Chicken Koobideh

1 hour
25 minutes
1 hour 30 minutes
7 to 8
One of my favorite Persian dishes is Chicken Koobideh and we’re going to make it at home and in the oven with a little trick! Bursting with color and flavor from the saffron, this juicy ground chicken kebab is so simple yet so delicious. Served traditionally with fluffy basmati rice or flatbreads, each bite of these succulent smokey skewers will have you speechless!
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Chicken Koobideh

One of my favorite Persian dishes is Chicken Koobideh and we’re going to make it at home and in the oven with a little trick! Bursting with color and flavor from the saffron, this juicy ground chicken kebab is so simple yet so delicious. Served traditionally with fluffy basmati rice or flatbreads, each bite of these succulent smokey skewers will have you speechless!

The Saffron

Let’s start by talking about the saffron! Being half Moroccan myself, I’m very familiar with saffron as we also use it heavily in our cuisine like Iranians. Another name for saffron is threads of gold because of how expensive saffron is sold for. It’s also a lot more expensive in America so my mom always buys it in bulk in Morocco and brings it back home with her. The good news is a little goes a long way and it’s not used in a lot of dishes so you won’t need to be purchasing it a lot. Now, let’s get into preparing the saffron for use!

  1. Crush the Saffron: Begin by crushing the saffron threads using a mortar and pestle or by placing them in a small bowl and gently pressing down with the back of a spoon or cup. This helps to release the flavors and aroma locked within each thread.
  2. Steep the Saffron: Place the crushed saffron in a bowl and add a small handful of ice cubes. Allow the ice cubes to melt slowly, allowing the saffron to steep in the cold water. As the ice melts, it will release a vibrant yellow/orange color. Be careful as it will stain everything and anything it comes into contact with!
  3. Wait for Steeping: Let the saffron steep in the ice water until the ice cubes are fully melted. This process typically takes a few minutes so it definitely requires some patience.

Once the ice cubes are fully melted, you’ll be left with saffron-infused water, also known as liquid gold! This will get added to the marinade and can also be mixed with basmati rice for that yellow color.

THE SKEWERS

The most important part about making koobideh at home is that you need a very specific kind of skewers that they used in Persian restaurants and in Persian homes for BBQ. What makes them special is that they’re wide and flat just like the shape of a koobideh. The unique shape of the skewers allows you to flatten it out wide and long without the meat falling off.

I purchased mine off Amazon in a pack of 8. I’ve used them a few times now and have loved them! I’m also buying a set for my family because my mom has been wanting to make Persian Kabobs at home too. You can find and shop them at this link too. 

MAKING THE MARINADE

Now that the saffron water is ready, let’s make the marinade. I like to combine everything in a small bowl first and then add it to the meat so everything is evenly incorporated rather than adding each ingredient to the meat.

HERE ARE THE INGREDIENTS YOU NEED:

  • yellow onion, grated & squeezed
  • minced garlic
  • saffron water
  • coriander
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • turmeric
  • smoked paprika

For the onion, start off by grating and squeezing it. You can use a kitchen towel to drain the excess water from the onions. Another option is to use a cheesecloth and try to squeeze all the water out to the best of your ability.

Then in a small bowl, add the onion, garlic, saffron water, coriander, salt, black pepper, turmeric, and smoked paprika. Mix together well and add it to the ground chicken in a large bowl. 

You can make the mince chicken yourself or just buy ground chicken from the store. Either works fine! If making your own mince, I like to use a half and half blend of chicken breast and chicken thighs. You just chop the meat into chunks and add to a food processor. Blend until it resembles ground meat. The fat is what will keep the koobideh nice and juicy. If the ground chicken you use is not fatty, you can always add a spoonful of ghee to the mixture.

SHAPING AND COOKING

Shaping the skewers takes a little bit of practice but once you get it down, it’ll be so easy! There is also no need to worry because if you fail, you can just take the meat off the skewer and restart as many times as you need until you get it right!

The technique is to grab a handful of meat and press it along one side of the skewer and start to elongate it up and down until you have the desired length. You have to make sure there is not too much meat or thickness along the skewer or it has the potential to break apart.

Once you have the desired length of koobideh on the skewer, it’s time to shape it into the signature design. Use one hand to hold the skewer at the bottom and the other hand to start from the top shaping. Pinch with your thumb to press down and up while wrapping your other fingers around to pinch the meat and repeat that motion moving down the skewer. 

We are going to make these in the oven but if you have a BBQ without a grill plate, you can also do that too. Pop the skewers in a tray that allows the meat to not be touching any surface. It needs to be rising above. Transfer to the oven and cook for around 10 to 15 minutes until done in the center. To get it a bit charred on top, broil it at the end for a few minutes, watching it closely.

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Chicken Koobideh

One of my favorite Persian dishes is Chicken Koobideh and we’re going to make it at home and in the oven with a little trick! Bursting with color and flavor from the saffron, this juicy ground chicken kebab is so simple yet so delicious. Served traditionally with fluffy basmati rice or flatbreads, each bite of these succulent smokey skewers will have you speechless!

One of my favorite Persian dishes is Chicken Koobideh and we’re going to make it at home and in the oven with a little trick! Bursting with color and flavor from the saffron, this juicy ground chicken kebab is so simple yet so delicious. Served traditionally with fluffy basmati rice or flatbreads, each bite of these succulent smokey skewers will have you speechless!

1 hour
25 minutes
1 hour 30 minutes
7 to 8

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 teaspoon saffron, crushed
  • 1/4 cup ice cubes
  • 1 whole yellow onion, grated and drained
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt 
  • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika

Instructions

  1. Crush the saffron in a bowl and add a small handful of ice cubes. Allow the ice to melt and steep the saffron until the ice is fully melted.
  2. To a bowl, add the grated onion, garlic, saffron water, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, salt, and smoked paprika. Mix together.
  3. Add the ground chicken to a large bowl and add the marinade. Mix together well until combined.
  4. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  5. Shape the seasoned ground chicken onto the skewers and elongate them so each kebab is about 8 to 12 inches long. It depends on you to make them as short or as long as you want.
  6. Then use one hand starting at the top to press down using your thumb while pinching the rest of your fingers on the side to create little bumps along the kabob. Repeat this motion moving all the way down. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
  7. Place on a tray that is lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake in the oven for 13 to 15 minutes until cooked through and has a char.
  9. Change the oven setting to broil for a few minutes at the end to get the top a bit charred for that BBQ effect if needed.
  10. Serve with basmati rice, sumac, and butter to enjoy!
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