Sunday, 23 January 2011

"Joojeh" kebab with rice & orzo pilaff

There’s a Persian restaurant near me called Deeyar which I’ve been to with friends a few times fairly recently - the Khoresht Ghormeh Sabzi (lamb stew with fenugreek sauce, red kidney beans & dried lime) is quite good, the Khoresht Geimeh Bademjun (lamb, aubergine, yellow split peas, tomato & dried lemon stew) is fab and the two aubergine starters (one with fried onions & dried yoghurt and the other grilled aubergines mixed with garlic, fried onion and tomatoes - kind of like a baba ganoush) are amazing. Particularly with the taftoon bread that they freshly bake in a clay oven at the front of the restaurant when you order.

On a recent visit, one wet and cold Saturday lunchtime, I opted for the Joojeh Kebab.  A skewer of chunks of chicken breast marinated in saffron, onion and lemon, it was succulent and beautifully fragranced.

It seemed an easy enough dish to recreate at home so having some chicken thigh fillets still in the fridge post-Nepalese curry I whipped up a marinade, with the addition of yoghurt to further tenderise the meat and then grilled the kebab for lunch yesterday.

I just wish I had a clay oven to make some taftoon bread!

Chicken Kebab marinated in saffron, lemon & yoghurt
Serves 1

NOTE: This needs to be started the day ahead of when you want to eat it as the marinating takes 24 hours

Small pinch of saffron threads (about 5 threads)
2 Tbsp warm water
Banana shallot (or small onion), minced (I put the onion into my grinder and made a paste)
Juice of ½ lemon

75-100g natural yoghurt (you need enough to cover the chicken pieces) 
Freshly ground black pepper
Two skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into chunks
Tomato & large mild green chilli, for grilling
Lemon wedges
Za’atar / sumac

Place the saffron in a small bowl and crush to a powder (as much as possible).  Stir in the warn water and let steep for 5 minutes or so.

In a medium bowl stir the saffron water into the yogurt, onion, lemon juice, and pepper.  You can add some salt if you wish but I choose not to as salt can draw out juices from the chicken while it is cooking and can make it a bit tough and dry.

Mix in the chicken pieces, stirring to ensure coated thoroughly, then cover and place in the fridge for 24hours.

When you are ready to cook, preheat the grill and while it is doing so thread the chicken pieces onto a skewer.

Grill for 5 minutes initially then turn them and add tomato halves and a long mild green chilli to the grill.  

Grill for 5-10 minutes more.  Ensure juices in chicken run clear (insert a sharp knife into a fat piece) then serve with the orzo rice pilaff (see below), the tomato and chilli, lemon wedges and a healthy sprinkling of za’atar.

Orzo & rice pilaff

50g long grain white rice
2 tbsp orzo
olive oil
knob of butter
125ml vegetable stock
small bunch parsley, chopped

Heat a dash of olive oil in a pan, add the orzo & rice and stirfry for a few minutes.

Pour in the stock, add the butter and turn heat down as low as it will go and clamp a lid on.

Simmer gently for 5 minutes then remove from heat, take off lid, put a clean dry teatowel across the pan and replace lid (I do this to clamp the lid on even tighter as at this point you are steaming the rice and don’t want the steam to escape).

Leave for 10-15 minutes.  When you remove the lid, the rice should be cooked, slightly moist and fluffy.  If not cooked enough or too wet, put lid back on and put on a low heat source for 5 more minutes.  When cooked, fluff with a fork and stir in the parsley.  Serve with the kebabs and vegetables.

I should point out that although tasty enough, I was a little disappointed in the kebab.  It just didn’t have the lovely succulence of that in Deeyar.  I wonder if it was because I used thigh instead of breast.  I think a bit of experimentation may be required with this one.  The pilaff on the other hand, especially with the charred chilli and tomatoes, far exceeded my expectations and was utterly scrumptious.

No comments:

Post a Comment