Middle Eastern Chicken Skewers with Spiced Rice

Summers for me are all about BBQ parties. Dad has always been the master of the grill and being close to my dad, I always stayed by his side as a kid. Growing up, I must say the best times I had were at my grandparents’ house. I used to stand next to dad during the long hot summer days preparing food for over 20 people. I vividly remember the smells, the heat, the laughter. The whole thing would start early Friday morning, when dad would go to buy the meat. Of course, I always accompanied him. We would then spend hours in the kitchen preparing the meat, salads and all there is to accompany grilled meat.

Today, I still get as excited when we fire up the grill and dad always insists that he is doing it for me. Those are truly my favorite times. Listening to the music, hanging around the BBQ and telling dad how I would like him to cook my food.

I wanted to create a BBQ series this summer because it is totally my thing. However, we had very few BBQs this year that I was demotivated. To be honest, COVID and everything going on in the region has been demotivating me to do a lot of things.

Still though, a few weeks back we got to enjoy this insanely good chicken with rice, and I thought I must share it with you. Many of the recipes I create have a quite a few ingredients, but I promise it is so worth it. We serve this chicken and rice when we have people over and it is always a crowd pleaser. Now, some might wonder why we have rice when we are grilling. I would say it is an Arab thing. Many people, including my husband, consider a meal full only when there is rice to accompany it. This rice dish, however, is by no means a side dish, it is a star and you can eat it on its own with yoghurt or a salad. It is that good.

chicken on skewers

Let’s get cooking!

The chicken

For the chicken, I usually use boneless chicken breast, but boneless thighs work perfectly here, so go with whatever you prefer. Also make sure to keep the size of chicken pieces even. This helps in even cooking and prevents some of the chicken pieces to dry while others haven’t cooked through.

While threading the chicken and vegetables, don’t squash the chicken and vegetables. Try to leave a tiny space to ensure airflow and even cooking.

Let chicken rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before you start grilling. This will help to ensure the chicken is moist and tender.

Use your favorite vegetables or leave them altogether if you want to. I usually add onions, bell pepper and mushroom.

If using wooden skewers, soak in water for a couple of hours before threading so that they do not burn while grilling.

Though this recipe is made for grilling on the BBQ, it works just as fine on a griddle pan or in the oven.

The rice

Rinse the rice for a few times and soak it for 30 minutes before cooking. This helps having fully cooked long grains.

The below listed spices are what I usually use, but feel free to play around with flavors until you find your favorite flavor combination.

For 2 cups of Basmati rice, I add 4 cups of boiling water. However, having cooked endless pots of rice over the years, I know that the amount of water needed would depend on the size of the pot, the heat of the stove, whether you use boiling water or water at room temperature, and the type of the rice. So, if you usually use a different amount of water, stick to what works best for you.

Middle Eastern Chicken Skewers with Spiced Rice

Tender pieces of marinated chicken that are cooked on the BBQ and served with perfect spiced rice. Comfort in a dish!
Course Main Course
Cuisine middle eastern


Chicken skewers

  • 1 kg boneless skinless chicken cut into cubes


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste

Vegetables (optional)

  • onions
  • red bell pepper
  • red green pepper
  • mushrooms

Spiced Rice

  • 2 cups Basmati rice soaked for 30 minutes
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 to mato chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ green chili chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 green cardamoms
  • 5 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Water as needed, see note above


Chicken Skewers

  • In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients under marinade. Marinate chicken for at least a few hours or preferably overnight.
  • Soak the skewers if using wooden skewers. Thread the chicken onto the skewers alternating with the vegetables if using.
  • Grill the chicken skewers until golden and cooked through. This usually takes 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the chicken.

Spiced Rice

  • Rinse the rice and soak it for 30 minutes. Drain well.
  • In a pot, heat oil, then add the chopped onions. Cook until translucent.
  • Add garlic and green chili and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.
  • Add, cinnamon stick, cardamoms, peppercorns, and bay leaf and continue to stir for an additional minute.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, turmeric, cumin powder, black pepper and salt and continue to cook until tomatoes cook fully.
  • Add the rice and stir well with the mixture.
  • Add water, keep the flame low and cook for about 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and keep it covered for an additional 10 – 15 minutes before serving.


See notes above.

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