Servings : Serves 4-5

This is a traditionally Arabic dish that is also known as Mandi, and is a staple in most homes across many Arabic countries. It can be made with chicken or lamb. Everyone has a different way of making this finger-licking dish, here is my way. 🙂

Powdered spices

  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp. all-spice (garam masala)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp. red chilli powder
  • pinch of saffron

Whole Spices

  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 5 black pepper
  • 5 cloves


  • 1 chicken with skin, cut into 4 or 8 pieces
  • 3 cups rice
  • 2 tbsp. butter plus 4 tbsp. oil
  • 2 onions, chopped finely
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, blended with skin
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste/puree
  • 1 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger paste
  • 1 grated carrot (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind/zest
  • salt as needed
  • water

Ingredients for Garnish

  • 10 almonds, blanched and peeled
  • 10 cashews
  • 20 raisins
  • small handful of pine-nuts
  • 1 tsp. butter


Keeping the skin on the chicken helps keep the meat very moist and tender. You can remove and discard the skin later before eating if you want. But try and cook with the skin on for best results! 🙂

For Garnishing

Heat the butter until it melts, then add the nuts and raisins. Fry in the butter until the raisins are plump. Turn off and set aside to be used later for garnishing.

For Chicken

Heat the oil and butter, then add the onions and fry until they start to turn golden. Add the ginger and garlic tastes, followed by the whole spices. Fry for a minutes, then add the powdered spices, lemon zest, blended tomatoes and tomato puree. Cook these for a few minutes until the tomato mixture thickens, then add the chicken pieces and sprinkle some salt.

Sauté the chicken in the tomato mixture on high heat for 2-3 minutes, then add 4 cups of water. When it starts to simmer, cover and keep the heat on medium, and let this boil for 25 minutes or until the chicken is done.

You can soak your rice whilst the chicken is boiling, for about 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and keep them covered in a bowl. Now measure out the water that is remaining in the pan. You will need 1 and a half cups of broth for every cup of rice, so adjust as needed by adding water to the reach the required amount. (if your rice requires more water per cup than mine does, then adjust as per your experience with the rice you use). Bring to a boil and add the pre-soaked rice and grated carrots if you’re using them. Adjust salt.

Let this cook on high heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring now and then, then reduce the heat to medium and keep cooking it whilst covered until the water diminishes, giving it a stir every now and then to make sure all the rice is cooked evenly and perfectly.

Once you find there is very little water left in the rice, reduce the heat to the lowest point possible. Seal your pan by using a tight lid or wetting a kitchen towel and placing it over the pan then placing a lid on top of it. Leave the rice to continue steaming on very low heat for a good 10 minutes.

In the meantime either shallow fry for a few minutes on each side the chicken pieces that you had set aside, or grill them on a bbq grill or in the oven, just until the color turns nice and golden…for about 5 minutes or so. Do not over-do the frying/grilling as this will dry your chicken out. The chicken is already cooked so you just want a crisp and appealing colored exterior.

Grilling the chicken pieces on a bbq grill tends to give the chicken a lovely ‘Mandi’ aroma. Mandi is a (natively) Yemeni method of making Kabsa whereby the meat is cooked in a special hole in the ground covered with clay like a tandoor that is then covered until the dish is ready. So I prefer to grill my chicken pieces on a bbq grill to get a hint of the authentic mandi kabsa flavor, since (unfortunately) I don’t have a hole in the ground in my back-yard! 😛

Serve the rice and place the chicken pieces on top and garnish with the nuts/raisins, and a bowl of hot n spicy tomato chutney. We love adding some fries as an accompaniment to the meal, but this is entirely optional. Some people like to garnish with boiled eggs.

So whatever takes your fancy, have at it and enjoy!


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