined and warmed through in a saucepan on the stove.

Saffron Butter sauce

Researching grilling techniques for kabobs led us to discover a couple things: 1) definitely use flat skewers to keep your food from spinning on the skewer. 2) to get the best charring on your food, if you can, avoid using a grill altogether and let your kabobs sit directly over the coals. This required us to double thread the food to get longer skewers. It’s no problem if you can’t go this route, your kebabs will still be delicious if you cook them on grill grates.

skewered Joojeh Kabob, Persian Chicken

Try to keep as many of the onions from the marinade on the chicken as you can when you thread the chicken. They will caramelize beautifully!

To the Grill!

Our kettle grill is quite large, so this set up may easier for you if you have a standard size charcoal grill. Grill your kabobs for about 4-6 minutes each side, basting after the first turn then every minute until the chicken is done.

Joojeh Kabob, Persian Chicken on the grill

We found that doing the chicken this way first, then placing the grill grates on for the tomatoes and onions was an easier way to get an even cook on the tomatoes and onions.

Grilled Persian Chicken, tomatoes and onions

I plated the Joojeh Kabobs on a bed of rice; add tomatoes, onions and lavash. I also added some Israeli feta and chopped fresh parsley The saffron is the real star of this recipe. Saffron lends a deep honey flavor, only it’s not sweet. It tastes like how honey smells, if that makes sense…The smoky flavor from the charcoal combines with the saffron for a unique and distinct harmony of flavors.

Joojeh Kabob, Persian Chicken

This is one of our most favorite Persian dishes – it’s so easy, it’s become a go-to for us. I hope you give Joojeh Kabob a try to celebrate the arrival of spring and Persian New Year! How do you like to celebrate the arrival of spring? Let me know in the comments and reach out on Instagram and facebook – Let’s talk all things spring! Take care and be well, friends! xo Kelly

Joojeh Kabob, Persian Chicken

Kitchen Items Used in This Recipe

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Tools For Tahdig (Persian Rice)

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Cloth Napkins for Spring

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Joojeh Kabob

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Dinner, Main Course Persian
By Kelly Djalali Serves: 4-8
Prep Time: 30 Minutes, Plus Overnight Marinate Cooking Time: 15 Minutes Total Time: 45 Active Minutes

For these Persian Chicken Kabobs, the saffron lends a deep honey-scented flavor. The smoky flavor from the charcoal combines with the saffron marinade and buttery basting sauce for a unique and distinct harmony of flavors. Serve with grilled tomatoes and onions.

Ingredients

  • Marinade
  • 3.5 lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
  • 2 Onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. Saffron, ground and dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water, divided
  • 1/2 cup Plain Yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1.5 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1.5 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • Saffron Lemon Butter Baste
  • 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
  • Serve with
  • Rice, Lavash, Feta, Parsley, Grilled Onions and Tomatoes

Instructions

1

Cut chicken into 2-inch cubes.

2

Place chicken in a large shallow container and mix in onions, half the saffron water, yogurt, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

3

Coat all pieces of chicken completely with marinade

4

Cover (or transfer to a Ziplock) and marinate at least 6 hours and up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

5

Start your charcoal at least 30 minutes prior to grilling.

6

Thread chicken breast pieces close together onto metal skewers.

7

In a small saucepan add butter, lemon juice and the other half of saffron water. Cook this over medium heat until melted and combined.

8

Grill kabobs for 4-5 minutes on each side, basting with butter-lemon mix.

9

The chicken is done when the juice running out is no longer pink.

10

Let chicken rest about 5 minutes and slide off skewer.

11

Serve over rice with lavash, feta, tomatoes and onions.

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  • Sylvia Espinoza
    March 18, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    Hi, Kelly! Keeping it interesting 🙂 Learned something new today. The dish appearance is quite appealing. In Texas, spring is celebrated with the sight of bluebonnets! This year, the February deep freeze seems to have somewhat altered their arrival. Our region of rolling hills is a sight to behold when blanketed by bluebonnets! A call to celebrate. Hugs!~

    • Kelly Djalali
      March 18, 2021 at 6:46 pm

      Hi Sylvia! Bluebonnets, how lovely! I bet that is a gorgeous sight! I hope they bloom for y’all soon, We have the most gorgeous Japanese Magnolias and cherry trees blooming now. It’s breathtaking. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a note today, I do enjoy hearing from you, xo Kelly

  • Mari
    March 19, 2022 at 10:04 am

    I love that their word for New Year translates to New Day. Every day is a new day, and I am waiting for it to be spring sooner, rather than later. Bluebonnets sound lovely. As a child, we had lilacs, tulips and irises growing in our yard, so the sweet smell of irises and lilacs always say spring to me. We also had bridal veil, but I don’t remember it having a particular smell. Spring, flowers and chicken kebab make for a wonderful Saturday to remember. I’m betting that chicken smells even more amazing than it looks. Great idea to do the vegetables separately, so they don’t get overdone and mushy. A very happy Saturday to Terry and the Dajalalis. Doesn’t tht sound sound like a rock band from way back? One of my boys loves to fake names and say that he saw them open for (insert famous band name here) in ‘95. So I’m going to say that I saw Terry and The Djalalis open for Nowruz in 2022! People will be wildly confused, but will never admit they haven’t heard of either band!

    • Kelly Djalali
      March 19, 2022 at 10:33 am

      Lol, Mari! I do feel like these last couple of weeks of March snuck up on me. I was actually surprised when I realized tomorrow is the first day of spring. I had to triple check the calendar! I suppose the last few days of thunderstormy weather is partly to blame. Have a wonderful weekend, here’s to lilacs, tulips, blue bonnets and all the spring flowers! xo Kelly

  • Terry
    March 19, 2022 at 10:32 am

    I remember making this last year it was excellent, it’s raining here in Cali today, but we need it so not complaining. You know spring here are the California poppy’s and the daffodils all in bloom no matter what happens they always pop up… thanks for this recipe was the weather warms I will make this it’s so good..have a great weekend ??mom

    • Kelly Djalali
      March 19, 2022 at 10:37 am

      Hi Mom, yes the California poppies – making a golden carpet on the hillsides. I remember pressing those flowers with Grandma when we were kids. It hardly feels like grilling weather when it’s raining, but it is a good recipe to try when the skies clear up! Have a good weekend! xo Kelly