Chicken Mandi: Yemeni FavoritesWhen it comes to authentic Yemeni food, there is little more authentic than a hearty dish of Mandi. This delicious dish of rice and meat, cooked perfectly in a pit underground, is a traditional Middle Eastern food specific to parts of Yemen. Here is a recipe for making it at home as nothing this delicious should be missed by the world around:



1 whole chicken, washed, cut into 4 pieces
3T yogurt
1 pinch Saffron
1/4c vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1t smoked paprika
1T vinegar
1T salt
1t ground cardamom
1t ground black pepper
3 cloves of garlic
1t turmeric
1t cinnamon


4c basmati rice, soaked 30 min with 1/2t of salt, then drained
2T ghee
1T oil
4 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 green chili pepper
2T tomato paste
5 pods whole cardamom
1T whole allspice
1t turmeric
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
2 dried lemons
1t whole cloves


Mix the marinade section and refrigerate it 4 hours to overnight. With a food processor, blend the garlic, onion, tomatoes, chili, and tomato paste until smooth. Heat oil and ghee in a deep pot, then cook the following spices until fragrant: cardamom, allspice, turmeric, lemon, bay leaves, cinnamon, and cloves. Add the mixture to the drained rice, stir gently, and add 3 cups of water.

Preheat the oven to 180c. Covering the rice in the pot with foil, poke holes in it and then set it on the top with a metal rack. Place the now marinated chicken on that rice over the rice pot, then cover the chicken with foil so that it all cooks in the oven for 20 minutes. As it dries, add 3 more cups of water to the rice, stir gently, then cover so that the chicken no longer has its foil for another 20 minutes. Once the chicken reaches 160C internally and the rice absorbs all the liquid, reseal the rice and leave it and the chicken covered for another 15 minutes.

Replicating a smoky flavor requires making a small bowl shape of foil or an onion shell. Fill it partially with oil or some other substance, heat some charcoal until red and dip it in the oil, then cover the pot tightly for 10-15 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve it with the chicken on top. Top with friend nuts, raisins, and parsley leaves. Add dagoos tomato sauce and drink laban ayran on the side. While this recipe isn’t exactly a traditional method for creating the dish, it is likely you will notice the traditional flavors in the replication.

Should you not wish to make Mandi at home, seeking out a local Yemeni restaurant will meet your cravings. Not every town will have a Yemeni restaurant, but places like Shibam Yemeni Kitchen are ready to serve you for those nights that you can’t – or don’t want to – cook your favorite dishes at home. Stop in today for a flavor experience like you’ve never had before!

Part of experiencing authentic Yemeni culture is in eating at a Yemeni restaurant. Come to Shibam Yemeni Kitchen to experience Yemeni culture first hand. You can only learn so much about a culture from its history, so find a location near you (locations page) and experience Yemeni culture firsthand.