Lamb Mandi is Arabian fragrant rice with meat and is traditionally served during special events such as weddings, Eid al-Fitr, and family feasts. This dish is composed of vibrant, aromatic rice with meat that is so tender it falls off the bone with just a gentle tug. It is usually served with mild chilli sauce, cucumber-yoghurt salad and clear soup.
What is Lamb Mandi?
Mandi or also called Kuzhi Manthi is a type of biryani dish served with meat that is either chicken or lamb and rice with a unique blend of spices. Traditionally, it is cooked in an underground pit called tandoor oven (taboon in Arabic). Thus, it is typically cooked slowly over a long period.
This dish is prevalent in most areas of the Arabian Peninsula and is even considered a staple dish in many regions such as Egypt and Turkey. It is served with a cucumber-yoghurt salad with zahawig sauce, a simple condiment made with tomato, cilantro, garlic, cumin, basil, mint, jalapeno, and coriander.
The meat that is usually used in this dish is a young and small-sized lamb as the meat enhances the taste. The meat is cooked in a tandoor oven. The tandoor is a hole that is dug in the ground, and the inside is covered with clay. Dry wood is placed in the tandoor and burned until it becomes charcoal. The meat is boiled with a mixture of spices until tender. Once tender, the meat is then suspended inside the tandoor above the rice.
The meat broth is used for cooking the Basmati rice at the bottom of the tandoor. Raisins, pine nuts, or peanuts can be added to the rice for extra flavour. After that, the tandoor is closed with clay, and the air vent is created to remove excess smoke. This process of cooking can take up to 8 hours to produce this delicious and tasty meat dish. Now, there is an easy way to cook it at home by using a conventional oven.
History of Lamb Mandi
Mandi is a traditional Yemen dish, from the Hadhramaut region. The word ‘mandi’ is derived from the Arabic word nada, which means ‘dew’ referring to the moist ‘dewy’ texture of the meat. This dish has been passed down through generations and is very popular in the Arabian Peninsula and Asia. This dish became well-known in Malaysia along with various Arabic cuisines due to the surge of Arabian restaurants in the ‘90s.
Differences between Mandi, Kabsa, and Biryani
People are usually confused between these three rice and meat dishes. There are many similarities between them and yet there are subtle differences. As stated earlier, Mandi is a traditional Yemen dish and is cooked in a tandoor oven. Its rice is yellowish due to the saffron spices in the recipe. It is usually served with cucumber-yoghurt salad and clear soup.
Meanwhile, Kabsa is a traditional national dish of Saudi Arabia. Its rice is brownish due to the meat broth, which contains tomato paste and chillies. All the ingredients are cooked layer by layer in the same pot on a stove. It is usually served with cucumber-yoghurt salad or a green salad.
Biryani is a popular Indian spicy rice dish served with meat. It originated from Muslims of the Indian subcontinent and is quite similar to the Kabsa dish. Most biryani rice usually accompanied with korma, curry, boiled egg and salad. In Malaysia, biryani rice is served with ‘achar’, a combination of pickled cucumbers, onions, red chillies and pineapple.
Where to find Lamb Mandi in Malaysia
Lamb mandi is a famous Arabic food that can be found in all Arabic restaurants in Malaysia. You can get Lamb Mandi rice from Bait Al Mandi Restaurant (Puchong).
Find more Malay cuisine on foodpanda!