Thursday, October 14, 2010

Around the World in 80 Dishes: Iran

After making some great jerk chicken, I had to decide where I would go next for my personal culinary challenge.  Generally, I have been using a random country generator to choose my next stop, keeping in mind the many suggestions that have been offered by friends.  (I intend to visit every country that you have recommended.)  When I consulted the generator after Jamaica, the country it selected was Iran.   

When you ask most people what they think of when they are asked about Iran, they will most likely provide a negative answer.  Some might mention Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and some of the rather crazy things he says.  Others may mention the Iranian nuclear weapons program.  And, still others may mention the hostage crisis back in 1979.  For me, if I were asked Iran, I would respond by saying Persian food.  I am a big fan of the cuisine, especially the various kabobs, such as Kubideh (ground meat), Chenjeh (lamb), and/or Jojeh (chicken).  For years, I would satisfy my cravings for Persian food by going to a local restaurant, Moby Dick, to get a Kubideh or Chenjeh kabob, along with a big plate of jasmine rice and freshly baked bread.


Well, with the next stop on my culinary journey being Iran, I decided that I would take this opportunity to make my own kabob.  Rather than making Kubideh or Chenjeh, which I would always order at Moby Dick, I decided to try making Kebab-e Jojeh, or chicken kabob.  For a side dish, I decided to make Salad-e Shirazi, a tomato cucumber salad.  And, for a beverage, I decided to make doogh, a yogurt drink with mint and black pepper. 

KEBAB-E JOJEH (Chicken Kabob)
Adapted from
Serves 4

1 pound of chicken (boneless chicken breasts)
1/2 cup of olive oil
A pinch of saffron threads
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon warm water.
1 tomato, quartered

1.  Marinate the chicken.  Cut the chicken breasts into one inch pieces.  Mix the chicken with the onion, saffron, oil, water, salt and pepper.  Let the chicken marinate for 24 hours.

2.  Grill the chicken.  Preheat the grill to medium high or 350 degrees.  Place the chicken on skewers.  Place the tomatoes on separate skewers.  Cook the chicken skewers for about 15 to 20 minutes, turning the skewers after about ten minutes. The chicken will be done when there is no pinkness and the juices are clear.  Remove the chicken from the skewers and serve with basmati rice.


Salad e-Shirazi is a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic and mint.  The salad is very easy to make and the fresh ingredients make this a delicious and healthy salad to compliment any kabob.

SALAD E-SHIRAZI (Tomato Cucumber Salad)
Adapted from
Serves 4

3 tomatoes
2 cucumbers
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons with lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Mix all of the ingredients well.


Finally, as a beverage, I decided to make doogh, a Persian drink of yogurt and mint.  There are several recipes for doogh on the Internet, and they vary slightly.  Some use dried mint while others use fresh mint.  Some use ground black pepper, while others do not.  I decided to use fresh mint and black pepper.

Serves 4

1 cup of yogurt
1 tablespoon of finely chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup of water

1.  Add the mint, salt, and black pepper to the yogurt.

2. Whisk water into the yogurt mixture gradually.

3.  Chill and serve.

*     *     *

In the end, this was a delicious meal and a very easy one to make.  I was able to recreate Kabob e Jojeh just like I remember it on the very rare occasions that I would order it at Moby Dick.  The Salad e-Shirazi was also very good.  Both the kabob and the salad also make great leftovers for lunch.  And, as for the doogh, I was never a big fan of the beverage; but, I wanted to try to make it to go with the meal.  It was very refreshing and went well with the meal. 

Given this experience, I am looking forward to trying to make other types of kabobs, such as Kabob e Chenjeh.  However, that will have to wait, because my culinary adventures (and the random country generator) have me traveling to another country. Until next time....



Lauren said...

Ohhh Moby Dick House of Kabob! I miss that. We don't have them up in PA :(

Next time you should try Polow! It's when you bake rice so that it forms this delicious golden crispy crust on the bottom of the pan.

Wandering Jen said...

I am surprised - that seems rather bland. Not sure if I thought they had spicy food but very interesting!

Keith Bolek said...

Lauren, I will definitely try Polow. It sounds really good.

JoJo said...

Can you PLEASE tell us how to cook the kubideh from Moby Dick's? It's so great I can't stand it!

Keith Bolek said...

I don't know how Moby Dick makes its kubideh, but I too love it. I'll look into that, it would make a great post.

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