Fragrant Chicken Kebabs with Safffron, Cardamom & Rosewater Rice

From Ainsley’s Fantastic Flavours, ITV

With floral notes of cardamom and saffron these mildly spiced Persian-inspired kebabs are easy to make and full of delicious aromatic flavour. A delicate hint of rose water in the saffron rice is complemented by the tangy roasted tomatoes on the side. It’s a pretty, summery looking dish with a comforting flavour – perfect to enjoy any time of the year. Delightful!


In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients for the marinade and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add the chicken and onion pieces and toss to coat. Cover and chill to marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the cardamon pods and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the rice and stir to coat in the butter. Add 450ml of water, the salt and saffron. Stir well. Bring to the boil, then simmer, covered with a tight-fitting lid, for 12-14 minutes or until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed. Take the rice off the heat and leave to rest for 5 minutes with the lid on. Sprinkle over ½ tsp rose water and fluff with a fork, adding a little more if needed. Season with a little salt if needed.

Thread the chicken and onion pieces on to flat skewers.

Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat. Drizzle the kebabs with oil and cook for 14-16 minutes until lightly charred and cooked through, turning occasionally. Brush the tomato halves with oil and season. Add to the pan cut side-up. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then turn to cook the other side for 2-3 minutes.

Garnish the rice with the toasted almonds, coriander and rose petals (if using) and serve alongside the kebabs, grilled tomatoes, and lemon wedges for squeezing.



  • 4 large chicken breasts (or 6-8 large thighs), skinless, boneless, cut into 3cm cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped into chunks
  • 225g basmati rice, well rinsed
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • pinch of saffron threads, soaked in 1 tbsp hot water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ - 1 tsp rose water (depending on strength of brand)
  • 2-4 large vine tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp toasted flaked almonds or pistachios, to serve
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • edible dried rose petals, to serve (optional)
  • lemon wedges, to serve
  • For the Marinade
  • 5 cardamom pods, pods removed, and seeds crushed
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • pinch of saffron threads, ground in a pestle and mortar, soaked in 1 tbsp of hot water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 120g Greek yoghurt
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper