What is Mandi
Arabic food Mandi is a very popular one-pot dish. It looks a lot like biryani though the way to eat and cook is completely different. Although it is popular in all Arab countries, it originated in Yemen. Mandi is usually made from rice, meat and a mixture of Arabic spices. The word “mandi” comes from the Arabic word “nada”, meaning “dew”, and reflects the moist ‘dewy’ texture of the meat.
How is it cooked traditionally
The main technique which differentiates mandi from other meat dishes is that the meat is cooked in the tandoor, which is a special kind of oven which is usually a pit dug up in the ground and covered with clay all around its sides.
Dry wood is placed in the tandoor and burned to generate a lot of heat turning into charcoal. The meat is then boiled with whole spices until tender, and the spiced stock is then used to cook the basmati rice at the bottom of the tandoor, then the meat is suspended inside the tandoor above the rice and without touching the charcoal. After that, the whole tandoor is then closed with clay for up to 2-3 hours or even more depending on the meat.
Home style Chicken Mandi
As the traditional method is difficult for any home cooks like me to follow, I improvised the method by cooking them in my electric oven(OTG). I freshly made mandi masala mix and marinated chicken( used chicken pieces instead of whole chicken) for 4 hours. Then baked them by placing them above the rice in the oven. And the result gives me full satisfaction. It came out with amazingly flavourful. All the smoky flavours released from chicken is infused in the rice below. Also, the juices of chicken which comes put during a baking drip to the rice which makes rice extra aromatic.
- Preparation time: 5 hour(including marination time)
- Cooking time: 40 minutes + 15 minites
- Serves: 4
- Difficulty level: medium
Ingredients for Mandi spice mix
- 3 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 10-12 green cardamom
- 7-8 cloves
- 7-8 pieces 1″ size cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron powder
- 1 lemon(skin only)
Ingredients to make chicken
- 1 kg whole chicken
- 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder(optional)
- 2 tablespoon mandi masala mix
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt to taste
Ingredients to make rice
- 3 cup basati rice
- 3 medium size onion
- 1 handful golden raisin
- 2-3 green cardamom
- 2-3 pieces 1″ size cinnamon
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon mandi spice mix
- Salt to taste
Preparing the mandi spice mix
Collect all the ingredients to make the mandi spice mix.
In a pan, add in coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Remove the skin of the lemon and add into the pan.
Dry roast them in medium heat until the spices start to emit flavours. Rest for sometimes to cool down.
In a grinder, grind the roasted spices with 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and 1/2 teaspoon saffron. Your aromatic mandi spice mix is ready now. Keep aside.
Marinating the chicken
Cut the chicken into 4 parts. You can also do it with a whole chicken.
Make few slits on the chicken pieces with a sharp knife. This will help to penetrate the spices to the inner part of the chicken.
Now marinate the chicken pieces well with 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste, 2 tablespoons mandi spice, 1 teaspoon chilli powder, salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Cover and keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. If you don’t have enough time, you have to marinate the chicken at least for 2 hours to get a better result.
Preparing the rice
Take 3 cups of long grained basmati rice.
Clean properly and soak in water for about 1 hour.
When chicken is well marinated, start the cooking process. First cut 3 onions in thin slices.
In the meantime let preheat your oven at 200 degree C for 10-15 minutes.
Place a heavy-bottomed saucepan to the stove and pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Note that the saucepan should be oven-proof, as later it will go inside oven along with the chicken for cooking.
Add in whole green cardamom, cinnamon and cloves followed by sliced onions.
Continue to fry until the onions are brown.
Give the raisins. Fry a little more until the raisins swell.
Drain the soaked rice and add into the saucepan.
Fry for 4-5 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of mandi spice mix and salt. Fry for a few more minutes.
Add in with 6 cups of hot water. For your case, You have to measure the water as per your requirement.
Put the pot in the lower rack of the pre-heated oven.
Place the marinated chicken on the grill rack of the oven and place it on the top rack of the oven (just above the pot of rice).
Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes.
This is the technique of cooking mandi. Rice and chicken should be cooked together (put the chicken on top of the rice pot) in the oven. In this way, the fragrant smoke that will come out from the chicken will be infused in all the rice and will make the whole dish very tasty. Even then, the juice that comes out of the chicken during baking will drip into the bottom to the rice pot.
After baking for 30 minutes, take a look. If rice is done, put the pot down. My mandi rice is done after 30 minutes, so I took out the saucepan.
Bake the chicken for another 10 minutes. (You can increase the heat a little this time, or if you have a broil option in your oven, broil for 10 minutes.
Chicken is completely done after a total of 40 minutes of baking. They are very soft and moist from inside. with a spicy outer crust.
Fluff the rice with a thin spatula and pour into a large dish. Place the mandi chicken over the rice layer. Garnish with some fried onion and raisin. Serve immediately with tomato-coriander chutney.
You can make mandi with goat or lamb meat also following the same procedure. In that case, you have to marinate meat for a longer time. Also, add more spice mix compared to chicken and bake the meat for almost an hour.
Here👇is the recipe video of chicken mandi.