Prepare yourself for an extraordinary culinary journey featuring the timeless Yemeni Chicken Mandi, a dish that promises a delightful adventure filled with tantalizing surprises. The harmonious blend of flavors and textures in this dish creates a symphony of tastes that will undoubtedly leave you speechless!
Imagine tender chicken, cooked just right with special spices, resting on top of fragrant Basmati rice. But wait, there’s more! It’s also topped with crispy fried onions that add a savory crunch, and almonds that bring a nutty flavor. This recipe is a real winner and will make your taste buds dance with joy!
What Is Yemeni Chicken Mandi?
An aromatic rice and chicken dish infused with Middle Eastern flavors, Yemeni Chicken Mandi originates from Yemen; a country with a rich culinary heritage. Yemeni Chicken Mandi is traditionally prepared with succulent chicken, served on a bed of radiant golden rice.
However, that’s not what truly sets this dish apart. Authentic Chicken Mandi is cooked using a unique method that involves slow-cooking the chicken and rice together in a closed pot, allowing the flavors to meld and intensify. Once plated, the chicken is often topped with crispy fried onions, lending a delightful crunch, and accompanied by almonds that offer a contrasting nutty richness.
Although this Yemeni Mandi recipe is not cooked in the traditional way, it still tastes great!
Yemeni Mandi Cultural Significance
Yemeni Mandi holds a deep cultural significance within Yemen and the Middle East in general. It goes beyond being just a dish and plays a significant role in social and familial gatherings, celebrations, and traditions, particularly during Yemeni festive feasts. Here are some aspects of its cultural significance:
Symbol of Hospitality: This exquisite Arabian dish is often prepared and shared during special occasions, gatherings, and celebrations. It is a symbol of hospitality and generosity, reflecting the warmth and welcoming nature of Yemeni culture. Offering Mandi to guests is a gesture of honor and respect.
Cultural Expression: Yemeni Mandi is a form of cultural expression that showcases Yemen’s distinct flavors, techniques, and ingredients. It offers an opportunity for Yemenis to proudly share a part of their heritage with the world.
Culinary Heritage: Mandi showcases Yemen’s history and its place as a meeting point of old trade routes. The blend of spices used in Mandi reflects the region’s historical connections with various cultures, showcasing Yemen’s unique culinary identity.
For the best results, go with long-grain basmati rice; it works like magic with the flavors.
It is best to use bone-in full chicken legs because it keeps the dish really tender and juicy. I do not recommend using chicken breast for this recipe since breast meat is usually dry.
Saffron is a must for this recipe, mostly because it adds a very beautiful yellow pigment to the rice and also gives a delicious aroma.
Use toasted almonds as the final touch in garnish. The crunchy taste will be so special and yummy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
To ensure its freshness, store your Yemeni Chicken Mandi in an airtight container and keep it refrigerated for a period of 4 to 5 days.
Certainly! To preserve your Chicken Mandi, simply store it in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag in your freezer. This method ensures its quality for a period of up to 3 months.
Of course, you can! Yemeni Mandi can be partially prepared in advance by marinating the meat and precooking the rice. When you’re ready to serve, assemble the dish, layering the pre-marinated meat on the rice, and finish cooking or reheating. This allows you to enjoy the dish while spending more time with your guests.
Absolutely! While chicken and lamb are the most common choices, you can adapt the recipe to your preference. Beef or even fish can be used, adjusting the cooking time and seasoning accordingly for a delicious variation of Yemeni Mandi.
No, there’s absolutely no need to soak the rice.
For this recipe, it is much better to use basmati long-grain rice.
Ingredients for Yemeni Chicken Mandi
For the Chicken Broth:
Chicken: You need two bone-in chicken pieces with their skin on.
Onion: It gives this Yemeni Mandi recipe a pungent yet sweet flavor.
Bay leaf: It provides subtle, earthy aromas that enhance the overall taste.
Oil: You can use sunflower, avocado, corn, olive oil, or any other oil of your preference.
Cardamom pods: These tiny flavor powerhouses enhance the dish with their slightly citrusy notes.
Chicken bullion: A flavor-enhancing ingredient, serves as the secret behind the savory essence of Yemeni Mandi.
Seasonings: Black pepper, garlic powder, coriander powder, Mandi spices, salt.
For the Rice:
Basmati rice: Avoid using short-grain rice.
Onions: They infuse the Mandi with a savory sweetness that forms the foundation of its rich taste.
Fresh ginger: The zing of fresh ginger adds a lively kick to your Mandi.
Garlic: It gives an earthy allure, transforming Mandi into a rich and comforting dish.
Bell pepper: It brings color and freshness to the dish.
Mandi spices: This enchanting blend of spices is the heart of Yemeni Mandi.
Broth: It enriches every spoonful with its comforting essence.
Oil: Choose your preferred oil; sunflower, avocado, corn, or olive oil work well.
Saffron: A must-have ingredient, it brings a beautiful golden color and a captivating aroma.
Spices for Chicken Mandi:
You can either make your own mix or use a ready, store-bought mix.
Steps to Prep
For The Chicken
To start, add 3 tablespoons of oil to a pot, then add the quartered onion and mix until fragrant, then add the chicken.
Second, mix in the whole spices, followed by the rest of the powdered spices, and mix well.
After that, pour in enough water to cover the contents of the pot and let it boil for 30 minutes on medium heat.
Next, remove the chicken and broil it until its skin gets crispy.
For The rice
In a separate pot, add 3 tablespoons of oil. Sauté the finely chopped onions over medium/low heat for 15 minutes ensuring they soften without burning.
Once done, add the chopped 1-inch-size bell peppers with the garlic and ginger. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add the soaked and drained rice along with mandi spices and whole spices.
After that, pour in hot broth and adjust the salt according to your preference. Let it boil for 5 minutes before lowering the heat to low and simmering for 10-15 minutes.
Finally, light 2 pieces of charcoal or use liquid smoke. When both rice and chicken are ready, place the ignited charcoal in foil in the middle of the rice and chicken. Add a drop of oil to generate smoke.
Quickly cover the dish with foil, allowing it to sit for 5 minutes before removing the charcoal.
Transfer the cooked rice to a large serving platter and place chicken on top of it.
For added texture and flavor, garnish with freshly chopped parsley, toasted almonds, or pine nuts.
Serve with fresh salad, hot sauce, or yogurt.
At last, you can sit and enjoy your perfectly flavored Yemeni chicken mandi!
Yemeni Chicken Mandi
For the Chicken Broth:
- 2 chickens cut as desired
- 1 onion quartered
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 dry lime or lemon
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons mandi spices
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ginger powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons oil for sautéing
- 1 tablespoon chicken bullion powder
- water, to cover
For the Rice:
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1½ yellow onions
- ½ inch block fresh ginger
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 dry lime or lemon (loomi)
- ½ red bell pepper, cubed small
- ½ green bell pepper, cubed small
- ½ jalapeno, you can remove the seeds and veins for less flavor
- 1½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon mandi spices
- 4 cups reserved broth
- 3 tablespoons oil for sautéing
- 1 teaspoon saffron highly recommended
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon ginger powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cloves
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- caramalized and crispy onions
- toasted almonds
- golden raisins
- 2 lit up charcoal pieces with 1/2 teaspoon oil (to give it smokey flavor)
- Add 3 tablespoons of oil to a pot. Add the quartered onion, mix until fragrant, then add chicken.
- Mix in the whole spices, then add the rest of the powdered spices and mix well. Add water to cover and let it boil for 30 minutes on medium heat.
- Remove the chicken and broil it until its skin gets crispy. I like brushing it with some oil and mandi spices before crisping.
- For the rice, add 3 tablespoons of oil to a pot. Add finely chopped onions and sauté over medium/low heat for 15 minutes, so they soften and do not burn.
- Add the chopped 1/2 inch-size bell peppers with the garlic and ginger. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add the cinnamon stick and the dried lime, and add the soaked and drained rice along with mandi spices.
- Add the hot broth, cover, and adjust the salt to your taste. Let it boil for 5 minutes before lowering the heat to low and simmering for 10-15 minutes.
- Light 2 pieces of charcoal or use liquid smoke. When the rice and chicken are done, add the charcoal to foil in the middle of the rice and chicken and a drop of oil to let it smoke. Quickly cover the food with foil and let it sit for 5 minutes before removing the charcoal and discarding it.
- Transfer the cooked rice to a large serving platter and place chicken on top of it. You can also garnish with freshly chopped parsley, toasted almonds, or golden raisins and caramelized onions.
- Serve with fresh salad, hot sauce, or yogurt. Best served with Yemeni Sahawiq.
- For the rice, use long-grain basmati for the best results.
- For the chicken, use bone-in full chicken legs, which would keep the dish tender and juicy. I do not recommend using boneless chicken breast for this recipe since breast meat is dry.
- Saffron is a must for this recipe. Mostly because it adds a very beautiful yellow pigment to the rice and also gives a flavorful aroma.
- Use toasted almonds for a final touch in the garnish. The crunchy taste will be so special and yummy.