Middle East is where many cuisines, as a whole got evolved. Rice and protein are the main two components which forms many main course dishes. EID time or festivals or celebrations are the time when these types of dishes are extensively prepared. In India, celebrations especially EID is associated with Biryani. Every time on these occasions I post a Biryani recipe. So this time I thought of posting something different.
Since I’m staying in the Middle East and Middle Eastern cuisine is famous all over the world especially in our lil home state, Kerala, I grabbed this opportunity to share the Mandi recipe. Mandi is originally from Yemen, though it is spread and relished all over the Arab countries. Technique used for cooking Mandi is what makes it totally a different type of meal. High pressure oven (tandoor oven) which is placed underground or a large whole dug underground and covered with clay is filled with wood and burnt to charcoal. The rice and meat is placed inside this tightly covered, then sealed and slow cooked to perfection. This is the traditional way of cooking Mandi.
Home made Mandi is slightly different from this way since we don’t have the above said facility. I use a gas oven for the whole cooking process. Domestic Mandi is made in different ways. After many trial and error, this was the one which yielded maximum result and super taste. Setting the right oven temperature and slow cooking the meat and rice at appropriate heat and time gives that restaurant taste totally. I was so happy after getting this recipe right, as my family is Mandi crazy. And since then it has been doing rounds in my house at regular intervals.
Marinating is the next important factor in this dish. Different spices are used in the marinade. None of the spices should be overpowering and distinct. The marinade have to be lightly brushed and massaged on to the chicken. No spice powders or flavor should overpower the pure taste of chicken. Try to keep the marinated chicken over night or minimum 8-10 hours. This will help in flavors getting blended into the chicken and making the chicken tender and super soft.
Super quality Basmati Rice is needed for a super tasty Mandi recipe. Don’t soak or over wash the rice. Since we are cooking the rice in oven for long hours, it tends to get soggy and over cooked. To get the perfect long, crisp and soft rice, wash and drain the rice completely dry. Always measure the water and take. Water should be lesser than the quantity used for stove top cooking. This will help in getting separated grains without touching each other as you get in a restaurant. Remove all the spices from the rice once it’s cooked. Fluff up with a fork and set in a warm place till you serve it.
Saffron is that element that rounds off this dish. It is generously used in chicken marinade and rice. A slightly edgy flavor should be sensed and felt when you enjoy the rice. This dish is not at all spicy or overloaded with spices and flavors. It is highly on a bland flavored side with the basic taste like salty and tangy which is what felt and relished. This recipe which I’m sharing with you is very close the restaurant styled ones. We often visit a famous Mandi outlet here in Sharjah which motivated me try out and perfect this recipe.
Hope you all will enjoy and like this recipe too. Do keep posted through emails or put in your comments in the box.
Wash and drain the chicken well. Rub the garlic and lime inside out of the chicken thoroughly and rest for 15 minutes. Combine rest of the ingredients into a fine paste and massage thoroughly onto the chicken. Adjust salt. Cover with a cling film and keep refrigerated for 8-10 hours or overnight.
Heat a pot and add 2 tbsps of Oil. Add the onions along with salt and cook till wilted and soft. Take it our from the stove and add the whole spices and mix quickly and keep for a minute so that all the spices start releasing its aroma. Add the washed and drained rice and homogenize everything followed by stock combined with stock cubes, saffron and turmeric.
Place the pizza pan/baking tray on top of the pot. Place the marinated chicken on top. Brush with oil. Cover tightly with foil so that no steam is let out. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degree centigrade for 1 1/2 hours. Take out the pot from the oven and remove the chicken pan and place it back to the oven without the foil and brown it to perfection.
Meanwhile, take out the spices from the rice and fluff up the rice by adding the raisins into it. Keep warm till the chicken is ready. Take a piece of charcoal and add some oil into it. Light it and keep burning till you get a hot charcoal. Kill the flame and place it in the centre of the rice, followed by the grilled chicken. Immediately cover it with the foil and rest for 2 minutes to get that smoky flavor.
Serve immediately with the tomato sauce.
Blend all the ingredients coarsely and serve along the Mandi.