Saturday, August 13, 2016

Mandi, The best Arabic cuisine!

I believe I've eaten enough Chicken Mandi for me to back this title up, and comparing it to most Arabic cuisines I've tried which are mostly simple grilled meat with bread, Mandi truly is the best, more on this after the break.

I can still remember the time I had my first Mandi and having no idea what it was, surprised me seeing the glistening chicken on top of a mound of rice with soup, some greens like cucumber or arugula, and tomato chatni (Arabic ketchup) on the side, thinking this is too much for a single person, but then I dug in and learned it isn't.

Now if you're like me and had no idea what a Mandi is, in my own words, it's a meat marinated in a special sauce then roasted and before served is flash fried, well that's how it tastes to me but here's the official description cited from Wikipedia.

Mandi (Arabic: المندي‎‎) is a traditional Yemeni dish from Hadhramaut, Yemen. The word "mandi" comes from the Arabic word nada, meaning "dew", and reflects the moist 'dewy' texture of the meat.
Mandi is usually made from rice, meat (lamb or chicken), and a mixture of spices. The meat used is usually a young and small sized lamb to enhance the taste further. The main thing which differentiates Mandi from other meat dishes is that the meat is cooked in the tandoor (taboon in Hadhrami), which is a special kind of oven.

As mentioned above there are Mandis other than chicken, and personally I've tried mutton, lamb, fish, and even camel but none beats the savoriness of chicken.

Below you'll see the different Mandis served depending on the restaurant you go to and if you're living in UAE or planning to visit, I've hyperlinked the name of the restaurants with Zomato so it'll be convenient for you to visit them.

Bait Al Mandi - this is where I first tried Mandi and for the longest time ate here not wanting to risk ordering at other resto and get disappointed. They have several branches across UAE making me think they are the most popular restaurant that serves this.


Madfoon Al Khaimah - we always see this restaurant since it's near our flat but never tried going inside because there's not a single English word outside their restaurant. Until we did one day and after trying their mandi, I can say without a doubt that they serve the BEST chicken mandi I've had so far. The reasoning behind this is because of the rice they paired with it with, it isn't dry or have varying types of rice used, it's looks simple like a flavored steamed rice and yet it compliments the mandi perfectly.

Wadi Raidan Mandi - really had high expectations for this one since they have multiple branches and one is located on a main road which for me means they're selling a lot to be able to afford it. We went to their Sharjah branch, had our meal and came out disappointed, the chicken mandi and rice was dry, and everyone unanimously said "we're not coming back here".

Ahlan Wa Marhaba - this is quite far away, found in Al Ain we got the chance to eat here after visiting the Zoo and headed to the Museum. Their chicken mandi is so juicy it falls of the bones, the rice paired is okay and probably the largest serving I've had. A definite must try if you happen to visit Al Ain.

Al Ajwad Feast - found in Ajman, the ambience of this feels like a modern Arabic diner and their chicken mandi is without a doubt the most tender out there, it was probably boiled or steamed because literally, the only thing you'll throw away are bones. The ligaments and the white part found in the breast are all edible and flavourful but not everything is perfect because their tomato chatni is blandest. Wish we could've dined in but took our orders the hotel and ate there.

              Was too hungry to take a picture of the mandi, will change this once I dined in there.

Tripoli - the name seems misleading but they do serve mandi. We were staying on a nearby hotel in Abu Dhabi and didn't want to eat there so searched for this place. Their chicken mandi is good but what's unique here is they've let me change the rice from the typical mandi one to a bukhari rice changing things up. The highlight of the meal was the soup, most serve mutton broth, here it's a lentil soup, and you can have as much as you want.

Al Madaen Restaurant - we saw some fliers lying around and noticed the mandi in this place was only 16 dirhams so we tried it. They plated the mandi like any rice and viand meal which is different, chicken was good, crispy skin, oily rice. Most affordable mandi we've had. Unfortunately they closed down or hopefully I'm wrong and they are renovating.

I'll go over more on the other restaurants we've tried but for now this list is long enough and should get you started on your Chicken Mandi journey.

It is not an exaggeration to say that chicken mandi is the best Arabic cuisine. It's something everyone can eat be it my mother who don't like spicy dishes, my wife who don't like Arabic food or my 11 month year old son who puts anything in his mouth.

Try other mandi if you feel adventurous with your food but if you want to stay on the safe side, you can't go wrong with an order of Chicken Mandi.

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