Persian Food Sunday…

I've been in a restaurant rut lately. Two visits to Kona Grill proved disappointing and other smaller establishments failed to impress (I've made it a rule not to post negative reviews about locally owned neighborhood restaurants. ) The only place that I have found reliably good food lately is Cafe Rustica – lunch is always solid and my dinner last week of magret of duck with asparagus and gnocchi paired well with the tart sauce that accompanied it. The hubby ordered the same dish and couldn't stop talking about how he cleaned the plate of every last morsel.

Anyway, it's fortunate that most of my friends and family are fabulous cooks - and I mean AWESOME like why not open-your-own restaurant kind of awesome. Which is why I am more excited going to my sister-in-law's home for dinner than I am going out to a restaurant. My sister-in-law, M ,is so used to entertaining she can literally feed an army each time. And how she does it with minimum chaos in the kitchen is beyond me.


So when she invited us over for lunch this Sunday, I was more than willing to rearrange my baking schedule so we could attend. On the menu was jujeh (chicken) kabab which she marinated but left it to the grill master – the "Hungry" Hubby - to cook it on their grill. She also made khoresh-bademjan my favorite persian stew made of eggplants, tomatoes, beef & green "unripe" sour grapes. As if that was not enough she also made what could be the national dish of Iran called Gormeh -Sabzi an herb stew made of fenugreek, parsley, red beans,dried persian limes and beef. And of course there is always Polow – saffron rice.


What I have below is the recipe for Jujeh Kabab from the book, the New Food of Life by Najmieh Batmanglij - a recipe we've used at home. The HH and I noticed that his sister omitted the saffron and the lime juice from the marinade and tossed the cooked chicken in the saffron-lime mixture at the end.We wondered if this prevented the chicken from being chewy and the lime flavor to have more kick. I have yet to experiment with this alternative. In the meantime try this out if you are all so inclined. 🙂


Chicken Kabab

1 tsp. ground saffron dissolved in 2 tbs. hot water

1 cup fresh lime juice

2 tbs. olive oil

2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tsps. salt

2 tsps. freshly ground black pepper

3 lbs. boneless chicken cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

5 medium tomatoes, halved


juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine half the saffron water and lime juice, 2 tbs olive oil, onions, salt and pepper. Beat well with a fork. Add the chicken pieces, cover and marinate for at least 6 hours and up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Turn the chicken twice during this period.

Preheat the grill.

Skewer the tomatoes. Skewer the chicken.

Add the juice of 1 lime and the remaining saffron water to the melted butter. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Paint the tomato and chicken with the bating mixture. Grill the chicken and tomatoes. The chicken is done when the juice that runs out is yellow rather than pink.

Serve with rice.

*pictures above taken with camera phone

26 thoughts on “Persian Food Sunday…

  1. Hi Mark – we miss sharing the kebabs with you, Marilou and the kids too!
    Hi Mary – yep the perfect summer cook-out!
    Hi Paul – yes different kinds of rice dishes…my favorite is actually zuresk polow – the one with barberries.
    Hi Ted – Thanks for the info!

  2. Oh my gosh, I am hungry. have you talked to your sister-in-law about opening a resturant. We are seriously lacking any middle east cusine!

  3. I always assumed that Persian food was like something else — like Middle Eastern, like Greek, like Russian. But it's so much its own cuisine. The flavors of saffron, rose water and lime permeate everything. I am definitely trying this chicken!

  4. I've only made a couple of things out of this book but they've been excellent.
    I'm loving this chicken kabab!
    Ahem, you took these with your iPhone . . . that is incredible! I've got to try mine more.

  5. Lydia says:

    "The flavors of saffron, rose water and lime permeate everything."

    Don't forget pomegranate syrup.. the cooking with fruit seems to be a Persian/Afghan thing..

  6. Hi Susan! Definitely!
    Hi maria – wow your wedding had so much food!
    Hi Vaness – it's always grand to think about opening a restaurant but if you think about what it takes to run it…you almost have no life…that's what is stopping a lot of folks.
    Hi Lydia – persian food is definitely it's own thing. It may have similarities with other cuisine with its neighbors but there are distinct dishes that are so much their own.
    Hi Tanna – so you got the book? Fantastic! the recipes have been pretty reliable so far.
    Hi Ted – definitely pomegranate syrup is used a lot. I forgot to add that my hubby hates rose water!

  7. Those kebabs looks really amazingly delicious, makes me so jealous of not having a stick! but I am sure you will offer me if I am your next door neighbour! 😉 Won't you? . . . .

  8. My dad belongs to a synagogue that has a lot of Persian members. Everytime I go there for the holidays, they serve Persian food. It's so tasty! I specifically LOVE the rice…they make theirs with thin potato slices, the rice and the potatoes are so crispy and delicious!

  9. My father in law was Afghan and wow could he cook. Before his untimely death 10 years ago, he let me in on a few little Afghan dishes that are extremely easy and so amazingly good. For kebobs (beef, lamb or chicken) we use a marinade of plain yogurt (greek or your local grocers), several minced garlic cloves, the juice of 2 lemons and the meat cut into bit sized pieces. Place all in a large ziplock baggie and allow to marinate at least over night. The yogurt tenderizes the meat beyond belief! WHen you are ready grill, skewer on to sieks and grill! So easy and so satisfying….we serve with some grilled veggies, Afghan rice (similar to what you had) and naan (Afghan flat bread)….! Bon Apetite!

  10. I was wondering if you had a recipe for Garlic Sauce/Paste? I've seen a few that call for potatoes or bread but the Med restaurant that I go to has something that is pure white slightly grainy and overwhelmingly garlicky. They won't give up any recipes, I've already asked. 🙂
    Love your blog.

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