Persian chicken and lamb BBQ - Hello holiday!


Chicken, orange and saffron skewers
Joojeh kebabs 
Husband's kids came yesterday and tonight we will fly off to Finland, so I decided to do a big barbecue last night to celebrate the start of the holiday! I know husband misses his two boys so much when they are not with us and having them with him for 10 whole days is wonderful for him, so I will make sure that we will have a very special time together.

It was a decent evening, just warm enough to eat outside, which I always love. I thought I'd do a couple of Persian recipes that I know we all like. The obvious first choice was my old favourite, joojeh kebab or joojah kabab or jujeh kabob - just pick any vowel you like. I can't believe I haven't blogged this recipe before. It is maybe my all-time favourite way of cooking chicken. It has a beautiful hint of saffron and orange and is just gorgeous. I always use chicken thigh for this because it's tastier and doesn't dry easily, but breast is of course beautiful too, just be careful not to overcook.

I'm a bit hysterical with chicken and maybe cook it a bit too long, just to make sure it's not raw. That's why thigh is better for me. I am just so freaked out by the campylobacter stories and how common it is in supermarket chicken - organic or not, I pretty much wear an anti-contamination suit whenever handling chicken.

Joojeh kebab - chicken in orange, saffron and yogurt marinade
Chicken in the orange and saffron yoghurt marinade
Because trust me - you don't want to get campylobacter. I got it once from a London restaurant - I'm not going to say which one because I can't be 100% sure, but as God is my witness (I'm sure he's got nothing better to do than to witness all kinds of diarrhoea related vows) I will not go there again. I didn't poop my pants or anything too embarrassing, but it was a nasty bug, I tell you.

Didn't miss a day at work though - although in some meetings it was a bit touch and go whether I was going to make it to the end. In my family we don't stay at home easily. My Dad's my ultimate no-sick-leave hero - in his entire over 40 year career as a GP and consultant he missed the grand total of 1.5 days of work when in the 70s he got mumps.

Basmati rice with saffron

My other dish for my Persian BBQ was kebab koobideh, which I actually haven't done before, I have made all sorts of lamb burgers and kofta, but not traditional koobideh. We have had them when visiting husband's family in Dubai and in restaurants here in London. I didn't manage to be completely traditional though, but had to add a few extra teaspoons of various flavours because what would a couple of millennia of Persian cooks know.

With my Persian meats I of course made some fragrant saffron rice and warm flat bread (ready made from the shop - no time for kneading today with the last minute shopping and laundry etc). These kebabs authentically must be served with saffron rice, flat bread and grilled tomatoes, which I completely forgot this time.

Cucumber laban

I also made a green salad, cucumber laban and a huge tray of oven chips. Gosh, that was a lot of food for 4 people actually. No wonder I am not as slim as I was this time last year getting ready to be married in my gorgeous lace dress. I bet it wouldn't zip up now.

Just had to go and put it on. And it did still zip up and looked awesome. I had a tiny emotional moment there and then took the dress off quickly before husband or kids found me in the spare bedroom. Hello Miss Havisham.

Kebab Koobideh recipe (serves 4)

500g ground lamb
250g ground beef
1 large yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 eggs
1 tsp saffron
1 tsp sumac
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

The meat should be very finely ground, so if you have a meat grinder run your ground meat through it once or twice. I just used my big chopping knife and chopped until it was all nice and mushy. You can also make this all lamb or all beef. Grate the onion and drain the extra water off in a sieve or press it dry. Soak the saffron in a tbsp of boiling water. Mince the garlic. Mix all ingredients well and refrigerate until you are ready to barbecue.

Many authentic recipes don't include the garlic or the 5 last ingredients - so it's quite a basic recipe, but I like the added flavours. And baking soda is supposed to tenderise the meat.

The best way to do these is with flat big swordlike skewers. Press a fist size ball of the meat mixture around the skewer and flatten to a long rectangle. They are supposed to be quite long and thin and you should use your fingers to press... oh I can't explain this very well, but watch this video. The guy exaggerates a bit I think, but you get the idea. I have no idea what he says, so I hope nothing rude.

I don't have flat metal skewers so just made mine smaller using normal bamboo skewers.

Joojeh kebab - orange and saffron chicken skewers recipe (serves 4)

Mixed Persian grill - Joojeh kebab, kebab koobideh

1 kg boneless chicken thigh (or breast)
1 large yellow onion
Zest of an orange
Juice of half an orange
Juice of a lime
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp saffron
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup of greek yogurt
2 tbsp oil
salt and pepper

Baste (optional)
Melted butter and soaked saffron water.

Grate the onion, add the zest of one orange and juice of half of it. Add juice of 1 lime and press in the garlic cloves. Dissolve the saffron in a couple of tbsp of boiling water and add to the mix. Add the yoghurt and oil. Cut the chicken into easy to skewer 1-2 inch pieces and add to the marinade mixing well.

Refrigerate making sure the meat is covered in a clean plastic bag so you don't end up contaminating anything in your fridge.

When you are ready to grill skewer the pieces of meat. If you're using bamboo skewers make sure you soak them well beforehand. I often put mine in water in the morning already, so they don't burn on the barbecue. Basting the skewers with saffron butter make them particularly juicy and lovely, but I don't always bother. They're pretty damn good anyway,

Mixed salad with green olives

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  1. OoooooOOoo, they look might fine! They're going on the plan next week, and I know Tom will love them too.
    I actually got sent home from work once when I got a really bad stomach bug (not sure of the culprit) and I turned a grey colour! I got home just in time...we'll say no more :D

    Well have a fantastic holiday and I look forward to reading all about it and lots of picture please, haa! :D