Having spent most years of my life in this arab country I have developed an attachment to the their culture, language and food. From the time I was a KG kid till I completed my schooling I have lived in Al Ain, an oasis of Abu Dhabi. It is a small, calm and quiet town where people from busy cities like Dubai come to enjoy some leisure time with their family and friends on holidays. Al Ain is well known for its gardens, hot water spring and the famous Jebel Hafeet, a mountain in the outskirts of Al Ain, and its serene atmosphere. Al Ain has developed a lot now and it’s no more that small and simple town it used to be. Whatsoever Al ain is still very special to me and I’m happy that the place with which all my childhood memories are linked is just an hour or two away from me even now.
Arabic cuisine was very much loved in my family back then and is still one of our favorites. Dad used to bring home grilled chicken (Dajaj Mashouwi) once in a while which we kids used to very lovingly call ‘Narakathile Kozhi’ meaning the ‘Chicken in hell’. Though we were told not to call it that way, that’s the name that still comes to my mouth when I even think of it. The chicken is grilled on a rod in a steel box that has glass doors and a vertical stove on one side. The fire from the stove really gave it a hell like look and that’s the story behind the name. 😉
After telling you this short Arabian tale of mine today’s recipe, has got to be Arabian as well. Definitely it is and a very famous arabic delicacy too and there will hardly be anyone who hasn’t atleast heard of it. My mom had made this on previous Eid for lunch and we all loved it. So as you all might have guessed, yes, this is my mom’s recipe. By the way, there are a lot of methods for preparing Mandi but this is my favourite and this recipe will undoubtedly give you a yummy Chicken Mandi. Feast on it with your family and friends because arabic food is all about sharing and eating together.
Serves: 3 to 4 persons
- Chicken – 700 gms (cut into large BBQ pieces)
- Rice – 2 cups
- Onion – 2 nos (sliced)
- Whole Cashews – 10 to 15 nos
- Ginger paste – 1 tsp
- Garlic paste -1 tsp
- Green chilies – 2 to 3 nos
- Tomato – 3 nos
- Butter – 4 to 5 tbsp
- Salt – to taste
- Pepper powder – 2 tsp
- Cumin powder – 1 tsp leveled
- Coriander powder – 1tsp leveled
- Garam Masala – ¼ tsp
- Piece of coal – for smoking the rice
- Wash and soak the rice in water for about 30 mins and drain.
- Clean and wash the chicken pieces and place in a pot with about 3 cups of water. Add salt and pepper powder and cook till the chicken is done. Drain and place the chicken on a separate plate and reserve the chicken stock for cooking the rice.
- Blend together the tomatoes and the green chilies without water.
- Heat about 2 to 3 tbsp of butter in a deep non stick vessel and fry the chicken till it attains a golden colour.
- In the same butter fry three-fourth of the sliced onion and cashews till golden brown and remove onto a plate.
- Add the remaining butter and fry ginger and garlic paste till the raw smell is gone. Then add the sliced onions left and salt and sauté till the onion is nice and soft. Add pepper powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder and sauté for a minute.
- Measure the chicken stock and tomato puree in cups; if in total it is less than four cups add water to get the required quantity (We need four cups of broth for cooking two cups of rice). Pour the stock, tomato puree and if required water as well to the sautéed onion and spices. Adjust the salt and wait for the broth to boil. When it starts boiling add the drained rice and cook covered till the rice is done and there’s no more water left. Then place the fried chicken pieces on the rice.
- Heat a piece of charcoal till red and put it in a small steel bowl and pour some oil over it. It will immediately start producing smoke.
- Place the bowl with coal over the rice and cover the vessel with a tight fitting lid. After 5 minutes remove the bowl from the vessel and discard the coal.
- Garnish Mandi with fried onions and cashews and serve hot with Arabic tomato sauce and fresh salad.
For Arabic Tomato Sauce:
- Blend together 3 medium sized tomatoes, 1 or 2 green chilies and salt. Add lemon juice if required and mix and serve.
- Though I have used skinned chicken here you may very well use chicken with skin if you prefer as it’s only going to enhance the flavor.
- To get the authentic taste of Arabic Mandi the final smoking step is extremely crucial.