I love Iranian (Persian) food. To me, it is the ultimate comfort food. The smell of onions and garlic sautéing with turmeric is pretty much the smell of home. But it doesn’t exactly lend itself well to quick and easy dinners for a family of four. Persian food is more of a party food – big pots of khoreshts (stews) that have simmered for hours and could feed an army. There are a couple of dishes that I make in fairly frequent rotation though and some are easier than others. This is an easy one. I marinate the chicken the night or the morning before and it cooks quickly once I’m home. It goes really well in warm weather when you can cook the chicken on the grill, but it is equally fine in the winter, cooked under the broiler. And when served with basmati rice and roasted tomatoes and red onions, it is like a little taste of home.
1 large yellow onion, grated
1 cup lemon juice, plus the zest of one lemon
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water (I use a mortar and pestle to crush the saffron first then add the hot water – if you don’t have a mortar just use the back of a spoon in a coffee mug)
salt and pepper
4 large tomatoes, cut into 4 wedges each
2 large red onions, cut into large wedges
- Season the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper
- Place the onions, lemon juice and zest, and olive oil in a gallon size ziploc bag; add the chicken. Marinate for at least an hour.
- Skewer the chicken (alternately you can reverse this and skewer the chicken first, place it in a baking dish and pour the marinade over it but I prefer skewering after the marinade).
- Skewer the tomatoes and red onion. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Broil under high for approximately 10-15 minutes total, flipping once half way through. Keep an eye on the tomatoes to ensure they don’t burn.
- Serve with the tomatoes and onions on top of basmati rice.