Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Advieh-e Khoresh Spiced Chicken Kebabs

If there is one thing that amazes me about cooking, it is spice mixes.  I have made many recipes with different spice mixes that are as varied as the countries from which they originate.  Hawayil from Yemen.  Baharat from Egypt. Bzaar from Libya. Berbere from Ethiopia.  Creole spice from Louisiana.   Those are just some of the many spice mixes that I have made over the years.  

What is so intriguing about spice mixes is how they can represent a culture and its cuisine.    For example, there is Advieh.  It is a spice blend that is used primarily in Persian cuisine.  The mix traditionally consists of cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cardamom and cumin.  It also contains a unique ingredient that I have not seen in a spice mix before ... dried rose petals.  That is definitely an ingredient that I have never worked with before.  (And, as explained below, I still have never worked with.)

Advieh is used by Persian cooks in a wide range of dishes, from rice dishes to chicken and bean dishes.  There are two traditional types of Advieh: (1) Advieh-e polo, which is sprinkled over a rice dish after the rice is cooked; and (2) Advieh-e Khoresh, which is a spice rub that is used for grilled or roasted meats.  I decided that I would make Advieh-e Khoresh and use it in a quintessential Persian dish ... chicken kebabs. 

Advieh represents what is great about spice mixes.  It is used in dishes from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea; and, across that expanse, there are an endless variety of Advieh mixtures.  The mixtures contain all or most of the traditional ingredients listed above, but some may include cloves, turmeric, ginger, coriander, saffron, black pepper and/or mace.  The variations mean that you can make the mix several times and have a different result, with each result being as intriguing and tasty as the last one.

One final note.  The unique characteristic of Advieh is the use of dried rose petals.  That is not a very common ingredient in western stores.  If you can find a Mediterranean market, you might be able to obtain those petals.  I was not so fortunate.  Still, I wanted to make the recipe; so, I decided that I would make a substitution.  Rose water for rose petals.  I added a few drops of rose water (the stuff is pretty potent) in the oil when I prepared the marinade for the kebabs.  While I don't think it is the same as using rose petals, I think it is an acceptable effort to recreate the final result ... which was very delicious. 

Spice Mix recipe from The Clothes Make the Girl
Serves 4

Ingredients (for the spice mix):
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground rose petals
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Ingredients (for the kebabs):
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into even size pieces
3/4 cup of olive oil

1.  Make the spice mix.  Combine the cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cardamom, rose petals (if you have them) and ground cumin.  Blend well with a fork or a spoon.

2.  Marinate the chicken.  Place the chicken in a storage bag.  Add the oil (and the drops of rose water, if you are using it as a substitute for rose petals).  Add the spice mix gradually, mixing it into the chicken and the olive oil.  Continue until all of the spice mix has been added to the storage bag.  Close the bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.

3.  Prepare the kebabs.  Soak the skewers for at least an hour (this is not really necessary).  Skewer the chicken pieces, making sure each skewer has the same amount of chicken on it.

4.  Grill the kebabs.  Heat a grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Oil the grates and place the kebabs on the grill.  Grill for about seven to ten minutes on each side total, but rotate and turn the kebabs occasionally.  Remove from the heat and let rest for five minutes.

When you serve the kebabs, it is best to serve them with rice and a side, like Salad-e Shirazi, which is what I did for this meal. 


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