Joojeh kabob is a flavorful grilled meal of chicken in saffron marinade. Make this Persian chicken kabob recipe for a fantastic summer dinner!
If you enjoy grilling in the summer, there are some fantastic Iranian recipes to cook on the grill!
There are countless ways to cook chicken on the grill. In fact, you could probably make a different recipe every night for the entire summer.
Kabob recipes are my favorite, especially when the food is as beautiful as it is delicious. This describes a Persian chicken kabob recipe known as Joojeh (also spelled jujeh) perfectly!
What is Joojeh Kabob?
This dish features boneless chicken breast or tenders, cut into bite sized pieces and threaded onto skewers for grilling. Before it’s cooked, the poultry is seasoned in an absolutely delicious saffron marinade, which gives the meat a gorgeous golden hue!
Chicken Marinade Ingredients
Most of the ingredients for the chicken kabob marinade are basic kitchen staples. You may already have some, or even all of these on hand. Some ingredient substitutions are also included below.
- plain flavored yogurt- any variety of milk or non-dairy yogurt is fine
- onion- yellow or white onion. You’ll need to finely grate the onion, so you’ll also need a box grater or food processor fitted with a grating blade. I also recommend onion goggles or plenty of tissues to wipe tears away from your eyes. 😉
- garlic- either fresh cloves or a jar of minced
- fresh flat-leaf parsley
- sumac- this spice has a tart, slightly acidic flavor. Good substitutes are zaatar, lemon zest, or in a pinch, lemon pepper seasoning
- saffron threads- you'll need ¼ teaspoon of threads to grind up in a mortar and pestle. 20 to 30 threads should do the trick. There really isn't a perfect substitute for the flavor of saffron but turmeric does have a similar golden yellow color, so it can be used if you can't get saffron.
- kosher salt and black pepper
Tips For Making Persian Chicken Kabob
Please be careful when you’re handling raw meat or poultry. Otherwise, bacteria in the meat can cross contaminate onto counters, plates/utensils, and even other foods. If consumed, the bacteria can make you very sick.
To prevent this from happening, please use these food safety guidelines when handling raw meat.
Also, never reuse marinades after they’ve had raw meat or poultry in them. More importantly, don’t use them as a dipping sauce or glaze. The only way to safely use a marinade for a dipping sauce is to first bring it to a full rolling boil for at least 2 minutes.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Don’t pack the skewers too full.
Be sure to leave a little space between each piece of meat. Otherwise, you may have pieces that don’t cook completely.
- Thoroughly preheat the grill, then brush the cooking rack/grate with oil or cooking spray.
- Cook kabobs to an internal temperature of 165°F.
After removing the saffron chicken skewers from the grill, the meat will continue to cook for a couple of minutes. (The culinary term is carryover cooking). Because of this, you can remove them from the heat when the internal temperature of the meat reaches 163°F
Serving Suggestions for Joojeh Kabob
There are two options for serving a joojeh kabob; either on or off of the skewers.
The option you choose will likely depend on who you’re serving the meal to. Keep in mind that metal cooking skewers will be very hot, and it can take quite a while for them to cool down. Younger children might have an easier time if the meat is taken off of the skewers.
Joojeh Kabob (Persian Chicken Kabob)
- 2 lbs chicken breast cubed (See Note 1)
- ¼ tsp saffron threads (a tiny pinch - about 30 threads)
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 medium yellow onion finely grated
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tsp sumac
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Grind the saffron threads in the palm of your hand, or to make it easier, use a mortar and pestle. Mix with 2 tablespoons of warm water in a large bowl and allow saffron to bloom for a few minutes to draw out as much color as possible. It should be a deep ruby red. Set aside (I keep mine in the mortar).
- Using a box grater set over a bowl, finely grate the onion. This will get juicy! When complete, gather grated onion and let drain in a mesh sieve. Transfer drained onion to another mixing bowl and discard onion water.
- Add the yogurt, garlic, parsley, sumac, bloomed saffron, salt and pepper to the grated onion. Mix thoroughly to incorporate completely. Add chicken to bowl and toss to coat with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate 45 minutes.
- Preheat grill to 350°F. Clean grill grates and coat with oil or cooking spray. Shake excess marinade from chicken. Skewer 4 pieces of marinated chicken onto each skewer. Discard leftover marinade.
- Grill skewers for 2-3 minutes on one side, flip over and grill for another 2-3 minutes depending on size of cubed chicken (the internal temp needed is 165°F).
- Serve with warm pita or lavash, steamed rice, couscous, vegetables or salad of choice.
- I use chicken breast meat, or tenders/strips or thigh meat.
Here are approximate cooking times for chicken grilled at 350°F. Internal temp needed is 165°F.
- Boneless breast, cubed/skewers: Grill for 4 minutes per side, then check the internal temp.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.