Tonight, in an attempt to avoid traffic once again we decided to stop off at a Mendi restuarant. Chicken mandi is one of my most favourite Arabic dishes. So, it was my choice. I was first introduced to this delicious meal when I first visited the UAE last year but it was my first in house experience. Mandi is a traditional Yemenis dish but it is now very popular in the rest of the arabian peninsula. Mandi is made from rice, meat (lamb or chicken), and a mixture of spices. A single serving can easily feed two people. I usually eat it in separate servings because I can’t finish it all at once. Tonight, surprisingly, I finished my whole meal!
The word mandi comes from the Arabic word nada, meaning dew, and reflects the moist dewy texture of the meat. Tasty, tender and tantalizing!
Today we decided to sit down and dine like the Arabs do. The concept of most Yemeni restaurants is that each group of diners get a private room or a cubicle to sit on the floor and eat a Mandi dish with their bare hands. You usually take your shoes off before you walk on the cubicle carpet, sit down and wait for your meal. I personally enjoyed it because it reminded me of lunch at my Aunty’s house back in South Africa. They do have table and chair options as well. It also provides a curtain that can be curtained off for families and ladies in niqab. Definately something to consider for South Africa.
Chicken soup is served as a starter and I have reason to believe it is to prepare your tummy for what’s to come. It’s a basic but very tasty soup.
The best way to eat mandi is with your hands! People who are not exposed to the culture of eating with your bare hands might find it daunting to try to eat such a dish without cutlery, but it is really easy. All you have to do is tear a piece of the chicken and then scoop some rice with your hand, mix in a little tomatoe salad and yoghurt and have them together! Tried and tested!
I am fascinated by the way this meal is prepared. The main thing which differentiates mandi from other meat dishes is that the meat is cooked in the tandoor, which is a special kind of oven. The tandoor is usually a hole dug in the ground and covered inside by clay. To cook mandi, dry wood is placed in the tandoor and burned to generate a lot of heat turning into charcoal. Then the meat is suspended inside the tandoor without touching the charcoal. After that, the whole tandoor is closed without letting any of the smoke out. Raisins, pine nuts, or peanuts can be added to the rice as per one’s taste. Definately leaving this to the professionals.
After our meal we sat back and relaxed while deciding whether or not to order dessert. From these pictures you can see we were filled to the brim! So, we decided better not!
Mandi is considered the main dish served during special events, such as eid, weddings, and feasts. Invite me anytime! It is truly a refreshing experience for the palate. The quantity is appreciable and the condiments and extras really do complement the dish. I think chicken mandi is much more delicious than chicken biryani. I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking to try new cuisine. #YemenisCuisine
What are your favourite dishes? And what would you recommend I try. Comment in the section below to let know.
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