I was very close to not getting my share of desserts from FF53 yesterday. A lot of party goers asked me about the Chicken Mandi recipe and I couldn’t give them the complete recipe. I promised that I will be sharing the recipe soon. And that soon is today. 😉
Chicken Mandi is a recipe originated from Yemen (I asked my BFF, Google). It is some sort of a one-pot meal and similar to Biryani.
To enlighten you more, here’s what my BFF said:
“The main thing which differentiates mandi is that the meat is cooked in the tandoor (taboon in Hadhrami), which is a special kind of oven. The tandoor is usually a hole dug in the ground and covered inside by clay. To cook mandi, dry wood is placed in the tandoor and burned to generate a lot of heat turning into charcoal. Then the meat is suspended inside the tandoor without touching the charcoal. After that, the whole tandoor is closed without letting any of the smoke out.”
These days, this can be done inside the usual oven: the chicken is placed over a rack; under that, the rice is cooked in a stainless cooking pot or any oven-proof pot. Is it confusing? Okay, you will understand later as I will provide you the video of the source recipe. 🙂
Cooking this Mandi is a little challenging for me as I am not sure if my cooking pot can be used inside the oven and this is my first time to cook this kind of meal. Another thing is that I never made my own spice. For Mandi’ sake, I did my first ever spice mix. Hawaij is a traditional Yemeni spice from various ground spice mixtures. It is usually made from cumin, black pepper, turmeric and cardamom. But because I am scaredy cat, I did not include cumin in the spice I made.
Now, for the recipe:
CHICKEN MANDI WITH RICE Recipe
- Chicken, either 1 whole or split into halves is best
- 1 tsp. hawaij spice mix (recipe below)
- 1/8 tsp. turmeric
- 2 tbsp. melted butter for the chicken marinade
- a pinch of saffron threads soaked in 1-2 tbsp. water
- 4 cups of rice (I used Basmati rice)
- water for rice (according to the instructions for your rice)
- salt to taste (I used 3 tsp for 4 cups of rice)
- 2-5 green chilis (to taste)
- 1 onion, chopped
- cardamom pods
- whole cloves
- whole peppercorns
- 2 tbsp. oil for the rice
- cinnamon stick (I did not use this)
- food coloring (optional)
- a piece of natural coal
- bay leaves
- The night before (or several hours) place the saffron threads in a couple tablespoon or so of warm water. Let this sit until the water turns deep orange.
- Mix together the hawaij spice mix, turmeric and melted butter. Spread this generously over the chicken, cover and marinate for a couple of hours. (You can add salt to the chicken marinade, if desired)
- In a large pot, sauté the onions in oil over medium heat until soft. Turn off the heat and add the rice, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, chilis, salt, and water.
- Place a wire rack over the pot of rice and then place the chicken on top of the wire rack, making sure that the pot is larger in diameter than the chicken. Place both in the oven at 425 F.
- Start off cooking the chicken/rice for 15-20 minutes so that the outside of the chicken starts the browning process. Then lower heat to 325 to cook it through nice and slowly which will give the chicken a nice texture and fall off the bone. Cook it until the juices run clear or internal chicken temp is 165 F. I recommend using a thermometer especially if this is your first time cooking a chicken. Whole chicken may take 1 hour and 45 minutes. Half chicken is 1 hour, depending on how big or small your chicken is.
- Remove the rice and chicken and let sit for a few minutes before cutting the chicken. Fluff the rice. Now is also the time to add the saffron and/or food coloring to the rice.
- Cut the chicken and place it in the rice pot. Place a small ramekin in the middle with vegetable oil inside. Then add the red hot coal inside the oil and cover the pot with a lid. It should smoke, giving the rice a smoky flavor.
HAWAIJ RECIPE (Traditional Yemeni Spice Mixture)
Recipe from Martha Stewart INGREDIENTS
- 6 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1/4 cup cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons green cardamom pods
- 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
- 3 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric
Place peppercorns, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, and cloves in a small skillet and toast over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder; grind and mix with turmeric. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.
One of my 2015 resolutions is to explore more foods from other cultures. And I am proud to say that this dish will be on my list whenever there’s a celebration that’s going to happen.
Chicken Mandi can be served with blended fresh tomatoes with chili and yogurt. Also, this can be served with caramelized onions.
And I must say that caramelized onions is my new love. If I could marry it, I really would. ❤ (See here How to Caramelize Onions)
I hope you like the recipe. Enjoy! 😉