Mandi Recipe for Yemeni Chicken and Fragrant Rice

Mandi Recipe

Mandi Recipe for Yemeni Chicken and Fragrant Rice

  Mandi  is very popular in Yemen and Saudi Arabia as well as other Arab Countries. Similar to Kabsa, the main difference is the method of preparation. Mandi needs to be cooked very slowly over a long time. Traditionally the rice, spices and water is cooked together in special clay ovens that are built into the ground (Taboon). Live, hot coal is placed on top as well and no steam is allowed to escape till the dish is cooked. The word ‘Mandi’ is a derivation of an Arab Word ‘Nada’ which means ‘Dew’ and reflects upon the dewy or moist nature of the cooked meat.

SImply put, there is no way you can make A Real Mandi Dish at home, unless you have a hole in the ground made of clay. However modern day techniques can give you just about the same taste and flavors. Using a  slow cooker for example, gives great results. I use a Thermal Cooker to do the cooking and keep the dish warm till serving time. Of course, you can do the same on the stove top. Just cook on very low heat with a tight fitting lid.

Also, the method of placing a live piece of charcoal to smoke the dish. Place the red hot coal that has turned white inside the dish once cooked (in the centre inside a steel cup/tumbler containing olive oil – the coal, not touching the rice or meat). It will immediately create smoke. The pot containing rice is then covered so that the smoke fills up the pot, smoking up the rice and meat to get  some of that smoky aroma that develops in ‘Taboon’ Cooking.

Do check out our delicious “Mutton Mandi Rice” recipe as well, which is cooked using a pressure cooker.


Mandi Recipe for Yemeni Chicken and Fragrant Rice

Recipe Type: Main / Chicken / Rice
Author: Recipes ‘R’ Simple
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4


  • 1 chicken, cut into pieces. (skin and bone intact – see notes)
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 rounded Tbsp garlic, crushed to a paste (see notes)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ‘Baharat’ – Arabic Spice Blend
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne)
  • ¾ tsp black pepper powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1 dried lime (available in Arabian / Medditteranean Delicatessen Shops ) or dry your own if you can.
  • 2 cups  finest quality long grain basmati rice
  • 4 ¼ cups water
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion ( for frying), chopped finely
  • 4-5 Tbsp blanched and slivered almonds


  • Clean the chicken. Rinse well and keep drained.
  • Soak the Basmati for 5 minutes. Then rinse well and keep drained.
  • Preheat the oven to 175 ºc/350ºF.
  • To a pot large enough to hold the chicken and stock, add the drained chicken, one chopped onion, the garlic, salt, Baharat spice, coriander power, red chilli powder, black pepper powder and cumin powder.
  • Add the water and bring to a boil.
  • Add the cardamom and Dried lime.
  • Cover. Lower heat to a very light simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes.
  • Skim off any scum that forms on top occasionally.
  • On another burner, add the olive oil and the remaining chopped onion to a small pan. Stir on low heat. Cook for around 10 minutes, till light golden in color without getting crisp. (The heat should be low but maintain a constant sizzle in the pan.)
  • Once the chicken has been cooked, remove the chicken from the stock with a slooted spoon / strainer.
  • Place in a greased oven proof dish with the skin side up. Cover with foil and bake for – 35 minutes. (reduce this time to – 20 min if using skinless chicken)
  •  Sprinkle mild red chilli powder or paprika and drizzle some olive oil over the chicken. Return to the oven to bake uncovered for the remaining 5 minutes, closer to the top grill of your oven. Or use Broil Setting.
  • Strain the stock that is left in the pot. Add the soft golden onions in olive oil as well as the drained basamti. This rice must be cooked as slowly as possible.
  • ( I like to cook it till there is just some water left to be absorbed, then I transfer the rice to a thermal cooker – you can put the pot that the rice was cooked in directly into the thermal cooker if it fits, OR put the wet cooked rice into a smaller pot that fits and close the thermal cooker quickly. Keep it in this pot till its time to serve. It stays warm and is perfectly cooked with the perfect amount of moisture, without any crisping of rice on the bottom. I also add the roasted chicken into the same pot to let them steam together till time to serve.)
  • Toast the slivered (blanched) almonds in a dry pan till golden and toasted.
  • Serve the rice with the roasted chicken on top. Sprinkle the toasted almonds over the rice and serve with lemon/ lime wedges.
  • Serve with a cucumber and yoghurt salad or Arabian Spiced Tomato Sauce (Dakkous)


Mandi Recipe for Yemeni Chicken and Fragrant Rice

Try it and let us know – Mandi Recipe for Yemeni Chicken and Fragrant Rice .

  • We make this quite often with and without skin. Chicken with skin left on is best for this dish. Keeping the skin and bones while baking, keeps the chicken moist.  I have removed the skin here. If skin is removed, make sure it is not over baked in the oven, causing the meat to dry out.
  • To crush the garlic for Mandi, use a pestle and mortar, first to crush the garlic till well mashed then use a circular movement of the pestle to further grind the garlic to a paste OR you can use a garlic press to finely mince the garlic onto a chopping board and then use a chefs knife laid on its side to scrape the minced garlic into a paste. You can also use to tines of a fork to make the paste.
  • If you can not get the Baharat Spice powder, use Garam Masala although the flavor would be changed somewhat.
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About Shana Shameer

Love Cooking and discovering the very Best recipes out there.

4 thoughts on “Mandi Recipe for Yemeni Chicken and Fragrant Rice

  1. Pingback: Chicken Mandi Recipe : Arabian / Yemeni Fragrant Chicken and Rice Dish. | Where Is Bahrain - Greetings from Bahrain!!

  2. It looks so nice! I made it without the pot that you used. I tie around the pot a clean, wet cloth. It worked with me. Thanks for the recipe.

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