Ren lived for many years in Glendale, CA where, apart from the large Filipino community, there was also a significant population of Armenians. Like Filipinos or any other sizable ethnic group residing in one locality, if there are plenty of Armenians, then you will also likely find plenty of Armenian restaurants.
Among all the Armenian dishes she’s tried in the past, this is her hands-down favorite. And who can blame her? The trio of charred chicken, fluffy aromatic rice pilaf and tangy, juicy grilled tomatoes is wonderful. There were Armenian food stalls, of which Ren was a loyal customer, that served just this dish. In terms of popularity, it’s the Armenian equivalent to Pinoy pork barbecue.
In homage to all those Armenian chicken and rice lunches-to-go, here’s Ren’s recipe for this refreshingly clean, flavorful and truly comforting dish.
Beautiful skewers of chicken, green peppers and onions waiting to be grilled.
Rice pilaf with egg noodles. It may seem weird to combine rice and noodles, but it makes for an interesting combination that works quite well.
Armenian Shish Kabob
- 1 kilo boneless chicken thighs, cut into cubes or chunks
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp apple cider or wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsps olive oil
- 2-3 Tbsps tomato paste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- Salt, to taste
- In ziplock bag, mix onion, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, tomato paste, cumin, allspice, chili powder and freshly ground black pepper first before adding chicken pieces. Mix again thoroughly, then cover and marinate in refrigerator overnight.
- Thread chicken cubes onto skewers, alternating meat cubes with onion and green pepper pieces if desired.
- Grill for 6-8 minutes, turning once until nicely charred. Don’t overcook.
- Sprinkle salt on cooked shish kabob. Serve with yellow rice pilaf (recipe below) and grilled tomatoes.
Armenian Yellow Rice Pilaf (with noodles)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups egg noodles or vermicelli
- 2 cups uncooked long grain rice
- 4 cups boiling hot chicken broth (seasoned with 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tsp salt, pepper to taste)
- Melt butter in heavy sauce pan. Break noodles into 2-3 inch pieces and add to pan. Cook while stirring often until golden brown.
- Add rice and stir until well coated.
- Carefully add boiling broth and cook covered over low heat for 25 minutes. Fluff with fork and let stand for few minutes.
The finished plate. Isn’t that gorgeous? If you were wondering what a vibrant dish looks like, this is it. You can’t get any more striking than this.
If you like some heat in your food, you can try drizzling the chicken with sriracha. It’ll add heat without changing the flavors too much.
DID YOU KNOW?
That kabob may have been invented due to the short supply of cooking fuel in the Near East? This scarcity made the cooking of large foods difficult, so butcher shops sold smaller cuts of meat instead. The word kabob is essentially Persian in origin and Arabic tradition has it that the dish was invented by medieval Arabic soldiers who used their swords to grill meat over open-field fires.