Middle Eastern Chicken Kabobs and Yellow Rice

Good weather days are far and few around here.  Even in the summer it seems like we’re plagued by either scorching heat waves or severe thunderstorms.  When that perfect day does arrive, there’s nothing better than savoring a meal al fresco with some friends.  The fresh air heightens one's senses and brings out the flavor in food.  With good company, laughter and conversation can lingers well into the night.  So light some candles and savor the moments.  Today I’m sharing a delicious chicken kabob recipe I recently served on the patio to a group of friends.  I am also including a roasted red pepper sauce which pairs nicely with the chicken and my favorite yellow rice.

2 – 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into pieces
1 cup yogurt
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp crushed pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Lemon zest of 1 lemon

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, except the chicken, to make the marinade.  Add the chicken and coat well.  Cover and refrigerate for about 5 hours.  Place chicken on skewers and grill until cooked through.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

2 red bell peppers
1 ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot, chopped
2 – 4 Tbsp. broth, stock or water
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Roast peppers on a baking tray at 400 F for about 30 – 45 minutes, or until skin is charred.  Remove peppers from oven and place in a covered contained to sweat, which helps to remove the skin.  When cooled, peel off the skin and discard along with the seeds and membranes.  Chop roughly.  Heat the olive oil on low and gently sauté the shallot and garlic for a few minutes.  Place these, along with remaining ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.  Adjust thickness of sauce to desired consistency by adding broth, stock or water as needed.  Season to taste.  Serve alongside chicken kabobs as dipping sauce.

Yellow Rice

¾ tsp turmeric, ground
¼ tsp cumin, ground
Pinch of cinnamon, ground
Pinch of coriander, ground
1 Tbsp. butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
2 cups broth and/or water
1 ½ cups basmati rice, washed until water runs clear

In a medium pot heat the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and coriander for about one minute.  Add the butter, allow it to melt, and add the garlic.  Cook for about one minute.  Pour in the broth and/or water, add the bay leaf and cloves, and bring to boil.  Add the rice, stir once and cover.  Cook for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand covered for about 10 minutes.  Fluff with fork, and remove the bay leaf and cloves before serving.

Happy Summer