Skip to content

Aromatic Yemen: Unveiling the Classic Chicken Mandi

Chicken Mandi, a classic Yemeni dish, is a flavourful symphony of spices. The Chicken is marinated in a robust blend of aromatics and roasted in an oven—a simple and more accessible approach to a traditional tandoor method. This ensures a delightfully crisp exterior while preserving the chicken’s juicy interior.

The chicken is served on a bed of fragrant rice infused with cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns, and a hint of dried limes. Each fluffy bite beautifully complements the spiced chicken. Dakoos sauce, a vibrant blend of tomatoes, herbs, and spices, graces the plate, adding another layer of flavour to this already delightful dish.

This oven-roasted Chicken Mandi is a hearty and flavorful experience, highlighting the essential role that spices and meticulous preparation play in Middle Eastern cuisine. Try making this chicken mandi and allow your taste buds to travel.

Basic Ingredients for Chicken Mandi

Chicken Marinade:

Whole Chicken Legs: The main protein source, providing richness and depth to the dish.

Salt: Enhances the flavour of the chicken.

Butter: Adds moisture and richness, helping the spices adhere to the chicken.

Mandi Spice Mix: A blend of spices that imparts the signature flavour of the dish.

Ground Saffron: Offers a unique aroma and imparts a golden colour to the chicken.

Lemon Juice: Adds acidity, tenderising the chicken and brightening its flavours.


Long Grain Rice: Serves as the base of the dish, absorbing flavours from the spices and broth.

Onion: Adds sweetness and depth when sautéed.

Butter: Used for sautéing, it enhances the flavour of the rice.

Cardamom Pods, Whole Cloves, Black Peppercorns, Cinnamon Stick: These spices infuse the rice with traditional Mandi flavours.

Green Chillies & Dried Limes: Introduce a tangy and spicy profile to the rice.

Bay Leaves: Add a subtle layer of flavour.

Water: The cooking medium for the rice, absorbing all the aromatics and spices.


Tomatoes, Garlic, Green Chillies: The base for the sauce, providing a spicy and tangy flavour.

Parsley & Coriander: Add freshness and a herbal note to the sauce.


Onions: Offer a sweet crunchiness when fried.

Vegetable Oil: Used for frying the onions and almonds.

Almonds & Yellow Raisins: Add texture and a nutty, sweet contrast to the dish.


  • Substitute for lamb shoulder.
  • Use olive oil instead of butter for a healthier option.
  • Replace mandi spice mix with a blend of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and paprika.

Preparation Tips Chicken Mandi

  • Ensure the chicken is thoroughly coated with the marinade for flavour penetration.
  • Sauté spices before adding rice to release their oils and enhance flavours.
  • Soaking the rice reduces cooking time and ensures even cooking.

Serving Tips Chicken Mandi

  • Present the rice as a base, topped with chicken, and sprinkle the garnishes evenly.
  • Offer the Dakoos sauce on the side or drizzle over the chicken.

Storage Tips

  • Store leftovers in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
  • Chicken and rice can be stored separately to maintain texture.
  • Reheat portions gently, adding a little water to the rice if dry.

Classic Chicken Mandi

Servings: 8 persons
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Marinating Time: 1 hour


Chicken Marinade

  • 1 kg whole chicken legs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp mandi spice mix
  • a pinch ground saffron
  • ½ lemon, juiced


  • 4 cups long grain rice
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 green chillis
  • 2 dried limes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups water
  • a pinch saffron

Dakoos(Tomato Sauce for Mandi)

  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 green chillis
  • a handful parsley
  • a handful coriander
  • salt, to taste


  • 4-5 onions, finely sliced
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup yellow raisins


  • Season the chicken with salt. Mix all ingredients together. Coat the chicken evenly and marinate for 1 hour or overnight. Preheat the oven to 230°C. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes, then lower it to 180°C and continue for 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes. Drain. Bloom saffron in a few tablespoons of water. In a pot, melt butter and sauté onions until translucent. Add cardamon pods, whole cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon stick, whole chillies, dried lime and bay leaf, and stir.
  • Add rice, water, saffron water and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to medium heat, and cook for 30 minutes. For a smoked flavour, heat coal until red, place it in a foil ball on the rice and cover for 10 minutes. Remove the coal.
  • In a pan, fry almonds in oil until golden and set aside. Fry onions until crispy.
  • To prepare the dakoos sauce, blend tomatoes, garlic, chillies, parsley, coriander, and salt until pureed. Set aside.
  • Serve rice on a platter, top with chicken, and garnish with onions, almonds, and raisins. Serve with dakoos sauce.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @cookingwithzahra on Instagram and hashtag it #cookingwithzahra so we can see all the deliciousness!

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

Get new recipes, meal planners, and creative entertaining ideas