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5 from 3 votes

Yemeni Chicken Mandi Recipe | Baked Smoky Chicken & Rice

Learn how to bake authentic slow-cooked Yemeni Chicken Mandi rice infused with smoky flavour at home in your oven.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time1 hr 35 mins
Marinate Time2 hrs
Total Time4 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: arabic, middle eastern, Yemeni
Keyword: arabian mandi biryani, chicken mandi recipe, chicken mandy, Eid lunch, mandi biryani recipe, mandy rice, slow cooked smoky chicken rice, yemeni food recipe
Servings: 3 People
Author: Famidha Ashraf


Saffron brew

  • 3 pinch saffron
  • ¼ cup water warmed

Hawaij spice mix (you will not be using all of this. Store the remaining in a tight jar)

  • 2 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper powder
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons cloves powder or allspice powder
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom powder

For marinade

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon hawaij spice mix
  • salt to taste
  • 900 grams whole chicken with skin cleaned and pat dried

For rice

  • 4 tablespoons oil (mix of any neutral oil with olive oil)
  • 1 large onion finely diced
  • 2 cups basmati rice washed and drained
  • 6 cloves
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 3 to 5 green chillies
  • 3 cups water
  • salt to taste

For smoking

  • 1 piece charcoal
  • 1 teaspoon oil

For garnish

  • 15 almonds blanched, sliced and fried
  • lemon slices

For Zahawiq (Salata Hara)

  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 pinch cumin seeds
  • lemon juice to taste
  • Fresh coriander leaves or mint or parsley
  • salt to taste


Prepare ahead

  • Brew the saffron by soaking it in hot water overnight or at least 2 hours ahead.
    3 pinch saffron, ¼ cup water
  • Prepare the hawaij spice mix by adding all the ingredients to a jar and mixing it thoroughly. Store in an airtight jar. 
    2 tablespoon cumin powder, 1 tablespoon turmeric powder, 1 tablespoon black pepper powder, 2 teaspoons coriander powder, 2 teaspoons cloves powder, 2 teaspoons cardamom powder
  • Make a paste of hawaij, butter or olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Marinate the chicken and refrigerate overnight or at least for an hour. 
    1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon hawaij spice mix, salt to taste, 900 grams whole chicken with skin
  • Soak almonds in hot water, peel, slice, pat dry, fry in oil and keep aside. You may use store-bought sliced almonds.
    15 almonds

Prepare chicken mandi

  • Preheat the oven to 200℃.
  • Heat oil in an oven-friendly wide-mouthed pot on the stovetop.
    4 tablespoons oil
  • Fry the almonds until golden, remove them, and keep them aside for garnish.
  • Add more oil if required and saute the onions until translucent and then switch off the stove.
    1 large onion
  • Add the drained rice, whole spices and raisins, green chillies, water and salt to taste.
    2 cups basmati rice, 6 cloves, 4 green cardamom, 10 black peppercorns, 1 inch cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon raisins, 3 to 5 green chillies, 3 cups water, salt to taste
  • Place a wire rack over the pot or keep the pot under the wire rack in the oven or use a thick foil and cover the rice pot. If using the foil method, make a few holes all over the foil before you place the chicken over it.
  • Place the marinated chicken over the wire or foil. 
  • Keep this on the lower level of the oven and bake for 20 mins. 
  • Reduce the temperature to 150℃ and bake for 1 hour and 30 mins or until the chicken dripping is reduced or stopped. If you use a wire rack, you may stir the rice once during the baking time but with the foil method that is not easy.

Smoke the chicken and rice

  • Remove the chicken and rice from the oven. 
  • Start burning the charcoal piece.
    1 piece charcoal
  • Fluff up the rice, place the chicken on the bed of rice, tuck a few lemon slices, and pour the saffron water all over the rice and chicken. 
    lemon slices
  • Place a foil cup or a small steel bowl inside the rice pot tucked well so that it doesn't topple. Add a splash of oil into the cup. 
    1 teaspoon oil
  • Pick the fully burnt charcoal using tongs and carefully place it into the foil cup - it will start smoking up immediately so cover it with a tight lid or foil and you may also use a kitchen towel to trap the smoke inside. You may also place the chicken and rice back into the oven and do the smoking process inside the oven itself.
  • Let it sit for at least 10 minutes to infuse the smoky flavour to the chicken and rice.

Prepare Zahawiq 

  • Meanwhile, prepare the dip by grinding all the ingredients together and adjusting the flavours as per your taste.
    1 large tomato, 2 garlic cloves, 2 green chillies, 1 pinch cumin seeds, lemon juice, Fresh coriander leaves, salt to taste
  • Serve Yemeni chicken mandi garnished with fried nuts and lemon slices with prepared zahawiq (Salata Hara), yoghurt, and some salad!