Mandi, a traditional dish of Yemen made either with chicken or lamb…
Mandi is now popular among other Arab countries as well. Traditionally, the meat is slow cooked in a tandoor which makes the meat extremely tender and delicious, and served over aromatic rice.
I’ve tasted Mandi at an International food festival in my city, since then I’d been in search of an authentic Mandi recipe. While browsing through the online recipes, one of the recipes shared by an authentic Yemen lady caught my attention. My top criteria was that the recipe should be authentic and I am glad to have found such a recipe.
After reading the recipe, I had an idea that it’s going to taste mild unlike Indian style Biryani. Usually, I tweak most of the recipes to my liking and taste. While making this one, I resisted all the temptation I had to modify the recipe.
The spice rub used to marinate the chicken is called Hawaij– coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, whole black peppercorns are roasted till aromatic and made into a powder. Very few and very basic spices are used for making this dish. The chicken was marinated for 3 to 4 hours and then slow cooked in the oven on a wire rack placed over the rice pot. By this method, the dripping from the chicken would fall over the rice and both the rice and the chicken would be cooked at the same time.
The only work I had to do was marinating the chicken, the chicken was then placed in the oven and all the cooking was done in the oven. The chicken was slow cooked for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
I was so excited and eager to taste this dish. I was truly blown away at how amazing the rice tasted, saffron and the chicken dripping made the rice taste extremely delicious. The chicken was cooked so well, tasted mild yet delicious.
Note: This is a very mild dish, not spicy at all. The rice was extremely aromatic and tasted very flavorful. Enjoy this Mandi in its authentic way!
Recipe Courtesy-Heartfelt thanks to Katherine Abu Hadal for sharing this recipe through her wonderful blog.
Spices for making Hawaij
Roasting the spices
Place the chicken on a wire rack and then place it on the rice pot
Slow cooking in the oven
- Coriander seeds- ⅙ cup
- Cumin seeds- ⅙ cup
- Whole Black peppercorns- ⅛ cup
- Whole cardamom- 1 tbsp
- Whole cloves- 1 tsp
- Whole cinnamon- 2 inch slice
- Whole chicken- 3 Lb or 1½ Kg
- Hawaij spice- 2 tbsp
- Butter, melted- 3 tbsp
- Turmeric powder- ½ tsp
- Ground pepper- ½ to 1 tsp
- Salt- 2 to 3 tsp
- Basmati rice- 2½ cups
- Oil- 1½ tbsp
- Onion, chopped- 1
- Whole cardamom- 3
- Whole cloves- 2
- Whole cinnamon- 2 inch slice
- Bay leaves- 3
- Green chilies- 4 or 5
- Whole black peppercorns- 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp
- Saffron strands- 1 tsp soaked in 1½ tbsp water (must add)
- Water- 4½ cups
- Salt- to taste
- In a saucepan, roast all the ingredients for making the hawaij over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or till aromatic. Do not burn the spices.
- Let the roasted spices cool down and grind to a fine powder. Keep aside.
- I used whole skin on chicken, you could use halved chicken if you prefer.
- In a bowl, combine 2 tbsp hawaij with ½ tsp turmeric powder, ground pepper, salt and melted butter.
- Using a brush, spread the spice rub inside the skin, over the chicken and also inside the cavity.
- Place the chicken in a pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or marinate it overnight.
- In a small bowl, soak the saffron in water for an hour. Keep aside
- Place a large pot over medium heat, add oil.
- Add onion, season with salt and cook till translucent.
- Remove the pot from the heat.
- Add whole cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, pepper corns, green chilies, turmeric powder, rice, water and enough salt. Combine well.
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Place a wire rack over the pot with rice, and place the marinated chicken breast side down on the wire rack. By this way, the drippings from the chicken will fall over the rice. Make sure the pot is larger than the chicken.
- Place the pot along with chicken on the lower rack in the preheated oven.
- Cook for 15 minutes at 425 F.
- After 15 minutes, lower the heat to 325 F and cook the chicken and rice for 1 hour.
- After an hour, gently flip the chicken (breast side up) and again cook for another 45 minutes or till the chicken has browned and cooked well inside.
- I slow cooked the chicken at 325 F for 1 hour and 45 minutes. The cooking time might vary based on the size of the chicken, so keep an eye.
- Take the rice and chicken from the oven. Remove the wire rack from the pot, let the chicken cool down a bit.
- Add the soaked saffron into the rice and combine well. Adding saffron is a must as this is what makes the rice aromatic and flavorful.
- If the water in the rice hasn't dried up or if you feel the rice is too crisp, you could cook (stove top) the rice over medium heat for a few minutes till the water evaporates and the rice has turned just tender.
- Spread the rice over a platter and place the chicken over the rice.
- If you want you could garnish with roasted almonds.
- Enjoy this authentic Chicken Mandi with your family.
How to cook on stove top:
Cook the marinated chicken covered in a large pan. Rotate the chicken every 30 seconds and cook till the chicken has browned well.
Cook the rice separately in a different pan. You could add chicken stock instead of water so the rice gets flavorful.