Persian BBQ! On fine china please!

A Persian BBQ for 4th of July is not like anything you have ever experienced in your life!

 

Let me illustrate…

Persians are thrilled when they see a park filled with flowers and fitted with barbecue stands, tables, and running water. By running water I don’t mean drinking fountains; I mean a stream. When my husband invited me for the first time to “a BBQ in the park” with his family, I never thought I would end up transported to Iran! When we arrived, the park was already overflowing with Persians [fine, it was L.A., but still], to the point that most Americans must have felt like foreigners in their own backyards! All of a sudden, his mom whips out a small barbecue, a large pot of Chelo (Persian White Rice), freshly made Chai (tea), fresh cut-up fruit, nuts—and a mini reproduction of her kitchen! I was stunned! I looked to my side, and to my amazement his dad had already set up several feet of sitting room…meaning several blankets on the ground, along with a few cushions and, of course, a giant backgammon board and a deck of cards. In the blink of an eye, Sam’s mom was already shaping Kebab into large (and slightly scary) swords and the smell of Persian cuisine was filling the air. If you think a Persian 4th of July BBQ consists of hamburgers and hotdogs you are in for a surprise. You will most likely be served Persian Rice, Kebab, roasted tomatoes and onions served on fine china!

I have lived this experience many times. I have seen innumerable Persian men, old and young, take their shoes off and stick their feet into a stream of questionable water while smoking water pipes as I would hold my breath, hoping the police would not come—because, even though it is just tobacco, it looks too much like something else! I have seen random people in the park coming and sharing their Kebab with us because they felt like they belonged to the same big family. I have seen the same old man, who seems to clone himself from park to park, playing the violin while Sam’s grandmother sings basunak (wedding songs). I have witnessed many poem recitals that neither Sam nor I could understand because the Farsi is so advanced that only a few people in the park have the intellect to comprehend it. I have been harassed by cute old Persian ladies trying to convince me their son is a good candidate for marriage—until the moment they realize I am not Persian! So, although I honestly do not look forward the swarm of flies, the mosquito bites, the leaves that fall in my rice, and the general mayhem of being in a park filled with Persians, I still can’t help being mesmerized at this people’s ability to transport me to the infamous private gardens of Shiraz!

I hope you enjoy my favorite Persian Kebab: Chicken Kebab (Joojeh Kebab). Serve with Persian Rice…check out the video in my YouTube channel HERE. Don’t forget to purchase my cookbook “Persian Food from the Non-Persian Bride” by clicking HERE. Thanks!

Happy 4th of July to everyone and to my wonderful Persian family in LA…I will miss having a BBQ with you today!

 

Chicken Kebab

Joojeh Kebab

When I first tasted this absolutely moist and tangy chicken, I could not figure out what gave it that little “kick.” When I learned how to make it, I found out it was lime! I never would have thought of marinating chicken in lime! In my country we marinate fish in lime. But, what a clever thing to do, indeed!

You are what you eat

To lime or to lemon? That, my friend, is the question at least in my mind! Limes are closely related to lemons but are smaller, green with a sour pulp, and a bit juicier. Limes are usually cultivated in tropical countries, so they are the most familiar to me. Lemons are larger, with bright yellow skins. In the past, lemons were used as cosmetics to make lips red and acquire a pale complexion.

You might think I am biased toward limes because I grew up consuming them, but research shows that while both fruits have antioxidants and anti-cancer properties, limes in particular contain flavonoids that can prevent the contraction of illnesses such as cholera. Not too bad for such a tiny sour fruit!

 

1.5 pounds boneless chicken (breast or dark meat) cut into chunks or 6 drumsticks

Marinade

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

3 cloves garlic

½ onion, grated

½ teaspoon saffron

½ teaspoon turmeric

3 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

¼ cup olive oil

 

metal skewers or wooden skewers soaked in water for 15 minutes

Place the poultry into a one-gallon ziptop bag. Mix all marinade ingredients and pour into the bag. Shake the bag to coat all the chicken and place into the refrigerator for as little as 20 minutes or as long as overnight.

 

From this point on there are 2 choices: grilling or broiling

Grilling

  1. Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill to 400°F.
  2. Thread the chicken chunks or drumsticks onto the skewers. Place on the heated grill. Cook each side for about 10 minutes or until no longer pink. You can also check for doneness with an instant-read food thermometer, which should read 160°F.
  3. Remove the chicken from the skewers and divide into portions.

 

Broiling

  1. Preheat the oven to broil.
  2. Slice the pieces of chicken or drumsticks into chunks and thread them onto the skewers. Place the kebabs on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with oil. Place under the grill and cook each side for about 10 minutes or until an instant-read food thermometer reads 160°F.
  3. Remove the chicken from the skewers and divide into portions.

 

Yield: 6 servings

 

 

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