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Turkish Kebabs Loaded on Cutting Board

Turkish Chicken Kebabs with Cranberry-Saffron Rice & Mint Cucumber Yogurt

These Turkish 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.

Turkish Kebabs Loaded on Cutting Board

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 Turkish cuisine.

Entire Plate on Turkish Kebab with Saffron-Cranberry Rice & Cucumber0Mint Yogurt

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;

  1. Buy two spare propane tanks
  2. Fill them all
  3. 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 Turkish 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.

Cranberry-Saffron Basmati Rice

Wasn’t There More Than Just Chicken?

YESSSS. The rice! Rice is a staple for a large majority of Turkish 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.

Zhoug (Green Sauce), Mint-Cucumber Yogurt and Pickled Red Onions
Zhoug (Green Sauce), Mint-Cucumber Yogurt and Pickled Red Onions

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 Turkish 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 Turkish 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 Turkish 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!

If You Like This Recipe, You May Also Like

Turkish Chicken Kebabs with Cranberry-Saffron Rice & Mint Cucumber Yogurt

5 from 1 vote
Course: DinnerCuisine: Turkish, Middle Eastern
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Servings

6

Kebabs
Prep time

45

minutes
Cooking time

25

minutes

These Turkish 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.

Ingredients

  • Turkish Spice Blend
    Makes 1 Cup
  • 2 Tbsp Paprika

  • 1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika

  • 1+1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

  • 2+1/2 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt

  • 1+1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder

  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper

  • 1 tsp Cumin

  • 1+1/2 tsp Onion Powder

  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

  • 1+1/2 tsp Ground Coriander

  • 2 Tbsp Dried Parsley

  • 1/2 Cup Granulated White Sugar

  • Turkish Chicken Kebab Recipe
  • 3+1/2 Lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs (Cubed in 2 inch pieces)

  • 1+1/4 Cup Red Onion, Roughly Sliced

  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil

  • 2+1/2 Tbsp Honey

  • 1/2 Cup Turkish Spice Blend (from above)

  • 1 tsp Lemon Zest

  • 1/3 Cup Lemon Juice

  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Mint, Roughly Chopped

  • 6 Skewers Bamboo Kebab Skewers (Soak for an hour in water)

  • Saffron Cranberry Basmati Rice
  • 2 Tbsp Butter

  • 1/3 Cup Vidalia Onion, Finely Chopped

  • 1+1/2 Cups Chicken Broth

  • 1+1/2 Cups Cups Water

  • 1/8 tsp Turmeric Powder

  • 1/2 tsp Saffron Threads

  • 1+1/2 Cups Basmati Rice

  • 1 tsp Lemon Zest

  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt

  • 1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries, Roughly Chopped

  • 2 Tbsp Parsley, Chopped

  • 1/3 Cup Roasted Pine Nuts (Optional)

  • Cucumber Mint Yogurt
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk Greek Yogurt

  • 3/4 Cup Finely Diced Cucumbers (Preferably Persian Cucumbers)

  • 1 tsp Fresh Ground Ginger

  • 2 Tbsp Red Onion, Finely Chopped

  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Mint, Finely Chopped

  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt

  • 2 tsp Granulated Sugar

  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander

  • 1 tsp Lemon Zest (Optional)

  • Optional Extra Toppings
  • Pickled Red Onion *See Tips and Tricks

  • Zhoug *See Tips and Tricks

Directions

  • Turkish Spice Blend
  • Mix all ingredients together in large bowl.
  • Pour into airtight container and save for up to 6 months.
  • Turkish Chicken Kebabs
  • Cut chicken into large 2 inch cubes.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients (Turkish spice blend, olive oil, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice and mint), except for the chicken and onions.
  • Mix until thoroughly distributed.
  • Add chicken and onion.
  • Seal the bowl and let it marinade for 2 hours + in the fridge. This is a great time to soak your skewers.
  • Turn grill on and heat to 450-500 degrees. Skewer chicken and onions evenly on the 6 kebab skewers.
  • In a preheated grill, grill on high for approximately 10 minutes, rotating after 5 minutes. With a meat thermometer, ensure chicken reaches an internal temperature of about 170 degrees (chicken thighs need slightly more temp than chicken breasts).
  • If using an air-fryer instead of a grill, cook at 400F for approximately 25 minutes, rotate the kebabs as the chicken starts to slightly char (around 12 minutes). With a meat thermometer, ensure chicken reaches an internal temperature of about 170 degrees (chicken thighs need slightly more temp than chicken breasts).
  • Slather chicken kebabs with the leftover marinade while rotating.
  • Let the kebabs cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Eat and Enjoy!
  • Cranberry Saffron Basmati Rice
  • In a medium pot, add the butter and onions cooking on a medium heat.
  • Once the onions soften, add the water, chicken broth, saffron and turmeric.
  • Once the liquid reaches a rolling boil, add the rice and salt.
  • Mix occasionally until the liquid is back at a rolling boil.
  • Turn the heat to medium-low and cover.
  • Stir in the lemon zest as the liquid is about even with the rice.
  • Once the liquid has been fully absorbed, add the cranberries and parsley.
  • Cover the rice with a lid to let the cranberries steam as the rice cools (about 10 minutes). Gently fold until everything is combined.
  • Cucumber Mint Yogurt
  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it.

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2 Comments

  1. Douglas Ervin

    The cucumber mint yogurt does not include cucumbers in the ingredient list.

    • Douglas,
      Thank you for the catch! I corrected the ingredient list, somehow I missed the cucumbers when copying and pasting it from my recipe draft! And thank you for visiting our site!

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