Rice with Chicken (Mandi)

imageMandi, also known as Hanneth, is the traditional dish of Hadhramaut  and many other Yemeni cities. It is now very popular in the rest of the Arabian Peninsula and in many other Arab countries, such as Egypt and Syria. The word mandi comes from the Arabic word nada, meaning dew, and reflects the moist ‘dewy’ texture of the meat.

Mandi is usually made from rice (basmati), meat (lamb or chicken), and a mixture of spices. The meat used is usually a young and small sized lamb to enhance the taste further. 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 outside. Raisins and pine nuts can be added to the rice as per one’s taste.  Mandi serves as the main dish served during special events, such as weddings and feasts.

Here are the things that we need:

THE RICE MIXTURE:

3 cups Basmati Rice

3 tbsps. Ghee

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 sticks cinnamon

6-8 pieces cloves, whole

8 cloves cardamom, whole

2 pieces bay leaves

1 tbsp. salt (according to taste)

2 large tomatoes, chopped

2-3 small hotgreen peppers (optional)

4 1/2 cups water or hot broth of chicken

THE CHICKEN MIXTURE

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces or you may use any chicken part based on your individual preferences.

1/2 tsps. cardamom

1 1/2 tsps. mixed spices

1 tsp. salt

1/4 black pepper (ground)

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. turmeric

1/2 tsp. dried lime

1/2 tsp. coriander

2 tbsps. oil

4 tbsps. lemon juice

METHOD:

1.  Rinse the rice until water runs clear and soak it in warm salted water for 15 to 20 minutes.

2.  Preheat the oven to 170C.  Fit the middle rack.

3.  In the medium saucepan stir the ghee and onions over medium heat until onion is golden brown.  Drain the rice and add it to the onion. Add the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, bay leaves, salt and tomaoes, stir until well mixed.  Place it in a large baking dish.

4.  Pour the water or broth on the rice.  If you want it to be spicy, you may cut the hot peppers and place them on top of the rice.

5.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil, make some slits and set aside.

6.  In a medium bowl place the cardamoms, spices, salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon, turmeric, dried lime, coriander, oil and lemon juice, mix well and the put the chicken, coating each piece well.

7.  Place the chicken on the foil on top of the rice.

8.  Cover the chicken tightly with aluminum foil.

9.  Put in the oven for about 75 minutes or until the rice absorbs all the liquid and the chicken is well done.

10.  Place a piece of charcoal on fire until very hot.  Remove the upper layer of foil that is covering the chicken, place the charcoal beside the chicken replacing the cover quickly to keep the smoke inside, discard the charcoal after a few seconds.  This is done so that the chicken will absorb the smell of the smoke.

11.  Place the rice on a large dish and arrange the chicken pieces on top of it.  Garnish it with fried pine nuts if desired.

BON APPETIT!

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