This perfect Chicken Mandi recipe will soon become your family’s favourite weeknight dinner. It’s juicy and flavorful, with bright and savoury rice.
A Winner of a Dinner.
Dinner doesn’t get much better than a heaping bowl of Chicken Mandi and making it is really quite simple. But, the question is how do you make the best Chicken Mandi? And how do you make it as simple as possible, so that you can enjoy it over and over for any occasion, and on weekdays with very little fuss?
Well, our perfect Chicken Mandi answers these questions. It’s simple, delicious—it’s a platonic ideal Chicken Mandi. End of story⏤unless you live in Yemen or have access to a tandoor oven and have 2 hours to cook this. Then that’s a different story with a few tasty ending.
Chicken Mandi 101
Maybe you’re wondering, Mandi, what? I’ve never heard of this dish. Or this dish isn’t from the Mediterranean! It’s from Yemen. Here’s the deal on Mandi:
- Originally it’s a Yemeni recipe, but it’s so delicious that it permanently migrated to Turkey, Levant, & Egypt and became a household recipe. Therefore in my humble opinion, it’s an Eastern Mediterranean dish now!
- The Trademark taste of mandi is it smoky essence from the tandoor oven. Home cooks use a red piece of charcoal, oil, and a small heatproof bowl to recreate this flavour.
- Hawaij spice mixture gives the rice and chicken a beautiful colour and it’s signature savoury taste.
- Pan dripping makes this dish—in other words, you must scrape all of the flavorful dripping bits from the bottom of the pan and add it to the rice.
- Other recipes recommend cooking the chicken over top of the rice in the oven⏤this can result in a high recipe failure and I don’t want that to happen to you.
- Sella basmati rice is the best rice to use for this dish or anyone who tends to over-cook or over-stir when making rice. Sella Rice is parboiled basmati rice so it cooks perfectly every time!
How to Make the Perfect Mandi Hawaij spice mix:
My perfect chicken mandi recipe calls for a spice called Hawaij. Hawaij is a popular spice blend in Yemen, Somalia and Isreal, there are a few different versions of the hawaij spice blend⏤savoury for rice and meats or sweet savoury blend for sweets and drinks. luckily for us, it’s so easy to make this hawaij spice blend.
You’ll probably have most of these spices on hand:
- Indian bay leaf or regular bay
- Black peppercorns
How Do You Make the perfect chicken mandi?
Chicken Mandi may seem difficult to make but truth be told it isn’t difficult to master, so don’t let it intimidate you.
The perfect Chicken Mandi is as easy as:
- Buy a chicken—any size or cuts will do! I’ve chosen to use drumsticks to speed up cooking time and make this a weekday meal.
- Prepare the Hawaij spice mixture.
- Season the chicken with the Hawaij.
- Bake the chicken in a preheated oven. Roasting the chicken in the oven doesn’t take terribly long, but the cooking time does depend on the size and or cuts of meat you’ve chosen.
- Make your rice, add the onions, ghee and spices. Then add the rice give it a stir, pour in the water and cover.
- Use the chicken’s pan drippings to create a fabulous “flavour booster” by adding it to your rice.
- Place the cooked chicken on top of the cooked rice.
- To create the signature smokey flavour. You’ll need a small piece of hot charcoal. Place a small heat-proof dish with oil in the middle of the rice and chicken. Drop the hot coal in the metal dish and very quickly cover the rice with a tight lid.
More Rice Recipes To Try
PERFECT CHICKEN MANDI
- Chicken 8 drumsticks
- 2 onions finely chopped
- 1 tsp ghee
- 1 1/2 cup of Sella Basmati rice wash and presoaked 30 minutes.
- 1 to mato peeled,& diced or 1/2 cup of can tomatoes (approximately 1/2 can)
- 1 recipe of Hawaij spice mixture
- 2 1/2 tsp sea salt please don't use table salt!
- 1 cup of golden raisins
- 1 cup of pinenuts almond silvers, cashews
- 1 tsp ghee
Hawaij Spice mixture:
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 Indian bay leaves ground into powder* see notes
- Prep Chicken: wash your chicken and give it a little scrub with fresh lemon,⏤skip the lemon if you don't have it on hand. Dry the chicken with a paper towel so the spices will stick to the meat.
- Let's spice it up: Rub 2 tsp of the Hawaij spice mixture and a pinch of salt onto the chicken. Once the chicken is coated with the spices, add a drizzle of olive oil, and rub everything together. Allow the chicken to marinate well your oven is heating up.
- Start your oven: Pre-heat your oven to 400°. Once heated transfer, the chicken to a baking pan and cover with tin-foil, bake for 40 minutes or until the chicken reaches 164°f. Once the chicken goes into the oven, start the rice.
- Now we start the rice: Heat a large pot, add ghee, onions. Sautee. Occasionally stir the onions until they're totally cooked through but not brown, add 2 tsp of the Hawaij spices continue cooking until the spices start to stick to the bottom of the pot, about 90 seconds.
- A layer of saucy flavour: Now, add the tomatoes, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pot. Season with salt generously with 11/2 tsp, and reduce heat to a medium-low. Cook until the tomatoes start to break up and thicken.
- Add the rice: Cook, the rice in the sauce. Stirring, until the rice is really well coated, the sauce should be sticking to each individual grain of rice. Add approximately 3 cups of hot water and 1/2 tsp more of salt. (I like to taste the saltiness of the water at this point and decide if more salt is needed-the water should be slightly salty to the taste but not as salty as the sea) Bring the water to a boil. Then reduce to low heat and cover for 20 minutes. No peeking, just let it be.
- After 20 minutes of the rice cooking: Remove the chicken from the oven. Open the tin-foil, remove the chicken and pour all the chicken dripping into the rice. Give it a good stir! Place the chicken back into the baking pan and continue cooking until the chicken reaches 165°f, and the skin is nice and crispy.
- Time for some magic! You'll need a small piece of charcoal and a small metal dish (see notes) for this part of the recipe. Place the chicken in the pot with the rice, add the small metal dish in the centre of the rice. Pour 1 tsp of oil into a mini heat-proof bowl. Heat the charcoal on the element of the stove until the coal is red. Add the hot charcoal into the mini bowl with oil. You're going to see a lot of smoke! Quickly, cover the pot with its lid and wrap-around with a kitchen towel to stop any smoke from leaving the pot. Wait 5-8 minutes for the smoke to disappear in the rice. Open the lid, remove the chicken, and stir the smoky flavour.
- In the meantime: Fry your nuts in a 1 tsp ghee until they're just about to turn golden brown.
- Set the table! Place the rice on a serving platter, top with the chicken and then the nuts and raisins.
Time-saving hacks:Marinate the chicken the night before. You can also freeze the chicken in the spice mixture. To wash your rice or not to wash rice, that is the question, I'll let up to you. I personally always wash my rice, but others don't. So I leave that step up to you. I don't usually soak my rice. If you choose to soak your rice you'll need to increase the prep time.
- I use Instant Charcoal Quality Hookah for the smoking step, you also can use a broken piece of charcoal if that what you have available.
- If you do not have a metal dish then you can use a foiled up piece of tin-foil. Fold the tin-foil into a square about 3 times, so the square fits into the palm of your hand. curl the corners into a bowl-like shape so the oil won't pour out and the coal will fit perfectly.