Joojeh kebab is a staple barbecued dish of Iran, and unofficially the national dish of the country. Joojeh literally means grilled chicken, and this very simple dish is indeed a classic.
The dish is characterized by its yellow tone from the saffron and the delicate tender meat achieved by the marination in yogurt and lime juice. The flavor is gentle but wonderful, the lightness of the meat and the aroma of saffron permeate the meat. This kebab is served with mint leaves and a bread, but I generally serve it plain as a starting course to allow your palate to enjoy the delicate flavors.
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4 lb chicken drumsticks preferred, thighs or breast
1 white onion, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups yogurt
1/2 cup lime juice
5 cloves garlic, minced and pasted
4 tablespoons olive oil
A generous pinch saffron
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon pepper
Lavash or pita bread
Mix the chicken, onion, yogurt, lime juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and marinate at least overnight, or 24-36 hours. The magic to the recipe is the long marination that allows the lime juice to tenderize the meat and the saffron infuses the meat with its beautiful aroma and flavor.
Cook the chicken on the grill for 15 minutes turning after every 5 minutes. Baste the meat with the marinade to add extra flavor. Finish with a final baste of ghee to crisp the outsides. Make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through and falls off the bone easily.
Alternatively, you can bake the chicken at 375 F for 20 minutes on a lined baking sheet. Baste every 5 minutes and turn after 10 minutes. Finish with a final baste of ghee.
Serve with mint leaves and bread of your choice like a lavash or pita.