Updated: Nov 28, 2020
A simple chicken and rice dish called as Mandi, originated in Yemen but has a strong presence in the region with many arab countries having their own versions, each equally delicious.
Traditionally Mandi is cooked in a pit with hot charcoal below, rice on top of it and marinated chicken on top of rice. The pit is covered and the cooking goes on for hours. Chicken, fish or meat are very common options. The whole process has very limited spices and the rice is cooked with the skin fat dripping in the rice. Rice is loaded with flavour and the chicken or meat very tender and moist.
I was introduced to Mandi, 18yrs back when I lived in the UAE. Across the creek on Deira side there was a lovely restaurant called as 'Aden'. It served some delicious Mandi. Even now, here in Oman, Mandi serving restaurants are very popular. They are easily available and a quick tasty lunch with mountain of rice, a big piece of chicken or meat costs very little.
I cook Mandi without the pit in an oven(onv). This is a recipe that I had picked up from a very close friend from Yemen. The whole dish literally takes no time to cook and as long as the chicken is marinated well, the job is 70% done.
Along with my chicken Mandi, I have made the a typical side dish called as Zahawiq. A Yemeni salsa 😊
Let me take you through the recipe
Ingredients: (serves 2 persons)
2 chicken leg quarters with skin on
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 Tb Mandi spice( check the notes at end)
Less than half tsp of saffron color powder
Salt as per taste
2TB olive oil
230gm sella basmati rice (soaked for 2hrs)
300ml hot water with 2 cubes of chicken stock dissolved
Whole spices (4 green cardamom, 3 cloves, 1/2 inch cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves and 2 pierced dried lemon)
One and half sliced onion
1 - In a bowl mix turmeric, Mandi spices, salt and saffron color along with 1tb olive oil.
2 - Rub the above mix to the chicken on both sides. Set it aside for 3-4hrs in refrigerator.
3 - wash and soak rice for two hours min if using sella rice.
4 - In a pan add 1TB olive oil and 1TB ghee. Once heated, add whole spices and let it fry for few seconds. Add the onions until they are translucent.
5 - Add rice and toss until the moisture runs out. Add stock water, mix and cook on lowest heat with the lid wrapped with a tea towel (steam to stay in). Cook for 10–12min. Once there is very little moisture left, the rice would be almost cooked. Heat off. Keep it tightly covered so it gets cooked in steam.
6 - pre heat the oven at 200C (gas)
7 - Place the chicken on an oven safe mesh in a baking tray, bake on lowest rack for 35mins or until internal temperature of chicken leg is 70C. Remove the tray, brush some butter and place it on 3rd rack under broiler for 10Mins to get the charred texture
8 - using oven gloves remove the tray out, remove the mesh and place on the rice. For the for the smoky taste, Make a small bowl using aluminum foil, and place in one side of the rice pot. place red hot heated charcoal in the foil and put a tsp of olive oil. Immediately close the lid and keep it closed for a minute or two. *This step is optional * It gives a lovely smoked effect.
1 - We get ready made mandi spice mix. If you don’t, please look up online to make instant one.