These Armenian Chicken Kebabs with Cranberry-Saffron Rice & Mint Cucumber Yogurt will whisk you to a land of delicious enchantment. This 3 recipes in 1 post gives you a filling and balanced meal that is easy enough to throw together on a weeknight. Great for adults and kids alike, with a rich flavor, it will allure poultry lovers near and far to your table.
How Do They Taste?
This is some darn good chicken! I’ve dialed in this recipe over the past few weeks, making it an astounding 4 separate times, and oddly enough, I still want more. If you knew me, you’d know my grudge against repetition (and most leftovers), so all the credit goes to the amazing flavor in these kabobs. This chicken is mildly sweet, savory, and might I say, robust? With the main spice being paprika (regular and smoked), there is a wonderful earthy undertone supported by the vibrance of mint, parsley, and coriander.
Wanna Know More About Kebabs?
Kebabs have a long and storied history. While the earliest humans either boiled or wrapped and buried their meat with hot coals, cooking with sticks soon followed. Hunter gatherers in modern day South Africa (and I’m sure elsewhere in the world) would spear their prey and roast it over an open fire pit. Taking a giant leap through history to the Mongol Empire, Genghis Khan and his men would roast large slabs of meat on their swords, leading to what we now call a kebab! Khan, having some ancestral relations, plus trade/strife relations with the Ottoman Empire led to many flavors and spices of the East being a staple in much of modern Middle Eastern cuisine.
How Do I Cook Them?
With the history lesson over, let’s get to the good stuff. As a responsible dad/husband/grill-master, I followed the strict protocols of grill ownership;
- Buy two spare propane tanks
- Fill them all
- Use them one by one until the final one runs out in the midst of cooking…
Yeah, we’ve all done it, and it’s the biggest pain in the rear…but how to cook my chicken? I went with the next best option, my airfryer! (In a REAL bind, I bet my blow torch would’ve worked too). It turns out that my Armenian Chicken Kebabs cook wonderfully in the air-fryer. They even get a slight char! So the moral of the story is it’s perfectly acceptable to be lackadaisical and let your propane run dry…you may even find a new (and possibly better) way to cook.
Wasn’t There More Than Just Chicken?
YESSSS. The rice! Rice is a staple for a large majority of Armenian and Middle Eastern dishes. Rice can be cooked in a huge variety of manners, and I wanted something to compliment the flavors of my kebabs. This Cranberry Saffron Basmati Rice hits the spot. I cook it in a 50:50 chicken broth and water mixture with saffron, turmeric, and lemon zest to bring out a refreshing mild flavor. The additional dried cranberries and parsley are tossed in after the heat is off allowing them steam as the rice cools. This method of steaming the cranberries keeps them intact with their full zesty flavor (and no mushiness). Need a little crunch? Add some pine nuts. I didn’t have any on hand, but they were missed.
Why Mint Cucumber Yogurt?
Every good chicken and rice dish needs some accompaniments and we’ve paired ours with a Mint Cucumber Yogurt to mellow out the flavor, some pickled red onions, and Zhoug! “Zhoug? What in the world is Zhoug?” you might ask. It’s a Middle Eastern herby, slightly spicy, slightly garlicky, slightly sweet, and delicious-on-everything condiment! We take no credit for the recipe, this is directly from my Aunt’s website, Cafe Sucre Farine-Zhoug.
Tips and Tricks for Armenian Chicken Kebabs with Cranberry-Saffron Rice & Mint Cucumber Yogurt
- Whenever I use the spice turmeric, I always use a glass mixing bowl. Turmeric is very bright and vibrant, but loves to stain any type of plastic container.
- When making the Armenian Spice, double or triple the recipe. It stays good for 6 months, and having it on hand cuts the time down on the entire dish significantly.
- *Zhoug is a Middle Eastern herby, slightly spicy, slightly garlicky, slightly sweet, and delicious-on-everything condiment! We take no credit for the recipe, this is directly from my Aunt’s website, Cafe Sucre Farine-Zhoug. You can also purchase some here or in any Middle Eastern grocery store. The recipe for pickled red onions comes from her website too.
- Leftover Armenian chicken would be excellent in a wrap with some cucumbers, mint, parsley and tzatziki sauce.
- Smoked Paprika has a unique and separate flavor from regular sweet paprika. It’s has deep and rich undertones and adds a smoky flavor, without being overpowering. Don’t skip on the smoked paprika!