A Bright and Cheerful Feast: Turmeric-Yogurt Marinated Chicken with Saffron Jasmine Rice

Spring is in the air when I made this dish…or in my mind at least. Not only are the colors insanely vibrant, but so are the flavors.
Essences of chili peppers and smoky turmeric meld with creamy yogurt to create an amazing marinade for your favorite main dish. Grilled Meyer lemons pumps up it’s own juices and mellows out the fruits tartness. Squeeze the grilled juice over the chicken for the perfect bite.
And of course since I didn’t feel yellow and cheery enough, I decided to make the perfect accompaniment – Saffron infused jasmine rice…Fancy, huh?
This was my first time working with both turmeric and saffron- and a successful first time too, thank goodness. The turmeric created a gorgeous deep yellow color that stained the chicken and looked magnificent grilled. The flavor was smokey and bright and paired perfectly with the cumin I added as well.
The saffron was a treat and something I found when I recently re-organized our kitchen cupboards. Score!
Turmeric and Yogurt Marinated Chicken: Adapted from here
1 Serrano chile, with or without seeds chopped
1 Anaheim chile, with or without seeds, chopped
1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1in chunks
Bunch of parsley, chopped
1/2 c Plain, Greek yogurt (low-fat or NF) 
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Good drizzle of olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Meyer lemons, halved for grilling
1) Cut chicken in cube sized pieces that will fit in skewers. If using wood skewers, make sure to soak them before grilling so they don’t burn.
2) In a small food processor or blender, add in all the marinading ingredients (except the chicken of course and the grilling lemons). Blend until it forms a very smooth consistency. If it’s too thick, add a little more olive oil and/or lemon juice.
3) Pour yogurt marinate over chicken pieces and let sit for about 30 minutes. You can do this while you prepare the rice.
4) When ready, skewer the chicken and grill for about 5-8 minutes, or until chicken is done.
  5) Grill Meyer lemons reserving 1 for your plate and squeezing juice from another over chicken as it cooks.
Now for the Saffron Rice:
I have never worked with saffron before, so I wanted to make sure I was doing this correctly. Thankfully, Tori had a great tutorial and perfect Saffron rice recipe that was easy to do and follow. Plus it was Sephardic, perfect!
Saffron Infused Jasmine Rice: courtesy of The Shiksa
1 c jasmine rice
2 c low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 onion, chopped
2 good pinch of Saffron threads
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for drizzling
1) Using a spice mortar, take a good pinch of saffron threads and grind them up until it breaks down and is a powdery consistency.
Then add another pinch of saffron, but don’t crush.
Pour 1/4 c of warm water over saffron and let steep for a few minutes.
2) In another pot, sautee your chopped onion in olive oil until it begins to carmelize.
3) Add jasmine rice to pot and satuee with onion for another minute.
4) Add saffron mixture and stir well, making sure everything is incorportated well. Season with salt and pepper.
(Sorry, forgot a pic of this step!)
5) Add chicken or vegetable stock and bring rice to a boil, then lower to a simmer until rice is done and no fluid is in pot. About 45 minutes.
6) When rice is done, fluff with a fork.
And finally…bring it all together.
Isn’t this just gorgeous?!


  1. mona says

    Holy crap! This chicken recipe was DEELISH!!! I used whole chicken pieces, instead of kebabs. Adapted beautifully. Next time I will try marinating for a few hours. I love the marinade flavor. So good!
    Definitely going into the archives.
    Thanks for sharing.

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