Laham Mandi (Meat Mandi)

Servings : Serves 4-5

Mandi is an intensely flavourful, smoky and aromatic Yemeni/Arabic meal comprising mainly of rice that is topped with either meat, chicken or fish. This recipe is for the meat version, specifically tender mutton/lamb meat but you may substitute it with goat meat. For a chicken version, click HERE.

Ingredients for Mandi Spice

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 1 tsp whole black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 pinch of saffron threads
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp paprika powder

Meat Ingredients

  • 1 kg lamb/mutton or goat meat, cut into large pieces
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp mandi spice
  • water, as needed to boil the meat
  • salt, as needed

Rice Ingredients

  • 3 cups long grain basmati rice
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp mandi spice
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • stock, as needed
  • salt to taste
  • 1 loomi/dried lime (or 1/2 tsp lime zest)
  • 1 piece of coal for smoking the meal

Basting Ingredients

  • 2 tsp mandi spice
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 3-4 tbsp oil or melted butter


Making the Mandi Spice:

Roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, green cardamoms, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and dried red chillies. Turn off the heat and add in the ginger powder, saffron, grated nutmeg, paprika and turmeric. Grind into a fine powder and store to use as needed. Any left over spice can be stored in an airtight container for the next use.

Cooking the Laham/Meat:

Put the meat in a pan, preferably a pressure cooker, cover with water and add the meat ingredients (salt, mandi spice, ginger and garlic paste). Bring to a simmer and skim off any foam, then cover and cook until the meat is tender. In a pressure cooker this should take about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the meat cuts and how young the lamb/goat is. It will take longer in an open pan, just keep an eye on it and check regularly.

Once done, carefully remove the meat pieces and set them aside on a tray to cool down. In the meantime, save the stock to cook the rice in.

Cooking the Rice:

Wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes. In a large pan, heat the oil and add the chopped onions. Saute until aromatic and translucent. Next add the garlic paste. Then add 2 tbsp of mandi spice and stir until well combined and aromatic.

Add the stock reserved from having cooked the meat. You will need 1 and a half cups of liquid for each cup of rice. Adjust by adding water if the stock you have is less than what you need and then remember to taste/adjust for salt. Also add the loomi (dried lime) or zest at this stage.

Bring to a simmer and then add in the rice. Cook over medium low heat giving an occasional stir until almost all the water is gone. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and place on very low heat to continue steaming for about 15 minutes.

Basting the Laham/Meat:

Mix the butter/oil with all the other basting ingredients and stir well to combine. Brush this sauce all over the meat pieces, ensuring every inch of meat is well coated. Place the tray of basted meat under a very hot grill to get a crisp outer coating and a nice golden brown colour to the meat. This should take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, but keep an eye on the meat to ensure it does not burn.

Once the rice is done, open the pan and fluff up the rice gently. Place the meat pieces on top. Light a coal and place it on a piece of foil right in the centre of the dish. Drizzle a few drops of oil onto the lit coal and quickly cover the pan as it begins to smoke. Allow the smoke to infuse the meal for about 5 minutes or longer for more intensity. Then open the pan and discard the coal. Serve the meal on a large platter with the meat pieces on top.

The meal goes well with a sauce of some kind, like salata hara or tomato chutney. You may garnish with roasted slivered almonds or raisins if you like. Or even served as it is, the meal is hearty and delicious.


Leave a Reply