"I haven't had a proper kebab in ages," says Grandmother Maria Dory in Episode 14 of The Dory Horde: City of Eight, just moments after her plane lands in Cairo — and with good reason! Few dishes can match the succulence of chicken marinated in spices and seared to perfection. Lucky for you, there's no need to travel beyond your local grocery store to get everything you need to make chicken kebabs for tonight's dinner. Before long, you'll be craving these tasty treats right along with Grandmother Dory!
How was I introduced to Chicken Kofta Kebab?
It wasn’t until our family grew that chicken kofta kebab was introduced to us. I’ve tried it at restaurants prior and always liked it, but my parents were skeptical until trying my sister-in-law’s mother’s chicken kofta kebab. It was spectacular, to say the least, and now my family always requests them, especially since they are leaner than the beef kofta we are accustomed to.
My sister-in-law is of Pakistani descent, and this dish is very common in South Asian cuisine. I am so happy I could learn this recipe from her lovely mom! I hope I did her version justice. Promise that this chicken kofta kebab is worth trying. You can prep the chicken mixture days ahead of time and cook it on the stovetop, making it so convenient.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Chill Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Servings: 12 kuftas
- 1 lb ground chicken
- ½ cup cornmeal (although you can substitute breadcrumbs if needed)
- 1 egg beaten
- salt & pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 jalapeno
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 4 garlic cloves
- handful of fresh cilantro
- 1 white onion, small
- Vegetable oil, for pan searing
In a food processor, blend the onion, cilantro, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno until fine. Drain the excess liquid from this mixture so it does not add too much moisture to the chicken kufta mixture.
Add this to the ground chicken along with all the seasonings, egg, and cormeal. Mix thoroughly.
Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to chill so it is easier to shape. You can even leave this for up to 4 days in the fridge before cooking.
Shape into kebabs which is like a thick sausage in appearance. It may be easier to lightly wet your hands while shaping.
In a hot pan with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, add just enough kebabs to not overcrowd the pan. This is dependent on the size of the pan you are using. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat on each side until you have a golden brown sear and fully cooked through.
Enjoy in a sandwich, on top of a salad, or with rice for a delicious meal!
How to cook the Chicken Kofta:
- Pan-sear: This is the method in which I share in the recipe. It is my preferred way of cooking the kofta. You can fit several in a pan and achieve a nice sear from the neutral oil I like. It also doesn’t take much time to cook.
- Air-Fry: This is a less hassle and messy way of cooking the chicken kofta without achieving much of the sear or slight oiliness from pan searing. You would air fry at 375 for about 12-15 minutes. Check for doneness and enjoy!
- Bake: You can also bake the chicken kofta, but this will take the most time and is probably the least convenient. I never baked them therefore can’t share the exact method, but it would be similar to air frying temperature-wise and possibly 5-10 minutes longer.
- Grilling: I imagine these would be great on the grill, and the flavor would be amazing, especially on a charcoal grill. However, the grill would need to be very clean and well-oiled so the kofta does not stick and fall apart as it is a looser mixture. I would refrigerate the kofta for a few hours before grilling so they are more firm.
Best way to enjoy this Chicken Kofta recipe:
I enjoy these kebabs wrapped with toum (garlic sauce) and fresh veggies like onions, cilantro, and pickled turnips. They are also fantastic to top off Arabic salad, Tahini Salad, or Fattoush for added protein or with a side of vermicelli rice.
About the Authors
Heifa Odeh is a Palestinian American recipe developer and the winner of Saveur Magazine’s 2019 Best Food Culture Blog. She created a popular online cooking course teaching classic Arab cuisine. Heifa is also the author of her own cookbook, Dine in Palestine. Heifa resides in Chicago, Illinois, with her family, where she is an active member of the community.
Ann is a writer, editor, homeschooling mother, voracious reader, full-fat baker, and musician. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters and chronicles the journey at Boyds’ Nest News.