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Chicken marinated in lemon, saffron & yogurt

Sometimes it’s tricky to find a good chicken kebab. Sometimes too tough or dry. Sometimes bland. A recipe on Chowhound for jujeh kebab looked quite approachable and intriguing. Indeed, the long marination with lemon and yogurt results in a very tender dish. Here is a version with my usual mods and shifts, fit for chicken breast pieces. You can grill the chicken over gas or coals, or broil in the oven; I’ve had yummy results both ways. Alternatively, you can chop the chicken into small pieces, sauté, then serve over hummus.

This dish is great for parties and barbeques. Leftover chicken works well, too, especially when shredded for sandwiches or salads.

Chicken & marinade

  • 2 large (or 3 small) boneless and skinless chicken breasts, gristle removed and sliced into 1 inch wide strips for grilling or broiling. For sautéing, chop into smaller pieces no more than 1/2 thick and 3/4 inch long.
  • 1 small onion, chopped into a small dice
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 bay leaves, torn in half
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons garlic oil; alternatively, use 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus 1 to 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic.
  • 1 to 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 to 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • a generous pinch of saffron threads, steeped in 2 tablespoons of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

Accompany with

  • lavash or pita bread
  • basmati rice or pilaf
  • hummus
  • dried sumac berry powder
  • chopped parsley
  • chopped mint
  • chopped or grilled (or broiled) tomatoes
  • more lemon juice
  • pickles


  1. Mix the chicken and marinade ingredients in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Place in refrigerator and marinate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight; the lesser time is okay for smaller pieces used for sautéing. Stir the contents two or three times during marination.
  2. To broil in an oven, place the drained chicken pieces in a greased heat resistant dish about 2 inches away from the broiler element at the top of the oven. Broil for 6 to 10 minutes, then turn over the pieces, and broil again for another 6 to 10 minutes.
  3. To grill, thread the drained chicken pieces onto kebab skewers (preferably metal). Cook over coals or gas until done, roughly 15 minutes.
  4. To sauté, drain the liquid, and stir fry the chicken and onions in a pan over medium high heat. Optionally add nuts and/or raisins, described in my hummus article. Cook until the remaining liquid evaporates. The marinade makes the chicken tender, so feel free to crush the chicken with a spoon or spatula.
  5. Garnish and serve with desired accompaniments.


  1. Patty wrote:

    Loved this recipe. I checked out the original and decided to try yours because the other seemed….bland. Made it for a Murder Mystery Party set in Cairo for Foodie Friend Types. Mr. BBQ loved it and asked for the recipe.

    Thanks, I am now going through your other recipes.

    Tuesday, 25 August 2009 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
  2. sairuh wrote:

    Patty, I’m glad to hear this dish worked well for you!

    Wednesday, 26 August 2009 at 9:12 am | Permalink

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