How to Prepare Chicken Mandi

Chicken Mandi is a traditional Arabic dish known for its fragrant rice and tender, flavorful chicken. Originating from Yemen, Mandi has gained popularity across the Middle East and beyond. This recipe serves two people and combines aromatic spices with succulent chicken and perfectly cooked rice. Follow along for a delicious culinary journey.


For the Chicken:

  • 2 chicken leg quarters
  • 2 tablespoons Mandi spice mix (a blend of cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, and turmeric)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste

For the Rice:

  • 1 cup Basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes and drained
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water

For Serving:

  • Fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
  • Lemon wedges
  • Tomato salsa or salad


Marinating the Chicken:

  1. In a bowl, combine the Mandi spice mix, minced garlic, yogurt, lemon juice, and salt.
  2. Make incisions on the chicken leg quarters and rub the marinade all over them, ensuring they are evenly coated. Let them marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator, or preferably overnight for the best flavor.

Preparing the Rice

  1. Heat ghee or butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
  2. Add sliced onions and sauté until they turn golden brown and caramelized.
  3. Stir in minced garlic and cumin seeds, and cook for another minute until fragrant.
  4. Add soaked and drained Basmati rice to the pot, along with ground cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, and salt. Stir well to coat the rice with the spices.
  5. Pour in chicken broth or water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and let the rice simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through and fluffy. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cooking the Chicken

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Place the marinated chicken leg quarters on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  3. Cover the tray with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
  4. Remove the foil during the last 10 minutes of cooking to allow the chicken to develop a golden crust.

Assembling the Chicken Mandi:

  1. Once the chicken and rice are ready, transfer the cooked rice to a serving platter, spreading it out evenly.
  2. Arrange the baked chicken leg quarters on top of the rice.
  3. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro or parsley, and serve with lemon wedges and tomato salsa or salad on the side.

Serving Suggestions:

    • Chicken Mandi is often served with a side of tomato salsa or salad for freshness and acidity to balance the flavors.
    • You can also enjoy it with a dollop of yogurt or a drizzle of tahini sauce for added creaminess.
    • Accompany the dish with traditional Arabic flatbreads like khubz or pita bread.

Serve Chicken Mandi with Raw Mango raita and Pickled onions for a delicious weeknight dinner.

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