Baked Chicken Mandi with spicy chutneys

Mandi is a Yemen’s dish cooked for a crowd on special occasions, but you do not need any special occasion to cook this. This can easy replace biryani in your party menu. With less prep work and long cooking hours, this will give you that extra time needed for last minute clean up and starters.

Traditional chicken is cooked in tandoor on top of pot with uncooked rice. The fat and flavours dripping down on the rice as the chicken cooks, is what gives rice of mandi that distinctive favour. Long cooking hour gives this rice meat combo that dewy texture.

I wanted to experiment with a full chicken, tandoori and roast was the obvious option. But for a lunch the thought of cooking sides – naan/roti/rice variety – set me back. Well these made me explore other options. This combo of cooking chicken and rice in a one pot style set me up to give it a try. I used normal oven to give that tandoori effect.

The main flavor is from the Yemen’s spice mix and saffron used in rice, yes they are expensive but gives this simple dish its distinctive flavor.


Chicken marinate

  • Full Chicken with skin -1.1kg
  • Yemen’s spice – 2-3 Tbsp
  • Lemon juice – juice of 1/2
  • Olive oil – 5-6 Tbsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt – 2 tsp

Yemen’s spice

  • Cumin – 1Tbsp
  • Coriander seed/powder – 1Tbsp
  • Black pepper – 1Tbsp
  • Cardamom – 6-7
  • Cinnamon – 2″ x 2
  • Clove – 7-8
  • Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric – 1/2 tsp


  • Basmati rice – 3.5 cup
  • Water – 7 cup
  • Ghee -3-4 Tbsp
  • Onion – 1 big chopped fine
  • Green chilli – 3-4
  • Black pepper – 10 whole
  • Bay leaf -2
  • Cardamom – 3-4
  • Cinnamon – 2″
  • Clove – 3-4
  • Yemen’s spice – 1 Tbsp
  • Dry ginger – 2″ powdered
  • Lemon – juice of one
  • Saffron – pinch around 10-12 strand
  • Dry fruits – almond, raisin, cashew
  • Onion – 1 big thinly lengthwise to fry

Tomato chutney

  • Tomato – 2
  • Garlic – 2-3 clove
  • Green chilli – 2
  • Olive oil – 2 Tbsp
  • Cumin – pinch roasted
  • Ice cold water – 1 to 1/2 cup
  • Salt

Green chutney

  • Coriander leave – 1 cup
  • Garlic – 2-3 clove
  • Green chilli – 2-3
  • Olive oil – 2 Tbsp
  • Cumin – pinch roasted
  • Lemon juice – juice of 1/2
  • Salt

Spiced curd

  • Hung curd – 1 cup
  • Yemen’s spice
  • Salt

How to..

Day 1

  1. Dry roast all spices under Yemen’s spice excluding powders. Once they turn fragrant switch off the flame and powders and in that heat just saute them. Powders will burn while the spices will not be roasted if you add them together.
  2. Once they cool grind to powder. Store them in air tight container. Any left over masala can be added to Arabic chicken preparation (shawarma, alfham, tandoori) or even Spice curd.
  3. Clean and pay dry the chicken, including cavity. This helps the spice to stick on well.
  4. Mix all ingredients in chicken marinate. Increase the oil quantity of you think the batter is thick.
  5. Run your finger between skin of chicken and flesh and spread at least half the marinate here.
  6. Nicely marinate inside and outside well. You can even try squeeze and break few rib bones – without losing out on the shape.
  7. Tie legs and the wings making sure wings point in. Wings have tendency to burn fast, so make sure you tuck it in.
  8. I placed it in the same pan I had planned to cook rice.
  9. Marinate over night or at least 5-6 hrs

Day 2

  1. Make sure the pan your going to cook is wide enough to hold the tied chicken, but small enough to fit in oven. Take into consideration the handle. No plastic or melting components on the pot.
  2. I cooked my rice quantity in two pots, as mine wasn’t big enough to hold 3.5 cup rice. Made sure you use double the amount of water to rice ratio, if you decide to split cooking.
  3. Wash basmati rice. You needed soak them, long cooking hour will do the job.
  4. In pan heat ghee and add shivered almond saute followed by cashew. When cashew is almost done add raisins. Once they puff up switch off the flame and save it for final garnish.
  5. Saute the chopped onion in same ghee(add little oil of needed) till it starts to brown.
  6. Add whole pepper and saute add rest of spices. Once they turn fragrant add in measured water, dry ginger powder, lemon juice, salt and rice. The water mixer should taste a little salty.
  7. Soak saffron in 1/4 cup hot water.
  8. Keep the marinated chicken(breast side facing up) on a rack or lid that has holes. Stuff a half lemon in cavity. This makes sure the steam from inside gets released. Drips from chicken should flavor the rice and chicken should roast without touching water.
  9. Cover the entire pot chicken setup with aluminum foil. Making sure the steam isn’t lost.
  10. Cook this in oven @160C for an hour.
  11. Remove the foil and continue to cook again for 20-30 mins.
  12. Chickens skin might not have browned now. So increase temp to 190-200C and cook open for another 10 mins till chicken is nicely brown.
  13. Check if the chicken is cooked by inserting knife into the join between leg and body. The juice should run clean.
  14. Turn the chicken over and cook at high temp for 10 more mins.
  15. All this while rice has been with the chicken in oven, take it out and check if there is any moister. Cook it over stove if it has any liquid left till it dries. Add saffron at this point.
  16. If your cooking any portion of rice separately. Just add double amount water to rice, pinch of turmeric and salt to make the water taste salty. And cook rice till just done. Use fork to fluff it.
  17. Finally combine all the rice together(use fork or hand) and place the cooked chicken on top. Garnish with fried dry fruits and onion (can do this while Mandi cooks).
  18. Burn coal (coconut shell chars up well) and place it a small metallic vessel or folded aluminum foil(left over from wrapping) will also do. Pour oil or ghee on top of coal this will release smoke. Keep this setup inside pan with mixed rice and chicken and cover it with lid(foil) , making sure that none of the smoke escapes. Keep this for 10 mins or more will make sure that Mandi has a smokey flavor.
  19. Squeeze the juice of lemon placed in chicken cavity over chicken and rice before serving.
  20. Most of the cooking process happens in oven with little supervision, giving you enough time to get the chutneys ready.
  21. Chutney is prepared by grinding all ingredients together. Starting with green chutney.


  • You could use smaller pieces for this, but try using it with skin. The fat between skin and flesh adds flavor. Also prevents from losing moister. Keeps the chicken dewy.
  • Inside of the chicken will be cooked but not spicy and these spicy chutneys will give that missing kick. You could even make slits on chicken and marinate it.
  • You could replace dry ginger with fresh.
  • Authentic recipe calls for dry lemon to be added as whole while cooking rice. I didn’t have one, so just left the left over from squeezing out juice in rice.
  • It will be less heavy and spicy than biryani.

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