Joojeh Kabab ba Holu (Saffron Chicken Kababs With Peaches)

Joojeh Kabab ba Holu (Saffron Chicken Kababs With Peaches)

An Iranian barbecue would be incomplete without the dizzying scent of saffron chicken kababs on the grill. Saffron, the primary seasoning, is ground and then steeped in water to draw out its sweet scent, flavor and rich hue. This method is also the most economical use of the precious threads. Nothing goes to waste in this preparation; even the onion from the marinade is cooked to serve as an accompaniment. In this version, grilled peaches are plated alongside the traditional blistered tomatoes for a delightful tangy bite. An overnight marinade will guarantee the juiciest kababs, but don’t worry if you’re short on time; a couple of hours is sufficient. Serve with rice with tahdig and cucumber and herb yogurt, or with bread and herb salad for a light meal.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Using a mortar and pestle (or small bowl and the handle end of a wooden spoon), grind the saffron with the sugar to a fine powder (about 1/4 teaspoon). Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Step 2

    Bring 2 tablespoons water to a boil in a saucepan, kettle or using the microwave, then let stand for 2 minutes to allow the water temperature to drop slightly. Add to the ground saffron powder, gently stir, cover and steep for 5 minutes.
  3. Step 3

    To the saffron water, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper; carefully stir to mix. Add the chicken and onion to the marinade and combine until well coated. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours, turning the chicken pieces around in the marinade every once in a while.
  4. Step 4

    Prepare a charcoal grill until the coals are ashed over and still hot, or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Skewer the tomatoes and peaches separately and set aside. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and skewer them. It’s best to use flat, 1/2-inch-wide skewers or double skewers so the chicken pieces stay put when turned.
  5. Step 5

    Transfer the onion and any remaining marinade to a medium skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened and the skillet is nearly dry, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Step 6

    Meanwhile, grill the chicken, basting with the butter and turning every 2 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes on a charcoal grill and 15 to 18 minutes on a gas grill.
  7. Step 7

    Grill the tomatoes and peaches alongside the chicken: Grill the tomatoes, turning every 2 to 3 minutes, until softened and slightly blistered, 6 to 8 minutes on charcoal and about 10 minutes on a gas grill. Grill the peaches, turning every 2 to 3 minutes, until softened but not falling apart, about 10 minutes.
  8. Step 8

    If using lavash bread, drape on a serving platter. Place the chicken, tomatoes and peaches on the bread. (As the kababs sit, the bread soaks up the wonderful juices and becomes a highly sought-after bite.) Serve with the cooked onions, lime wedges for squeezing and sumac for sprinkling.