Chicken Mandi is a traditional and popular Arabian dish where chicken, rice, and spices are carefully cooked to create a perfectly seasoned and aromatic dish. It’s packed with flavor and a wholesome dish your family will love.
- WHAT IS CHICKEN MANDI?
- HOW IS MANDI TRADITIONALLY PREPARED?
- WHY IS THIS THE EASIEST CHICKEN MANDI RECIPE?
- WHAT IS HAWAIJ MANDI SPICE MIX?
- INGREDIENTS YOU'LL NEED FOR CHICKEN MANDI
- HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN MANDI
- TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST CHICKEN MANDI
- DELICIOUS VARIATIONS
- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- MORE CHICKEN AND RICE RECIPES
- HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
This dish embodies the essence of Middle Eastern cooking. With its aromatic spices, tender chicken, and fragrant rice, Chicken Mandi is one of the most delicious Mediterranean chicken and rice meals.
The key to this traditional recipe lies in the Yemeni spice mix known as "Hawaij." This unique blend of spices infuses the chicken and rice with an incredible combination of delicious flavors. What's best is that my recipe includes how to make your own, so you can use it for delicious recipes such as this one.
WHAT IS CHICKEN MANDI?
Chicken Mandi is an aromatic and perfectly seasoned chicken and rice meal. The flavor is unlike anything you would have tried before and is something you need to make at least once in your life.
It is by far one of the most popular Arabian dishes worldwide, and you’ll find it in many restaurants globally as well! There are so many Arabian rice dishes that we know of, like Saudi Kabsa, but Chicken Mandi is one of the most special ones out there.
The name "Mandi" means ‘dew’ in Arabic, which lends to the dewy, juicy texture of the chicken once it’s cooked, resulting from the traditional cooking method.
HOW IS MANDI TRADITIONALLY PREPARED?
Mandi is traditionally cooked under the ground. In Yemen, they dig a hole in the ground, fill it with hot coals and place a big pan of mandi on top, cover the hole with sand, and leave it slowly cooking for hours. It gives the dish a delicious smoky flavor. This underground tandoor oven is known as Tabloon.
WHY IS THIS THE EASIEST CHICKEN MANDI RECIPE?
My recipe is incredibly easy because you can make it using your stove and oven and still get that classic, delicious flavor. The method I’ll teach you in the recipe will replicate the dewy, juicy texture of the chicken in the easiest way possible at home!
WHAT IS HAWAIJ MANDI SPICE MIX?
Hawaij means “mixture” in Arabic. This is the special Yemeni spice mix used to make Chicken Mandi. You don’t need to roast whole spices and grind them for it; if you have spices in powder form, just mix them all up! My recipe shares exactly how to make it.
INGREDIENTS YOU'LL NEED FOR CHICKEN MANDI
All you need are some simple, pantry staple ingredients to make this chicken mandi at home.
You can scroll down to the recipe card for further details and instructions.
- Chicken: We'll need chicken to make our delicious chicken mandi! I've used one whole chicken with skin and cut it in half for this recipe. Check out the variations section for more ideas.
- Spice Mix: We will make our own hawaij spice mix to flavor our delicious chicken.
- Salt: You'll also need some salt to taste to flavor the chicken to just the right level.
- Butter: We'll use some melted butter to mix the spices to coat and marinade the chicken.
FOR THE RICE:
- Onion: To get that delicious aromatic flavor in the dish. When sautéed, they release their natural sweetness and develop a savory aroma, creating a foundation of flavor for the entire dish.
- Tomato: Chopped tomato will add a tangy and slightly sweet taste to the rice. The natural acidity of tomatoes helps balance the spices' richness and enhances the dish's overall flavor profile.
- Green chili: For extra heat, we'll also add a chopped green chili to this delicious Arabic chicken and rice dish.
- Olive oil: You'll be needing some to saute and cook our aromatics before adding the rice.
- Yemeni spice mix: We use our Yemeni spice mix here to give this delicious rice an authentic flavor.
- Rice: You'll need a cup of basmati rice or other good quality long-grain rice. It cooks up light, fluffy and separates once cooked instead of clumping together.
- Garnishing (optional): We'll need some raisins and slice almonds to give it that authentic flavor and feel.
FOR THE HAWAIJ SPICE MIX:
- Cumin Powder: Cumin has got to be one of my favorite spices! And it adds such a beautiful flavor to this recipe.
- Coriander Powder: This spice adds a beautiful aroma to the dish and is subtle yet perfect.
- Black Pepper Powder: This adds a nice little kick to the dish and is essential to this spice blend.
- Cardamom Powder: A beautiful aromatic spice, it’ll add something special to your dish!
- Cinnamon Powder: I’ve again gone for ground cinnamon since most of us have it readily at home. But you can use a cinnamon stick.
- Cloves Powder: Another delicious aromatic you’ll love!
- Turmeric Powder: Not only will this add an amazing flavor to your recipe, but it will also give a beautiful color to the chicken!
- Red Chili Powder (Optional): You can add half a teaspoon of red chili powder for an added kick if you like, but this is optional!
You might come across recipes that use other spices such as ginger powder, nutmeg, bay leaves, and saffron in this dish, but it’s definitely not required or what’s traditionally used.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN MANDI
Making this Arabic dish is easier than you think, and you'll be rewarded with the tastiest rice dish you've ever had!
The full instructions are in the recipe card below, but let's look at the main steps to making this dish
HOW TO MAKE YEMENI SPICE MIX
1. Combine the mandi spice (Hawaij)
Start by mixing all the Hawaij spices and storing them in an airtight container. You won’t need all of it, and it’ll store well for up to 6 months.
HOW TO MAKE MANDI CHICKEN
1. Marinate the chicken
Start off by seasoning the chicken with salt. Next, mix butter with the Hawaij spice blend and brush it on the chicken. Set the marinated chicken aside for 10 minutes.
2. Bake the marinated chicken
Next, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 190 degrees Celsius. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. After that, remove the foil and bake for an additional 25 to 35 minutes.
HOW TO MAKE MANDI RICE
1. Start off by taking a pot and heating some olive oil in it. Now add onions and fry them until they’re translucent.
2. Add tomatoes and green chilis. Now add the tomatoes and green chili, and stir on medium heat for 4 minutes.
3. Add the Hawaij (Yemeni spice blend), and stir for two minutes. Then pour water into the pot and season with salt.
4. Once the water has come to a boil, add the rice. When it starts to boil again, cover tightly. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible.
5. After 15 minutes, uncover the rice and gently stir, just to bring the bottom rice to the top. Cover tightly and cook for another 15-17 minutes.
Place the chicken on top of the rice and garnish with almonds and raisins when serving.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST CHICKEN MANDI
Marinate the chicken: To ensure maximum flavor, allow the chicken to marinate in the spice mix and melted butter for at least 10 minutes, or longer if possible. This allows the spices to penetrate the meat, resulting in a more flavorful chicken.
Don't remove chicken skin: For more flavor, do not remove the chicken skin. It will also give this dish an authentic touch.
Don't caramelize the onions: If you fry them too long, they will caramelize, and you'll be able to taste that hint of sweetness in the rice.
Add more spice mix: If you're making this rice without the chicken, add an additional teaspoon. It will add more flavor to this delicious Arabic dish.
Grill chicken: You can also grill the chicken and then add it to the dish.
Soak the rice: Never skip soaking it for at least 20 minutes. It makes it fluffy.
Cook rice properly: Every rice brand is different; you may not need to cook the rice for a further 16 to 17 minutes.
Lamb Mandi: The best meat for mandi is Lamb, it is tender and delicious. Marinate the lamb for four hours covered in the fridge, and bake in the oven. It will take around two hours and a half to cook.
Vegan Mandi: For a vegan version, skip the meat and focus on creating a delectable spiced rice dish. You can include a variety of vegetables, such as carrots, peas, bell peppers, and potatoes. Sauté the vegetables with the spice mix and layer them with the rice, creating a vibrant and flavorful Vegetable Mandi.
Spicier version: If you enjoy bold and fiery flavors, amp up the heat by adding additional red chili powder or crushed red pepper flakes to the spice mix.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes. However, the chicken might be a little on the dry side. The skin prevents the meat from getting direct heat and keeps it tender.
Yes, you can use boneless chicken. However, remember that bone-in chicken tends to be juicier and adds more flavor. If using boneless chicken, adjust the cooking time to ensure it doesn't dry out.
Yes, you can make it without an oven. Instead of baking the chicken, you can grill it or cook it in a skillet on the stovetop. Similarly, the rice can be cooked in a pot or rice cooker. The flavors may vary slightly, but you can still achieve a delicious Chicken Mandi without an oven.
Yes. Short-grain rice has more starch. It's best to add it before the water, and cook it for 2 minutes before adding the water.
Absolutely! You can prepare the Yemeni Spice Mix (Hawaij) in advance and store it in an airtight container.
MORE CHICKEN AND RICE RECIPES
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER
You can easily store leftovers in the fridge, place them in an airtight container, and refrigerate them for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it this way for up to three months!
When reheating, microwave or heat it on the stovetop in a pan. When frozen, place it in the fridge overnight to thaw and later reheat in the microwave or stove.
Please rate my recipe and let me know how you liked it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Yemeni Spice Mix (Hawaij)
- 2 ½ tablespoon cumin powder
- 2 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon black pepper powder
- 1 tablespoon cardamom powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ½ teaspoon cloves powder
- 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder Optional
For the chicken
- 1 chicken with skin cut in half
- 2 teaspoons Yemeni mix spice
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoon melted butter
For the rice
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 tomato chopped
- 1 green chili
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon Yemeni mix spice
- 1 cup Basmati rice washed and soaked
- 2 ½ cups boiling water Read the notes
- 2 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
- ½ cup Raisins and sliced almonds for garnish (optional)
For the spice
- Mix them all up and keep in airtight container.
For the chicken
- Season the chicken with salt. Mix butter with 2 teaspoons from the spice mix and brush the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes. You can skip the 10 minutes if you don't have much time.
- Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 25 minutes. If the chicken is bigger you will need to bake it a little longer. Keep aside.
For the rice
- In a pan add the olive oil, when hot add the onion and fry until translucent.
- Add the tomatoes and green chili, stir on medium heat for 4 minutes.
- Add the Yemeni spice mix, stir for two minutes. Pour the water and season with salt.
- When the water comes to a boil, add the rice. When it starts to boil again, cover tightly. Heat should turned down to the lowest.
- After 15 minutes, uncover the rice and gently stir, just to bring the bottom rice to the top. Cover tightly and cook for another 15-17 minutes.
- When serving, place the chicken on top of the rice and garnish with almonds and raisins.
- Depending on the weight of the chicken, it might take longer to cook in the oven.
- If you want to use more spices on the chicken, add a tablespoon and a half to the melted butter and then brush the chicken.
- It’s best to use Basmati rice in mandi recipes, but you can get good results using parboiled rice or short-grain rice.
- You can use 2 cups of boiling water for cooking the rice if you want it to have a bite.
- Every rice brand is different; you may not need to cook the rice for a further 16 to 17 minutes.
- This post was published in 2016 but is updated with more text, new photos, and a video.