Let’s start this New Year with a lovely rice recipe made with my favourite basmati rice. Mandhi or mandi, is rice cooked with either chicken or lamb and a special blend of spices. The dish is originally from Yemen but is now popular in other countries with Arab influence. In Kenya, it is a favourite at the Coast and is served in specialty restaurants around the country. Traditionally, the meat is slow cooked in a tandoor, a cylindrical clay or metal oven built into the ground. The chicken is suspended over the rice so the juices from the chicken can flavour the rice. For our modified recipe today, we will use a baking tray, greaseproof paper and a regular oven.
What you will need:1 whole capon about 1.3kgs 1/4 cup vinegar 1 tablespoon hot sauce 1 teaspoon black pepper 1 teaspoon garlic ginger paste 1 teaspoon paprika Juice of 1 lemon Salt to taste 1 cup basmati rice 2 cups water 1/2 teaspoon yellow food colour Greaseproof paper or foil
What to do:In a pan over medium heat, add the water, rice and some salt. Bring to a boil until all the water is evaporated and rice is nice and fluffy.
Put a tablespoon of water on the yellow food colour and sprinkle the colour over the rice. Let it cook for another 3 minutes then fluff up the rice.
Meanwhile, put the whole chicken or capon on a baking tray. Sprinkle some salt, black pepper and garlic ginger paste and spread it all over the chicken.
Add the hot sauce, lemon juice and vinegar and massage the chicken with your hands, ensuring that the marinade is distributed all over.
Remove the chicken from the baking tray and set aside. Pour the rice on the same baking tray so that flavours from the marinade infuse well with the rice. Take a piece of greaseproof paper or foil paper and place it over the rice and then place the chicken on top of the paper, ensuring you have covered the rice completely so that the rice won’t get direct heat.
Take a knife and prick the greaseproof paper so that when the chicken roasts, the flavours seep into the rice and further flavour the rice.
Place the lemon pieces beside the chicken then bake at 200°C for about 1 hour or until the chicken has browned. Be sure to turn the chicken after about 40 minutes so that it gets a golden crust on both sides.
Once cooked, remove the chicken and dispose the greaseproof paper. Fluff up the rice that is super flavored with all the juices from the chicken and serve beside the chicken on a platter. If you could travel back in time, who would you want to meet?