َI started my blog almost a year ago and it has been a delicious journey. I’m so grateful to each and every one of you who faithfully follow my posts and support my work with your emails and comments. It truly has been a privilege and joy to connect with amazing people from all over the world with the universal language of food!
This is a Persian food that speaks to all Persians and all the kabob lovers everywhere in the world… So I felt that I should celebrate my blog’s first anniversary with this recipe. Even though the warm weather is quickly coming to an end for most people, I have decided to post a fun grilling recipe, my Joojeh Kabob (or Jujeh Kabob)!
I have to let you in on something about my family, we never stop grilling outside just because the seasons change; we grill all year round. This might have looked very strange to our neighbors at the beginning but we are sure they have gotten used to our four season grilling after all these years.
There are two kinds of Joojeh Kabobs in Persian cuisine, one with bones and the other without; both are equally awesome. I have previously posted a recipe for the Grilled Chicken Drumletts.
The Joojeh Kabob, or Grilled Saffron Chicken recipe that I’m sharing today is grilled pieces of tender chicken breast that has been marinated in fresh lemon or lime juice, onion, saffron, salt, pepper and olive oil.
I always leave out the salt when I marinate lamb or beef kabobs and add it later at the grill, however the marinade for chicken has salt in the mix and leaving it out would result in a chicken kabob that is not very tasty at the end. For best results the chicken pieces should sit in the marinade for at least 24 hours and if you have the time, for up to 48 hours.
The result is a tender, juicy Joojeh Kabob that is not just flavored with lemon/lime juice on the outside but it is actually tenderized with a very pleasant lemon flavor inside.
A great Grilled Saffron Chicken should be perfect golden brown on the outside while it is still juicy inside. Do not leave the chicken on the grill for too long because nothing ruins Joojeh Kabob as much as overcooking, but be mindful that the meat should be white all the way through and not pink. The heat source should be about 4-5 inches away from the chicken. Very hot fire combined with frequent turning is the key to grilling a perfect chicken.
The boneless, skinless chicken breasts are cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces and tossed with fresh lemon juice, sliced onions, ground saffron powder, salt, black pepper, then the olive oil is mixed in. The chicken is covered and marinated for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator. The marinated chicken is then skewered and grilled along with tomatoes, onion and sweet peppers. I love serrano peppers so I have grilled some too and they are pretty HOT!
Enjoy this delicious Joojeh Kabob and grilled vegetables either over Sangak (Persian flat bread) or Persian Rice. If you decide to serve it with the white Persian Rice have some butter at room temperature to toss with the rice and don’t forget to sprinkle the rice with Sumac. Serve some fresh lemon or lime wedges on the side, and of course like all Persian Kabobs, Joojeh Kabob tastes delicious with a few wedges of fresh white or red onions!
Marinate Time: 24-48 hours
you will need an outdoor grill and about 6 or 7 metal skewers
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
- 1 small onion, peeled and sliced
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
- ⅛ tsp ground saffron powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- FOR THE GRILLED VEGETABLES:
- Small tomatoes (whole)
- Small onions cut in half
- Sweet colorful mini peppers (whole)
- Serrano peppers (optional)
- Olive oil for brushing over the veggies
- Sprinkle of salt and ground black pepper
- Trim all the fat from chicken breasts and cut them into equal pieces (1 ½ - 2 inches) and place them in a medium glass container.
- Add the sliced onions, saffron, salt, black pepper and lemon juice to the chicken and toss until the chicken pieces are uniformly coated with saffron and yellow.
- Add the olive oil to the dish and stir to combine.
- Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24-48 hours. Leave the marinated chicken out at room temperature for about 45 minutes before grilling.
- Prepare the outdoor grill for high heat because this Chicken Kabob needs to cook fast otherwise it will dry out. If using coals, they should be burned until they are covered with a white ash before grilling. The grill grates should be 4-5 inches above the heat source.
- Use narrow metal skewers to skewer the Chicken Kabobs. Skewer the tomatoes, onions and peppers separately because these vegetables do not cook at the same time. Spray or brush the skewered vegetables with a light coating of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper before grilling them.
- Place two metal bars (I purchased mine from hardware store) at top and bottom of the grill grate and rest the tip and handle of the skewers on the bars so the chicken and vegetables don't touch the grates.
- If there is not enough space on the grill for all the skewers, grill the vegetables first and keep them warm until you grill the chicken.
- Grill the Jujeh Kabob over high heat. As soon as one side starts changing color the other sides should be grilled so the hot fire seals in the juices. Then keep turning the skewers until golden brown on all sides and no longer pink inside. Check one piece of the Jujeh kabob by cutting through it with a knife, if it is white and juicy it is ready. Remove the kabobs that are ready from fire and keep them warm under aluminum foil and serve as soon as all are done grilling.
- Enjoy the Chicken Kabobs and grilled vegetables over Sangak (Persian flat bread) or Persian rice. If you are serving the chicken kabobs with white rice, add a dab of softened butter on top and toss gently with a fork to coat the warm rice, and sprinkle it with sumac for the traditional style. Serve the kabobs with extra lemon/lime wedges with a few wedges of fresh white or red onions.
Deana Evans says
Oh Homa, this is another lovely recipe I cannot wait to try! The pictures are just beautiful, too. Thank you so much for sharing!
Dear Deana, thank you very much, I’m so glad you like my Jujeh Kabob recipe. It really is quite good, you will like it. Let me know what you think of it.
Cindy Chan says
I saw another chicken skewer recipe that says lemon juice will make the chicken meat tough. Now i’m not sure what to think
Cindy; this is a great family recipe that several other websites have copied and wrongfully called it their own; it’s that good 😉 Also, as you see in the comments, this is a very popular recipe on this blog. I hope you will give it a try and write me back with your thoughts.
Fae's Twist & Tango says
Happy 1st Blog Anniversary, Homa jan! You started a beautiful blog and consistently built it with delicious quality recipes, tutorials, photos and ever so valuable ‘how-to’s’.
What a wonderful recipe you’ve picked to celebrate this occasion. I don’t grill as beautifully as you, but I grill all year round too. Well, having said that, we have almost the same climate all year round in California. 🙂
Thank you Fae aziz for your kindness and support, it means a lot! Yes I used to hear that about California climate ALL the time from my son when he lived there 🙂 I’m talking zone 5 here!!
Hello Homa and thank you for your wonderful blog. Your recipes are amazing! I know the outdoor grill is the most ideal cooking method for this dish however I was wondering how successful it would be in an oven broiler or indoor electric grill. Your thoughts would be most appreciated. Thank you Mary
Hi Mary, thank you very much for your kind words! I have made these kabobs (skewered) on indoor electric grill and they have been delicious. You could also use your oven in the broil setting. Thread the marinated chicken pieces on all-metal skewers, place them on a large cookie sheet so the handle and the tips are sitting on the edge of the cookie sheet and kabobs are not touching the bottom. Place the rack on the second setting from the top, preheat the oven to broil. Broil the kabobs until golden brown on one side, then turn and broil the other side. I have never made these kabob in the broiler but I believe each side will take about 8 minutes or so. You will need to check them. The chicken pieces should be cooked through and white inside but still juicy. Good luck and let me know how this works for you. Nooshe Jan!
R Safai says
Homa joon – one question – do you ever add yogurt to this recipe (in the chicken marinade)?
Hello R Safai jan, I have found that the the simple marinade of lemon juice and olive oil makes the joojeh kabob tender and adds a really nice flavor. I also prefer the look and color of these kabobs without the yogurt. Have a great week
Many thanks for your essay
I get more information of your website. In fact I am searcher and sometimes I write an essay about anything to English and try to inform other people with Persian rich culture. Today I copied one of your recipe picture for my essay. It is for you and it is beautiful.
I like to talk together more more.
Dear Saffron, I’m happy that you like my recipes and I would also like to talk more about different recipes with you. I saw your website and it is very informative and beautiful. I welcome other sites to share my pictures and recipes on their page; however, I ask that you give credit to Persian Mama with a link back to my page. Please copy and paste this link https://persianmama.com/jujeh-kabob-grilled-saffron-chicken/ on your site with my saffron chicken picture and recipe. Thank you very much for your interest and cooperation.
You cropped persian mama’s watermark completely out! That’s pretty deceitful behavior.
Dear Renee thank you so much for letting us know about this copyright infringement by http://www.iransaffrons.com/ about their post: http://www.iransaffrons.com/iran-saffron/iransaffrons3/grilled-saffron-chicken.html
We have contacted them about this unlawful posting of our copyrighted material and expect that the issue will be resolved soon.
We truly appreciate your kind support and assistance in this matter.
plasterers bristol says
Wow these look soo good. Bet they taste amazing. Thanks for sharing this recipe.
Thank you Simon! You’re welcome.
I do not have an outdoor grill, but I am going to try to adapt this recipe for the oven. Do you advise against the use of yogurt & turmeric in the marinade? I do not see these in your ingredients list. Thanks!
Hi Brisa, I don’t advise against it, I personally don’t like using yogurt in marinades and feel that a simple marinade made with lemon juice and olive or vegetable oil tenderizes the meat and gives the kabobs a wonderful flavor that yogurt does not. Turmeric tastes great with chicken, so if you like, for a different flavor you could definitely use about 1 teaspoon of it in the marinade instead of saffron.
There is a Persian Restaurant in Canberra where they serve this chicken. It is amazing! Thanks for the recipe, I’ll give it a go!
That is wonderful Andy, let me know what you think!
My local supermarket didn’t have Saffron Powder so I used Saffron Thread instead. It didn’t work out so well (I should have checked with you first) I’ll try again when I get the right ingredients. I plan to eat plenty of it this Sunday though as I’m joining the Persian New Year Celebrations at the local restaurant 🙂 Happy new year from Australia!
Greetings Andy; Happy new year to you dear friend. You probably have reviewed my “all about spices” post, but here is the link: https://persianmama.com/all-about-spices-2/ to get the most of your saffron. I’m sure your next joojeh kabob is going to be a great success. I wish you a grand start to the new year with lots of good food and good times.
Hello and Happy (belated) New Year!
I started the marinade for this today to cook with a friend tomorrow evening. I love Persian food and am looking forward to trying my hand at it for the first time. You have a fantastic website that I plan to explore even further! I will let you know how it goes!
Hello James, thank you for the new year wishes; hope you’re enjoying a warmer spring weather in your area. I really appreciate your comment and can’t wait to hear all about your Persian food adventures 🙂
Thank you for your reply! I’m pleased the dish came out exactly as I remember, easy to follow instructions and recipe! We both enjoyed it, and I look forward to trying more recipes from your blog. Have a great day!
James, thanks for writing back. It is so nice to hear that both of you enjoyed it. Please let me know when you try my other recipes. Have a wonderful weekend.
Dear Homa, I’ve had to move to this “ethnic” food desert that’s suburban OH, so, home cooking is one answer. I’ve tried your Joojeh Kabob recipe tonight along with Persian Rice over yogurt Tahdig. Amazing ? It turned out delicious and makes the time and planning worth it. I’m guilty of the grill being not hot enough so the meat was a tad bit dry but the rice turned out incredible. I ran out of saffron (it’s fixed for next time!) so used plain whole milk yogurt but it still turned out beautifully golden. Portoricains call this Pegao.. similar crispy rice. I’ve eternally in love with “ethnic” food and wanted to thank you for taking the time to post so many details in your recipe. Bon appétit and thank you!
Hello Christoph; it’s lovely to read your comment. I’m always thrilled to read success stories of my recipes. I agree, the plain yogurt tahdig is always amazing, and thanks for telling me about Pegao 🙂 I hope you will keep me posted when you try my other recipes.
I’ve been craving joojeh kabob for so long now and I want to be able to make my own. I’ve gone through a lot of recipes on the internet and the majority seem to use yogurt. I tried it once but it was underwhelming for whatever the reason. The pictures you posted look amazing and I think this is what I will try next. How do you feel about “chicken seasoning” packets that they sell in the khoraks ? I’ve seen them and have noticed that people use it in their recipes… but I prefer the simplicity of your recipe.
thanks for posting this !!! i’ll try it once it’s BBQ season here
Dear Jamie, I think you will like this recipe. I am not a fan of seasoning packages in kabobs, and like you, I prefer the simplicity of fresh ingredients. I would recommend trying this marinade once, as is, and then if you still want to try the seasoning, try it the next time. I hope you will write me back and tell me all about your kabobs 🙂
Okay great ! I will try as is. Thanks Persian Mama 🙂
I will certainly report back. I am currently eyeing your chicken piccata recipe hehe … I will slowly make my way through your recipes. I love Persian food and am glad I found your site. Thanks again and take care !
Thank you Jamie; happy cooking 😉
I tried ur recipe.
It came out great. Thanks alot.
Glad to hear that Athar! Thank you for letting me know, have a great weekend 🙂
I mixed it up and had my husband make these kebabs this week (grilling is the man’s job in our house!). Delicious! Particularly with Persian salad. I never tried grilling cherry tomatoes before and those were also yummy. Alas, the toddler very much prefers saucy dishes like khoreshes and seemed a bit underwhelmed. So many opinions in such a small person.
My family is coming to visit this weekend, so I’m going to try to make shirin polo, another dish I remember from Westwood. I sent away for fancy Persian orange peel so I can save my strength a bit. Will let you know how it goes!
Have a great Fourth of July –
Hello Allison, I’m glad you like this recipe; don’t you just love how just a few simple ingredients add so much flavor to chicken? I think your little girl needs a few more teeth before she can truly appreciate kabobs, but she will get there 😉 Thank you for your comment and Have an awesome 4th with your family!
Hello – a very delicious website, my congratulations to you. A question: after I liquefy saffron and if I don’t use all of it, what is the best way to keep liquefied saffron for a day or two?
In case I was unclear in my above question, I put a few strands of dried saffron in a very small glass, used some of it to marinade the uncooked chicken for 24 hours, and wondering how to best keep the rest of already liquefied saffron until I use it, after 24 hours, to baste the chicken while grilling. Thankyou for your advice.
Hi Nellie; it should be okay, covered in room temperature, or in the refrigerator! So glad you’re enjoying my blog, keep in touch 🙂
I will be making this in the very near future! This looks amazing!
Super! This is by far one of the best kabob recipes that is easy to prepare, with very reliable results. Happy grilling 😉
This was juicy and delicious! My wife and I have made it twice, and we can’t get enough.
Thank you for your comment Mike! So happy you and your wife have enjoyed this kabob, please keep in touch!
Homa I love your recipes! This was dinner tonight – delicious. I’m learning Persian and teaching myself to cook Persian food at the same time, and your website is so so helpful. Thank you!
A pleasure Georgina! So happy you’ve enjoyed this kabob. Best of luck to you learning Persian; wow amazing! Thanks for writing to me and please keep in touch 🙂
Cindy Chan says
I saw another chicken skewer recipe that says lemon juice will make the chicken meat tough. Now i’m not sure what to think
Hi Cindy; lemon juice has the opposite effect, it actually tenderizes the meat. To taste how delicious and absolutely tender and juicy this chicken is, you will need to try it for yourself and then let me know what you think.
Hi Homa, I am planning to use this recipe for a large party of about 30 guests. How many chicken breasts should I make approximately. Also Can I make ahead of time and keep it warm without drying it out?
Dear Angie; I usually use one breast half (about 8 oz) per person. Of course fresh off the grill is the best, but grilling for 30 guests will take some time and making ahead is more convenient. However, I would recommend to grill ahead, no longer than 1-2 hours before serving; keep them covered and warm in the lowest temperature of the oven. Also, keep the kabobs in a separate dish and don’t mix them with the grilled vegetables. Happy grilling 🙂
Your site is gorgeous! I found you looking for a new jujeh kabob recipe. This one will definitely work. I also like to combine a little more saffron with melted butter and baste the kabobs – punches up the the saffron flavor.
Also making chelo and salad Shirazi for my son’s birthday dinner. Will come back often!
Hello and thank you dear Janet. I love the idea of basting the kabobs with saffron/butter; great idea! Happy birthday to your precious son; chelo and salad shirazi sound fantastic with joojeh kabob! Enjoy and please keep in touch 🙂
NEGAR AMELI says
Hello Homa khanoom,
Needed advice on the ‘proper grilling’ of this wonderful recipe/instruction for chicken breast joojeh kabob?
Husband keeps producing bone dry kabob which is disappointing after all the efforts…we have an outdoor gas grill —he tells me the heat is uneven and I have put too many pieces on one skewer? excuses perhaps?!—-would love to produce quality kabobs.—-
Also, where in the grilling sequence do you baste the kabobs?
Would appreciate your insight!
Hello Negar jan; love reading your comment 😉
*Each grill is different but as a rule the best temperature to cook chicken is over medium heat so that the inside cooks by the time the top turns a light golden brown. *If the top or bottom of the grill is not heating well, shorter kabobs might work better. *Next time have a knife and fork ready by the grill; when you’re happy with the color, cut through one of the larger pieces; it should be juicy but not pink. Remove the kabobs from the grill and immediately remove the skewer so they stop cooking.
*There is oil in the marinade so usually there is no need to baste, but if you want to use the marinade for basting you could do so only at the beginning of grilling, as soon as you turn the kabobs. You could also brush the kabobs with melted butter after you remove the skewers from the heat.
I know your next kabobs will be juicy and tasty 🙂
Can you use boneless chicken thighs for this recipe instead of boneless breasts? I found the thighs are less likely to dry out on the grill. Would appreciate you thoughts.
Hi Catherine, Yes that will be fine!
I accidentally used Safflower instead of Saffron – just realized they are different spices. Do you think it will ruin the marinade? Have you ever used Safflower in substitution? Thanks!
Hi Mary, it should not ruin the marinade, but it will have a different flavor. Unfortunately saffron does not really have a substitute! Good luck and happy kabobing. Have a great weekend 🙂
I want to make this this weekend and I was wondering if I can use ground chicken in lieu of the chicken breasts. I have a senior who has trouble chewing and swallowing solid meats and poultry so I’ve been substituting for the ground meats. Thank you!!
Hi CH, Go ahead and marinate the chicken pieces as per the recipe. Then remove them from the marinade and grind them. Form patties with the ground chicken and grill them like hamburgers with a brush of butter. Hope your guest will love this. Let me know how it works out for you. Happy grilling. Take care and have a great weekend!
This recipe is delightful! It was fast and simple. My family loved it. I have made a few recipes from your site so far and all have turned out perfectly. I cannot wait to try them all.
Dear Darya, I’m glad that you like my favorite recipe for this kabob 😉
It is so nice to hear that you’re happy with my recipes! I would love to read your feedback on the recipes that you have tried. Please take care and keep in touch 🙂
Can’t wait to try this! Just 1 question…do we just slice, dice or mince and drain the onions for this recipe? If we slice or dice do we just discard them after marinating?
Hi Amal, the onions may be sliced or diced medium without draining and yes the onions are discarded before grilling.
Ben Chater says
Hi Homa, Greetings from England!! Just cooked these delicious kebobs for my wife and 2 kids. Absolutely delicious. Was I naughty adding one crushed clove of garlic as well + half a tea spoon of brown sugar to the marinade?? 🙂 I discovered your website this week and have now done 2 recipes. I thank you very much for this very important resource namely the website you have created. I have decided to spend the next 12 months cooking mainly your recipes for my family as I am very interested in Persian history and culture. God bless xx
Greetings Ben, welcome to my blog dear friend from England! I am always happy when someone starts cooking my recipes for the first time. I’m specially excited to read your comments and feedback (and your lovely family’s feedback) when you try my other recipes for the next 12 months; you will have a fun time in the kitchen and learn the ins and outs of the Persian cooking and culture 🙂
I love that you have made your own additions. Please take care and keep in touch
I had promised a couple of years back (if not more) to update you after trying this recipe. Kateh was the first of your recipes that i tried. It brought back beautiful memories of life in Tehran.
A while after our last exchange, i tried this joojeh kabob recipe and i cannot tell you how wonderful it turned out! Your meticulous instructions are simply precious! Another fool proof recipe which i use to impress my guests time and again. Wish i could send you a picture.
Please don’t ever stop sharing your gems. The love your food brings to my sofreh is simply magical ❤️
Dear GG, good to hear from you! I’m very happy to read your thoughtful message here! It is always nice to know that my readers are busy in their kitchen cooking my recipes, and I would always love to see your pictures and read your comments. You could send the pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks so much for your attention, yes I have tried to explain the recipes the same way that I would in a class 🙂
Please take care and keep in touch