Persian Grilled Chicken Kabobs

June 20, 2019
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Joojeh kabab is a classic grilled chicken kabob recipe from Iran. Chicken pieces are smothered in a delicious saffron marinade and have such bright flavor thanks to lemon. —Shadi Hasanzadenemati

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into thick slices
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2–inch pieces
  1. Sprinkle ground saffron on the ice cubes in a small bowl and let it sit on the counter until the ice melts. This will be your bloomed saffron.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the Greek yogurt, onion, olive oil, lemon juice, bloomed saffron, and salt.
  3. Add the chicken pieces to the yogurt and saffron mixture and stir well to mix. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.
  4. Once ready to grill, take the bowl out of the fridge and place it on the counter. Let it sit for about 30 minutes to come to room temperature.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the gas or charcoal grill.
  6. Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers (make sure to separate the onions) and grill for abut 6 to 7 minutes on each side until they are golden brown on the outside and white and juicy on the inside. (You can turn the skewers a few times to make sure they're nicely grilled and golden on all sides.) Check one piece of the saffron chicken kebab by cutting it with a knife; if it's white and juicy on the inside, it's ready.
  7. Serve with fresh lavash or pita bread and some shirazi salad on the side.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Shadi Hasanzadenemati
    Shadi Hasanzadenemati
  • Granina23
  • selimr
  • trvlnsandy
Shadi HasanzadeNemati is a food writer and recipe developer at Unicorns in the Kitchen. She loves a good tahdig and her favorite spice is saffron.

11 Reviews

Granina23 September 21, 2023
I’m not Persian and I don’t know how big the ice cubes are for blooming the saffron and if all that water goes into the yogurt mix. My ice cubes come from the fridge in half circles (1 tsp size) There are other ice cubes that are 2 tbsp size. Umm do you strain the saffron ?
trvlnsandy September 21, 2023
Your ice sounds small. I believe 'regular' ice cube trays are about 1 inch X 1 inch by 2 1/2 inches (I've never measured and mine are way larger). No, you do not strain the saffron - I usually crumble and add. I doubt you or I would detect much difference in taste if we just crumbled it up some and added it. Or maybe soak in a little water if that's easier for you. I think the reason the ice bloom is done is it's a slower process allowing it to dissolve in better? but not sure.
selimr July 15, 2020
I made rice since I didn't have any pita, and I grilled onions and cherry tomatoes as well, and everything was really delicious. The marinade is absolutely fantastic.
trvlnsandy August 13, 2019
what do you do with the onion? I see 'one yellow onion' in the list of ingredients, and a note to separate the onions, but don't see any on the skewers or directions on how to prepare it - slices, chunks, does it go on the grill? Welcome new citizen!
Mark F. August 13, 2019
STEP 2: In a large bowl, mix the Greek yogurt, onion, olive oil, lemon juice, bloomed saffron, and salt.
trvlnsandy August 13, 2019
yes -but do you chop it, slice it, put it in whole, and then, does it get grilled? What? Georgian version, onions are grilled by some, not the others. When she says 'separate the onions', I could take it separate the slices, or leave them behind in the bowl. So, I would ask again - how is the onion prepared?
Shadi H. August 14, 2019
Hi, thank you for your comment. I have edited the recipe for more clarity. The onion needs to be cut into thick slices and then separated and discarded when you're ready to grill the chicken. Hope you enjoy this recipe.
trvlnsandy August 14, 2019
thank you. It's what I expected, but I've had so many versions of kabobs - wanted to know for sure how yours were done. Trying them tomorrow night.
Darria D. July 17, 2023
I grate the onion for this recipe, it gives a lot of flavor. :)
Granina23 September 21, 2023
How do you chop onions into wedges or circles ?
trvlnsandy September 21, 2023
Where does it say to do that?