My Mandi Biryani – Middle Eastern spiced chicken and rice. Traditionally baked in an oven like the Indian tandoor the meat is cooked over the rice so it absorbs the cooking juices. Like an Indian Biryani a Mandi consists of fragrant spice infused rice. A Mandi is flavoured with a spice mix called Hawaiij. This is a blend of cumin, turmeric, coriander, cardamom and black pepper. It is used in soups, stews, casseroles and even coffee.
In my version I have used spiced marinated chicken thighs instead of a more classic whole chicken. Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of chicken thighs and the dish cooks quicker with smaller cuts of meat. I have used a curry powder but you can mix your own spices as you prefer. If you have any left overs you can shred the chicken and toss with a little extra fresh coriander and lime juice. Then serve with the remaining rice and minted cucumber yogurt as a tasty salad.
Helping spread some goodwill with Caring Cooks
” If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him.
The people who give you their food give you their heart “
Since being honoured to be asked to help support the terrific local Jersey charity Caring Cooks I’ve been looking for something to really get my teeth into. Sorry I couldn’t resist that one. And in Jersey like the rest of the British Isles we have an increasing number of people and families struggling with food poverty. So I am creating some costed recipes for Caring Cooks with the aim to cook a little extra to share. This can be with someone you know who maybe struggling or just a single neighbour or elderly relative. I would encourage anyone who can cook to think about those less fortunate and try to help.
Good food is all about sharing and sometimes it’s great to stop and remember that. I really think good food not just about what you eat it’s about the people you eat with. My Mandi Biryani should help bring a smile to anyone’s face. The recipe is generous enough to comfortably feed eight even more if you serve some of it as a salad with some grated carrot, beetroot, egg and the left over minted cucumber yogurt.
My Mandi Biryani Step-by-step guide
Flavouring the chicken
First I cook the chicken thighs skin side down to colour them and render the fat. I then brush them with a marinade. To flavour my chicken I use a paste of curry powder, garlic and oil. You can make your own spice mix if you prefer.
Starting to cook the rice
Then I sauté the onions without colouring in the chicken fat. This adds a wonderful flavour. I then add the garlic and spices before the stock. Finally I stir in the sultanas and almonds and pour into an oven proof dish.
Cooking the Biryani
Next I place the chicken pieces on top of the rice and carefully transfer to the oven. as the rice cooks in the fragrant stock it also absorbs any juices from the chicken thighs.
Mandi Biryani Costings
There are a few spices in this recipe. I have tried to cut back by using a curry powder to lower the costs but if you have to buy spice remember they will make more than one meal. Like most ingredients spices are cheaper in bulk but only buy larger packs if you think you will use them quickly. Spices deteriorate with age and lose their fragrant essential oils and can turn bitter.
These costing are from my local Jersey supermarket in April 2023 In most cases I have used a branded product but I happily use own labels which will reduce the price. Buying rice, vegetables and spices in bulk will reduce costs further. Total costs for the dish are £12.52 excluding the minted cucumber yogurt. Serving eight people that is £1.56 per portion for an incredibly tasty dish.
1.2 kg Chicken £4.40, 700 gr Long grain Rice £1.25, 300 ml Vegetable Oil £0.77, 3 medium White Onions £1.25, 6 cloves Garlic £0.69, 50 gr Flaked Almonds £0.77, 50 gr Sultanas £0.25, 20 gr Curry Powder £0.49, 1 teaspoon ground Turmeric £0.12, 6 whole Cardamom Pods 0.30, 3 large Bay Leaves £0.15, 1 Cinnamon Stick £0.30, 2 quality Chicken Stock Cubes £0.35, 1 Lime £0.49, 1 small bunch fresh Coriander £0.79, Sea salt and freshly ground pepper £0.15
Chicken Mandi Biryani
- A large oven-proof dish
- A Large heavy-bottomed Frying Pan
- 1.2 kilo Chicken Thighs
- 700 gr Long grain Rice washed and drained
- 300 ml Vegetable Oil
- 3 medium White Onions peeled and very finely diced
- 6 cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
- 50 gr Flaked Almonds
- 50 gr Sultanas
- 20 gr Medium Curry Powder
- 1 teaspoon ground Turmeric
- 6 whole Cardamom Pods
- 3 large Bay Leaves
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 2 quality Chicken Stock Cubes
- 1 Lime
- 1 small bunch fresh Coriander chopped
- Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
- Heat one third of the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan and add the chicken thighs skin side down. Cook until golden brown and carefully remove.
- Add the onion to the pan and slowly cook without colouring until soft.
- While the onion is cooking mix the remaining oil with half of the curry powder and garlic and season generously. Brush this all over the chicken pieces.
- When the onion is soft add the garlic and all of the spices and cook out for a couple of minutes stirring continuously.
- Boil a kettle of freshly drawn water and dissolve the stock cubes in one litre of water.
- Add the rice to the onion and spices and stir to coat all of the rice grains in the spice mix. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Add the sultanas and almond and stir.
- Carefully transfer the rice to your casserole or oven-proof dish and top with the chicken skin side upwards.
- Place into the oven and bake for fort-five minutes until the rice is cooked and has soaked up all the stock.
- Remove the chicken to a warm plate and allow to rest while you fluff up the rice with a fork and mix in the freshly chopped coriander. Check the seasoning.
- Serve with extra chopped coriander and a fresh squeeze of lime juice.
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