There are few smells that remind me of being a kid and visiting family than saffron. I remember driving to Iowa City to see my uncle and cousins and upon stepping inside their home being hit with the warming scent of saffron and rice. Then it was a tortuous waiting game until lunch was served.
If you’ve followed by blog for a while you’ll already know I’m half Iranian. Growing up Iranian food wasn’t a regular thing at home, so going to my uncle’s place where they’d expertly prepare it, was always a treat. At lunch the table was jammed packed with food. Usually the spread was two entrees like kabab and joojeh kabab, rice (duh!), relishes like torshi and radishes, tadig, yogurt, and salad. We’d spend a couple hours leisurely eating and catching up on each others lives.
Now as an adult I want those memories to live on through the food. Also, I was just really craving it 🙂 This recipe is not exactly how my family would make this meal. Their koobideh is typically made with beef, and they would serve this with rice as well. I thought I would lighten it up for summer by substituting chicken for beef and pita bread for rice.
Ingredients for the Koobideh:
- 2lbs ground chicken
- 1 large yellow onion grated
- 2 tbsp liquid saffron*
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium lime juiced
Ingredients for Salad:
- 1 large cucumber diced and core removed
- 1 small red onion diced
- 1 container of cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup parsley finely chopped
- 1 large lime juiced
- 1/2 tsp salt
Ingredients for yogurt dip:
- 1 pint greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 tsp sumac
Combine all the koobideh ingredients besides the lime juice and olive oil in a bowl. Mix until the ingredients are equally distributed. Cover, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. In a separate small bowl stir together the olive oil and lime juice, set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and mold the ground chicken into 1″ inch thick, 1″ inch wide, 5-6″ inch long pieces. Brush the lime juice and olive oil mixture onto the koobideh. If you have left over liquid saffron you can brush that on as well to give the chicken extra color. Be careful though since saffron can stain your brush bristles. Using a spoon press into koobideh pieces to make indentations. Bake for 20 minutes, remove and reapply the olive juice lime mixture, and bake on the other side for 18 minutes.
To really get that char look of a grill I sear the koobideh, indentation side down, in a cast iron skillet for a couple of minutes. This is optional, but really enhances the presentation and give a nice slight char taste- if you’re into that!
To make the cucumber salad and yogurt dip mix their respective ingredients until combined. Serve with warm pita or white basmati rice.
*Liquid saffron: a pinch of saffron strands soaked in 3 tbsp boiling water. Allow strands to soak for 10-15minutes.