Chicken, lemon and saffron kebab (joojeh kabab)

chicken lemon and saffron kebab joojeh kabab 1 saffron

Some versions of this insanely easy-to-make Iranian classic feature yoghurt and ground, dried chilli in the marinade, so add these if you like. Don’t skimp on the marinating time – it tenderises the chicken and infuses it with an unforgettably tangy, aromatic flavour.


  • 800 g skinless chicken thigh fillets
  • onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 125 ml (½ cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, for cooking
  • 125 ml (½ cup) lemon juice
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ tsp saffron threads
  • steamed rice, Greek yoghurt, roasted tomatoes, grilled onion and mint leaves, to serve


Marinating time overnight

(You will need to start this recipe one day in advance)

Cut the thigh fillets into 3 cm pieces and place them in a non-reactive bowl. Combine the onion and oil in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process briefly to combine well. Pour the mixture over the chicken then, using clean hands, mix well to coat chicken evenly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap then refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, stirring the chicken occasionally to evenly colour it with the saffron.

Drain the chicken well, reserving the marinade. Thread the chicken pieces tightly onto 8 metal skewers. Heat a chargrill pan or barbecue to medium-high and brush with the oil. Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes, turning often, seasoning well and brushing with a little of the reserved marinade. The chicken should be a little charred and cooked through. 

Serve with the rice, yoghurt, tomato, onion and mint.

Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O’Brien.

Food preparation by Nick Banbury.


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