Persian chicken kebabs with cauli rice and garlic sauce

Persian chicken kebabs with cauli rice and garlic sauce

If you never had Persian joojeh kebabs (or kebobs) before you are in for a real treat. These tender low-carb chicken skewers are easy and so flavorful. The marinade with saffron, lemon, garlic, and the secret ingredient – mayonnaise – makes all the difference. We know that Persian rice is world-famous but we have subbed it for a fragrant low-carb cauli rice instead.

Persian chicken kebabs with cauli rice and garlic sauce

If you never had Persian joojeh kebabs (or kebobs) before you are in for a real treat. These tender low-carb chicken skewers are easy and so flavorful. The marinade with saffron, lemon, garlic, and the secret ingredient – mayonnaise – makes all the difference. We know that Persian rice is world-famous but we have subbed it for a fragrant low-carb cauli rice instead.
USMetric
4 servingservings

Ingredients

Marinade and chicken
  • ¼ cup 60 ml olive oil
  • 3 tbsp 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 4 4 garlic clove, mincedgarlic cloves, minced
  • 2 2 lemon, juice and zestlemons, juice and zest
  • 1½ tsp 1½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup (18 oz.) 60 ml (4 g) finely chopped, fresh parsley
  • ¼ tsp ¼ tsp saffron
  • 1 (4 oz.) 1 (110 g) yellow onion, cut into small wedgesyellow onions, cut into small wedges
  • 1¾ lbs 800 g boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1.5" (4 cm) pieces
Skewers
  • 4 (1 lb) 4 (450 g) tomatotomatoes
  • 4 4 skewer (metal or wooden)skewers (metal or wooden)
Garlic sauce
  • ¾ cup 180 ml mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise
  • 5 oz. 140 g cucumber, finely chopped
  • 2 2 garlic clove, mincedgarlic cloves, minced
  • salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Saffron cauliflower rice
  • 2 tbsp 2 tbsp butter or ghee or coconut oil
  • 1½ lbs 650 g cauliflower, roughly chopped or cauliflower rice
  • ¾ cup 180 ml water
  • ¼ tsp ¼ tsp saffron
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp 2 tbsp dried barberries (zereshk) (optional)
Garnish
  • fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
  • dried barberries (zereshk) (optional)
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Instructions

Marinade and chicken

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Place the onion and chicken into a large glass bowl or a resealable plastic bag, and completely coat with the marinade. Cover or seal, and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes, or overnight for maximum flavor.
  2. Prepare the kebabs for the grill, or to be baked in the oven; use metal or wooden skewers, and thread the chicken and onions onto the skewers. Place the tomatoes on a separate skewer.
  3. Grill: Lightly grease the grates with oil, and preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Place the kebabs on the grates for 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, and brushing with the reserved marinade.

    Oven: Preheat at 400°F (200°C). Place the kebabs on a lightly oiled broiler pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes, turning every 5 minutes and brushing with reserved marinade. For extra browning, broil for 1-3 minutes. Kebabs will be done when the internal temperature reaches 160-165°F (71-74°C).
  4. Garlic sauce

  5. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, chopped cucumber, and minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  6. Saffron cauliflower rice

  7. Add the butter, ghee, or oil to a large frying pan, over medium-high heat. Stir in the cauliflower, water, saffron, salt, pepper, and optional barberries. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the cauliflower mixture is golden and tender, stirring occasionally.
  8. Serve the chicken with saffron cauliflower rice, tomatoes, and garlic sauce. Garnish with a sprinkle of parsley and optional barberries, for an extra splash of color and flavor!

Comment from the recipe creator

I've learned a lot of things from my dad, but one thing I will never forget is when he used to make his Persian chicken skewers. Everybody gathered around the "Sofreh", the traditional cloth spread on the table or floor, eating and just enjoying the food. I'm so happy that I can carry on his legacy and share it with you, the Diet Doctor family.

Saffron – the world's most expensive spice

It's important to use good quality saffron. There are several types of "faux saffron" on the market which are inexpensive, but flavorless. Real saffron is pricey, but you only need a little to add a lot of flavor and color.

To get the most flavor out of the saffron as possible, put the saffron threads in a spice mortar together with a pinch of salt. Grind with a pestle to a powdery consistency before adding it to the marinade and cauli rice.

A good tip is to store the saffron in the freezer to keep it fresh for longer.

Different cooking methods

Kebabs can be grilled on either a charcoal or gas grill and even in the oven. But charcoal will give the dish it's authentic flavor. To do so, start a bed of charcoal about 30 minutes before you want to grill and let it burn until the coals glow evenly.

A great tip is to use a hairdryer to speed up the process.

What are barberries?

Barberries are highly nutritious, tart berries, native to Iran, which have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. They contain berberine, which acts as an antioxidant and in research has been showing to be effective at lowering blood sugar.

Dried barberries are often used in Persian cooking. The taste is reminiscent of cranberries but less sweet. They can be found in the International section of some supermarkets or in specialty shops, but are very easy to buy online.

Serving suggestions

This dish tastes great combined with the acidity from pickled vegetables, such as pickled beans, radishes, cabbage, or carrots.

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💬 Have you tried this recipe?

What did you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

9 comments

  1. Andrea
    Great meal! Delicious flavor! Buying roma sized tomatoes make sense here for skewer size
    Reply: #2
  2. Crystal Pullen Team Diet Doctor

    Great meal! Delicious flavor! Buying roma sized tomatoes make sense here for skewer size

    Thanks for your tips, Andrea! I am glad you enjoyed this meal.

  3. Lori
    Made this for the first time and it was delicious! I marinated mine overnight in the fridge. The chicken was so moist and tender. I couldn't find barberries, but I did find Saffron. Even my non-keto boys and hubby loved it! It's definitely a keeper and going in my rotation. Thank you for the great recipe!
  4. Trudi
    Hello, would someone be able to tell me why some of the net carbs are in a solid yellow dot and others are green please? I have obviously missed something! lol. Thanks in advance.
    Reply: #5
  5. Crystal Pullen Team Diet Doctor

    Hello, would someone be able to tell me why some of the net carbs are in a solid yellow dot and others are green please? I have obviously missed something! lol. Thanks in advance.

    Green dots note keto recipes, yellow notes moderate low carb, and orange notes liberal low carb. https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/recipes/faq

  6. Trudi
    Thank you!!
  7. Ann Whitfield
    Absolutely delicious meal that’s going to be a regular in our house! I managed to get my hands on some barberries too and we did like the addition of those. While I can see that it would be fine without, I do think the ‘rice’ was better with.
    Reply: #8
  8. Crystal Pullen Team Diet Doctor

    Absolutely delicious meal that’s going to be a regular in our house! I managed to get my hands on some barberries too and we did like the addition of those. While I can see that it would be fine without, I do think the ‘rice’ was better with.

    Lovely! Thank you for sharing your experience!

  9. Marisol
    Any suggestions for using frozen riced cauliflower? I was thinking perhaps microwave cauliflower only enough to thaw and bring to room temperature and then squeeze out extra water? Then cook the same as instructions but perhaps not add the water?

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