June 15, 2015

Chicken Koobideh - Grilled Ground Chicken Kabab

Ground Chicken Kabab

With the arrival of warm weather it's finally time to take my cooking outside to my backyard surrounded by ivy covered trees, tall shrubs and evergreens, and get my grill going to make some delicious کباب کوبیده مرغ - chicken koobideh for my family. The entire process of making کباب - kabab from preparing the meat mixture, shaping it on long metal skewers with evenly spaced ridges, to standing over a hot grill on a hot summer day with all the flames, smoke and smell of charcoal is an especially nostalgic experience for me. کوبیده - Koobideh is a dish that I remember the most from my childhood since my mother would make kabab very often while we were growing up. I remember our portable منقل - manghal (grill) that was placed by the side of the hayat (court-yard), always accessible and never put away even during winter. All it needed was some charcoal, matches and a بادبزن - badbezan (handheld fan) to get the fire going -- rain or shine. Well, of course mostly shine and very little rain where I grew up.

There are many varieties of kabab in Persian cuisine. Chelow Kabab Koobideh (saffron steamed plain rice with grilled kabab) is a national dish of Iran and it is traditionally made with ground lamb. However, when I moved here I found the lamb to have a strong smell and flavor and was very different from what I was used to in Iran. Therefore, I mostly use beef instead of lamb in my cooking. This is a low-fat chicken koobideh recipe for those of us trying to cut back on red meat  A cross between kabab koobideh and joojeh kabab that's worth a try!

Kabab Koobideh Morgh - Chicken Koobideh

Makes 6 metal flat skewers

2 pounds ground chicken (preferably thigh meat)
1 large onion, grated
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
1-2 tablespoons liquid saffron
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
A pinch of red pepper
Juice of 1-2 limes
Olive oil


  1. In a large mixing bowl combine ground chicken, grated onion, turmeric, saffron, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Mix well using your hands. Cover with a plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to come together.
  2. Leave a bowl of cool water next to you on the counter. Take a handful of the chicken mixture, place it around the skewer, dip your hand in the water and shape the meat into a long kabab. 
  3. In a small bowl mix the 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the lime juice. 
  4. Prepare your charcoal or gas grill, place the skewers over the grill, turning them every few minutes until each kabab is fully cooked.
  5. Brush the olive oil and lime juice mixture over the kababs on both sides half way through cooking.
Place the kababs on a platter, squeeze a bit of lime juice over the kabab, sprinkle with sumac. Serve with rice, grilled vegetables, mast o khiar and doogh.