Every cuisine in the world has its own aromatic ingredients which give a unique depth of flavor to their dishes.. We can never relate to that part of the culinary world without its distinct aroma and flavors. Aromas and flavors play an integral part in deciding the delectability and lusciousness of the dish. In other words, they are the soul of food.
Mandi is a traditional dish of Yemen and as a matter of fact, the entire Arabian Peninsula.The USP of this dish is its fragrant smokey rice topped with dewy and moistly flavorful meat, crunchy almonds and caramelized onions. The Arabic word ‘Mandi’ is derived from the word ‘Nada’ which means ‘Dew’. Traditionally it is cooked in a special clay oven,known as ‘Tabun’ that is built into the ground . Live, hot coal is placed on top as well and no steam is allowed to escape till the dish is cooked.
I first had a taste of this epicurean delight on one of my visits to the middle east. Ever since, I have been hunting for that ultimate recipe which could be made at home and be the closest match to the original in terms of aroma and flavor. None of the restaurants in my city could capture the lusciousness of the original Mandi in their versions.
Recently, one of my dear blogger friend Jhuls posted this recipe of Chicken Mandi which immediately appealed to me and gave me the feeling that my hunt would come to an end. I read and reread it and finally mustered the courage to make it. The recipe is very clear and the result was exceptional.Thank you dear Jhuls for sharing this awesome recipe. The rice turned out to be very flavorful and the chicken was tender and succulent. The varying of temperature of the oven during the cooking process ensured that the skin stayed crisp and the meat was juicy and fall apart.
The only problem I faced was to match the sizes of the wire rack and the rice pot. I was lucky to find a rectangular bake and serve glass dish which exactly fit the wire rack. I made my own ‘Hawaij spice mix‘ and that is highly recommended.
Recipe: Chicken Mandi
- 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 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
- 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.
Serving Suggestions: Sprinkle some crisp roasted or fried Almonds , Pistachios and Caramelized Onions just before you serve.
HAWAIJ SPICE MIXTURE RECIPE :
- 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.
Recipe from Jhuls@thenotsocreativecook and Martha Stewart
I am taking the Chicken Mandi for my Fiesta Friday friends.As usual it is being hosted by Angie@The Novice Gardener. Co-hosting this time are the fabulous Caroline @Caroline’s Cooking and Elaine @foodbod. Come along and have fun..
A Big Thank You to all my friends and community
Last week was a memorable one. The world was divided into two. No, not over wealth, woman or power. But as you all know over that dr…. I am not even spelling it out because I know, we have all seen and heard enough of it and can’t bear to read it once more 😉
And as most of you know,I was caught up with the dreaded Writer’s block, which was pretty frustrating.I thought it would take a long time to get back on the groove. But a big huge thanks for all my wonderful friends and supportive community who stood by me and inspired me to hit the keys again. ❤ ❤ ❤
A special thanks to:
Check them out:
- ‘well here is a little encouraging – i was feeling the same – but i INSISTED my muse wake up – I gave her a poke lol – one image of desert air – no idea why or where i was going – tugged at an old memory a bit – pretended i was someone else -and voila! poem! we all get these days (or weeks) – the thing is not to dwell on the block – jump it – it doesnt matter where you land. If all else fails try some of my prompts’
- ‘Oh no! I had writer’s block earlier this week too! it’s so so frustrating! I had to bang my head a bit and actually watch some sad movies to get myself out of it!
I hope it gets unblocked soon!’
- ‘Until the words find their way from your brain to the keyboard…cook! That way all of your delicious recipes and beautiful photos will be ready to publish. 🙂 ❤ Hang in there…this too shall pass!’
- ‘No worries!! Thats a part and parcel of the blogging journey! Whenever an ideas strikes i keep a note of it in my phone as a list and look them up when i am faced with the Block! But at times I am simply stuck and not able to write even after checking out The List :)’
- ‘Sometimes you just have to take a break and eat some junk food. That’ll get you back into the swing of things ;-)’
- ‘Oh dearie me, I hope you get out of that slump pronto skd. We couldn’t NOT have you visiting and attending the parties on Fridays now would we? The weather perhaps? It’s enough to get everyone down in the dumps’.
- ‘I am going through the exact same phase… “Writer’s block” or is it nature’s way of saying do something else’
- ‘Make your easiest comfort food.. Even if it’s toasted bread!’
- ‘you’re not alone! I totally relate – yesterday it felt that I took a looooooong time to write not very much at all – even when the words came, they did not translate as I repeatedly hit the wrong keys… my solution – feed that inner muse – all it’s favourite simple comfort food 🙂 might be why I am not the skinniest of souls but hey! Peace to you and try to give yourself a break, no one can be as amazingly awesome as you appear everyday ;)’
- I can definitely relate to this skd! I hope it clears soon! sometimes just writing anything at all can help clear up the head and get you going again, so hopefully writing this has pushed you in the right direction. Try not to stress too much about it, the words will come eventually, they always do!
- ‘Funny! You’ll get your groove back. Just keep writing.’
- ‘Ha! You are very talented. So happy that you didn’t skip us this week.’
- ‘guess you got over the writer block as you wrote these lines, my friend’
- ‘But bravo!! YOu don’t have writer’s block at all, because you have written an amazing poem!! 😀 I so appreciate this post!! :-)’
- Been there! Still there actually…
- Some days are like this.. Loved all ur pics.. especially the wall to bang. I do that a lot
- ‘ we all have these moments.
Life of a blogger.Tell me about it. I don’t know why I get all the traffic i do…’
- ‘Your poem is beautifully crafted, just like all your recipes!’
Aren’t they all awesome. All these suggestions really inspired me and here I am back to blogging.
Thank you once again.