Hyderabad is famous for its legendary Biryani and the eclectic mix of non-vegetarian offerings that includes some of the best meat dishes from the erstwhile royal kitchens. But in recent times, a fantastic Arabic variation of this majestic dish that has been hogging the attention of rice and meat lovers in and around the city is the Yemeni delicacy Mandi.
The unique thing about this dish is that here the flavoursome meat stock is used for cooking the rice. The separately cooked meat is served on the top of the rice. The dish was introduced to the masses here, by the Arab people residing in the Barakas neighbourhood of the old city and since then it has become quite a sensation in the food circle all over Hyderabad. So in this episode let’s explore the Mandi and find out how it looks and tastes and is prepared.
Mandi is traditionally served in a community-style where a group of people share the dish from a single huge Thali. Hence the blissful experience is heightened not just by the yummy spread but also by the pleasant connection that happens over it.
Sankalp Bhai took us to the Yum Yum Tree restaurant to taste the most scrumptious Mandi. The ambience was similar to the traditional Arabian setting where a meal is served on low tools and people sit around it, on the floor to relish the food. We meet chef Ahmed who explained to us how Mandi is prepared and served. The cooking style is very different from other rice and meat dishes.
After this informative conversation, we sat down to try this fantastic Yemeni dish. The huge thali had a neat bed of aromatic and flavourful Mandi rice. It was topped with curried mutton pieces, a roasted chicken leg and a deep-fried fish fillet. The garnish of fried onions and nuts, sliced cucumber and fresh coriander made it more appetising. The thali also had three tasty accompaniments-chicken curries, salad and thin spicy tomato chutney. It was flavourful, delicious, rich and light on the palate, fragrant and satisfying. The enormous portion can easily feed three to four people.
Then came the dessert platter where there was this traditional middle eastern semolina cake Basbousa and the super innovative oreo paan. We finished the feast with a cup of hot and ambrosial Sulemani chai. Getting introduced to this impressive Arabian delicacy was a fine experience. If you are a meat lover and happen to be in town then do try this unique dish and experience its amazing taste. We thank chef Ahmed and Sankalp Bhai, a food aficionado and our host, for their cooperation and insights.