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Harissa and Lime Chicken Kebabs

Chicken kebabs marinated in harissa & lime

Simple yet delicious, this marinade for chicken can be used whether you are cooking on the BBQ, roasting in the oven, under the grill, on a griddle, in an air fryer or just frying the chunks of chicken in a pan. Either way the result is a powerhouse of flavour with very little effort required.

One of my favorite ways to eat this chicken is an element to a salad bowl (kind of like a Buddha Bowl) with the fragrant and smokey flavors from North Africa and the Middle-East, as pictured below. But it can be eaten with anything or any way you want, whether you want to eat it as a kebab roll with the chicken wrapped in some flatbread with salad, pickles and some garlic and / or chili sauce alongside some chips; or with some rice or Tabouleh or other healthy grain based salad.

The ingredients are simple – chicken breasts, harissa paste (any variety – I use Rose Harissa by Belazu but apricot or just the plain one is absolutely fine); crushed garlic, dried za’atar leaves or oregano and fresh lime juice. Leave the chicken to marinate for a minimum of 4 hours but for best results overnight and you will not be disappointed.

For those of you who may not be familiar with za’atar, it is a herb grown in some Middle-Eastern countries, like Lebanon, with a flavour like a cross between thyme and oregano. It is also the name for a spice and herb mixture used like a condiment.

Harissa originates from North Africa. While every region has its own variation and take on the paste, it’s particularly associated with Tunisia. It is a hot chilli pepper paste, the main ingredients of which are roasted red peppers, Baklouti peppers, spices and herbs such as garlic paste, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, cumin and olive oil. Rose harissa contains dried rose petals, and, usually, rosewater too. This softens the heat and adds a subtle floral note to the dishes it is added to. The use of yoghurt in the marinade also tempers the heat a little further making this a recipe that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Using a shop bought paste like this really helps to reduce thinking and preparing time so I welcome these shortcuts. A little addition of extras like lime, garlic and yogurt make it more personal.

On a side note – I am slowly putting together recipes for all the other elements of the pictures as they are all too delicious not to share with you so please watch this space!

 

See my how to reel on instagram via the link below…

 


Harissa & Lime Chicken Kebabs

Chicken kebabs marinated in harissa & lime
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Cross-cultural
Keyword: chicken, kebabs, harissa
Servings: 4 (to 6)
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 1.2 kg chicken breasts (about 4 to 5 large chicken breasts)
  • 4 tbsp harissa paste (I use Belazu Rose Harissa)
  • 4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 4 cloves garlic (crushed or minced)
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 2 tsp dried za'atar leaves or oregano
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 to 2 tbsp butter and / or olive oil (Melted - to baste the chicken while cooking)

Instructions

  • Chop your chicken into chunks (fairly large as they will shrink when cooking). Put the chicken pieces into a bowl and then add all the ingredients except the butter and massage into the chicken until all the marinade is mixed in and evenly distributed amongst the chicken pieces. It will be a bright red / orange colour.
  • Cover and leave in the fridge for the flavours to develop for a minimum of 4 hrs but best left overnight. Take the chicken out of the fridge about 30 mins before you want to cook to bring up to room temperature.
  • When you are ready to cook the chicken (either on your bbq or under the grill on the highest setting), divide the chicken on to about 4 / 6 skewers and cook, basting with the butter and / or olive oil and turning the skewers until the chicken is a little charred. It takes roughly 15 to 25 minutes on a bbq or grill (depending on how hot your bbq / grill is).
  • Serve alongside chips, rice or lavash bread / flatbread, salad, mezze-style dishes including hummus and yoghurt dips.

 

 

Advieh Kabab

Grilled Beef Kebabs with Persian Spices

This is a recipe inspired by Persian flavours and one I developed by throwing various things together as a marinade for some cubed rump steak. With echoes of the Levantine shawarma, by using the Persian mixed spice advieh (a mix of nutmeg, rose petals, cardamom, cumin, black pepper, coriander, cinnamon), this kabab will not disappoint. You can use lamb or chicken as an alternative and you can cook it under your grill as opposed to on a BBQ.

The marinade combines yoghurt, garlic, olive oil, onion, lime juice, advieh, saffron, turmeric, sumac and chilli sauce. The meat is marinated for a minimum of 12 hrs to let the flavours fully intensify and be absorbed into the meat. You can get your hands on saffron from most supermarkets and advieh can be bought from most Middle-Eastern food shops – I buy mine online from Freshly Spiced on  Etsy.

I serve this kabab as pictured with flatbreads filled with the meat; lettuce; chopped tomatoes with Thai basil; chopped onion and parsley; pickled chillies; bbq/grilled peppers; and a dollop of Greek yoghurt mixed with dried mint, Aleppo pepper, garlic, a squeeze of lime and a little sea salt. On the side we have home-made fried chips and bbq corn-on-the-cob with a butter, chilli and chive drizzle.


Advieh Kabab

Grilled Beef Kebabs with Persian Spices
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
(Marinating Time)12 hours
Total Time12 hours 35 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian, Middle-Eastern
Keyword: kebabs, advieh, bbq
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 1 - 1.2 kg cubed lamb or beef (I've used beef rump steak)

Marinade

  • 1 large brown onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 50 ml of water)
  • 2 tbsp advieh
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp chilli sauce ( I use habanero)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

To baste while cooking

  • 2 tbsp butter (melted)

Instructions

  • Place the beef (or any other cubed meat you fancy) into a large bowl or tupperware box.
  • Place all the ingredients for the marinade in a blender and blitz until all the onion and garlic is blended. Pour over the meat and rub in until evenly coated. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for a minimum of 12 hrs.
  • Remove the meat from the fridge about 30 mins before cooking to bring to room temperature.
  • Divide the meat on to about 4 skewers and cook on your BBQ or under your grill (on the highest setting). Baste with the melted butter, turning the skewers until the meat is a little charred. It takes roughly 15 to 25 minutes on a bbq (depending on how hot your bbq is).
  • For serving inspiration either serve alongside rice and grilled tomatoes or with flatbreads; lettuce; chopped tomatoes with Thai basil; chopped onion and parsley; pickled chillies; bbq/grilled peppers; Greek yoghurt mixed with dried mint, Aleppo pepper, garlic and a little sea salt; chips; and bbq corn with a butter, chilli and chive drizzle.

Kabab Tabei (Pan-Cooked Kofte Kebabs with Roasted Tomatoes)

These Persian kofte kebabs can be cooked anytime of the year with no need for a BBQ or skewers. They are easy to make and retain all the juiciness you expect from a kebab.

What is Kabab Tabei?

If you have eaten at a Persian restaurant, then you will be familiar with Kabab Koobideh. The long metal skewers of minced lamb cooked to juicy perfection over a charcoal flame. Kabab Tabei is the easy version, cooked in a pan with no skewers required, and accompanied with a side of roasted tomatoes.

Ingredients in Kabab Tabei

With the exception of saffron, the ingredients should be easy to source from your local supermarket. 

  • Minced Lamb or Beef – use mince with a 20% fat content to make the kebabs. This will ensure they are juicy.
  • Onion and Garlic – fresh aromatics for the dish adding to the flavour of the kebabs.
  • Turmeric and Saffron – spices used to flavour the kebabs.
  • Tomato Purée  – my secret ingredient which creates a juicy kebab.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – used to cook the kebabs and to drizzle over the tomatoes before roasting.
  • Tomatoes – for the accompanying roasted tomatoes. Use small tomatoes on the vine like these.
  • Sumac, Salt and Pepper – used to season the kebabs.

Saffron can be found in most supermarkets nowadays. Remember to always grind the saffron strands to a fine powder after purchase because it makes the saffron go further. Bloom the amount of ground saffron directed in this recipe in water before adding to the Kabab Tabei mixture.

What to Serve with Kabab Tabei

Serve with Kateh or Chelo (Persian rice) and Salad Shirazi as pictured. They can also be eaten with flatbreads, salad, chilli and garlic sauce with a side of chips as part of a fake-away style meal!


Kabab Tabei Instagram Reel


Kabab Tabei

Pan-cooked kofte kebabs with roasted tomatoes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: lamb, kebabs, easy recipe
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 500 g lamb or beef mince (approx. 20% fat)
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tbsp of water)
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 500 g small or cherry tomatoes (on the vine)
  • Drizzle of olive oil (for the cherry tomatoes)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Place mince in a mixing bowl. Grate onion and squeeze most of the juice out. This will ensure the kebab does not fall apart when cooking but will tenderise the meat and be juicy once cooked.
  • Add grated onion, garlic, turmeric, saffron water, tomato purée, salt and pepper to the bowl with mince. Knead mixture well for a few minutes. Cover bowl and leave in fridge for no less than 4 hrs but preferably overnight. Take meat mixture out of fridge about 30 minutes before you want to cook it.
  • Heat oven to 180°C (fan oven). Place tomatoes on a baking dish and drizzle olive oil over them. Season with salt and pepper. Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  • Shape meat mixture into patties of your choice. I shape them into an oval shape about the length and width of my hand (they will shrink a little while cooking).
  • Coat frying pan with oil and place over medium-high heat. After 2 minutes, place kebabs in pan. Sprinkle some sumac on the uncooked side and wait until the meat releases water and the water dries out in the pan before flipping. Sprinkle sumac on the cooked side. Wait until kebabs release further water and it is cooked off. Turn off heat.
  • Serve kebabs with the roasted tomatoes and rice or bread.

Notes

If you like your kababs spicy then try my Kabab Tabei-Tond (‘Tond’ means spicy in Farsi). Follow the recipe and method as set out above but at step 3 replace the tomato purée with 1 tsp of Harissa paste or 1 tsp of biber salcasi (Turkish spicy tomato paste), which you can buy from any local supermarket, and 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander.