This minimal chicken and rice dish is basically made with 3 ingredients (plus olive oil, salt and pepper), and gives you a delicious crispy skinned chicken on top of fluffy stock infused rice with barely any effort!
What is chicken madhbi?
Chicken Madhbi is a very traditional Yemeni dish of chicken or lamb cooked traditionally over hot stones. It’s a very simple dish, seasoned very minimally and served over a bed of rice.
Traditionally served with dates, tahini, and honey, we kept it very simple here with rice and a green salad.
Madhbi is in the same sort of family as Mandi but even simpler in preparation. If you are looking for a lamb and rice dish, you have to check out this easy lamb mandi.
For a more elaborate Gulf chicken and rice dish, cooked with a tomato sauce and served with toasted nuts and raisins, this chicken kabsa is amazing.
How do you make madhbi?
I’m obviously not cooking this over hot stones, so the way we accomplish the same crispy skinned effect is by:
Cooking the chicken on a high heat: I used 200 C, but you could even go up to 220 C. (400-450F)
Cooking the chicken over a wire rack so that the actual chicken doesn’t come into the contact of something like the bottom of a pan that will cause the skin to steam up. The chicken crisps up on the outside, and remains juicy on the inside.
How to spatchcock a chicken:
The important thing with chicken madhbi, is that the chicken is cut in a certain way. I’m sure your butcher could do this for you, and if they do just ask for them to place the chicken backbone and wing tips in a bag for you to use to make a stock for the rice.
Remove the chickens backbone:
Start off by cutting out the backbone of the chicken by using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. Do this by placing the chicken breast side down firmly on a chopping board so that it kind of breaks apart.
Cut down the right side of the backbone, then cut down the left side of the back bone. Once the backbone has been removed, cut the entire chicken into two halves.
Cut off the wing tips from each side, and reserve those for the stock also. Make three deep slits down the length of each chicken half.
I thought this guide by Jamie Oliver was a really good illustratiotn.g
How to make the simple chicken stock:
Heat oil in a saucepan and once hot, add an onion cut into wedges, plus the backbone and wing tips of the chicken. Let this cook until onion starts to brown, then top up with water. Let it come to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer while you cook the chicken.
If you start the stock earlier, you can let it simmer for longer. We made it simultaneously with the rice. Even 30 minutes will give you rice so much flavor, because the rice will cook in this stock. So many health benefits too!
I have a more traditional and elaborately flavored chicken stock recipe that’s our go to, but this really works for a fast one in a pinch.
Why is this madhbi a dish you should make?
It’s so simple. Even simpler if a butcher helps you prepare the chicken. It comes down to sticking it in the oven, making a simple stock and cooking rice. You can even cook the rice in regular water if you want, it’s just a great opportunity to use the chicken bones for a stock.
It requires a bare minimum of ingredients: Chicken, rice, an onion, salt and pepper. You got yourself a meal!
It’s full of flavor: It actually shocked me how much flavor salt and pepper alone brought out of the chicken. It tasted fabulous! I was a skeptic and. I kept trying to convince my husband to jazz it up a little (he was the leader behind this meal) but he was firm on keeping it minimal, and I’m convinced now!
It’s inifinitely adaptable: If. you do want to add some spices, herbs and aromatics you can definitely switch this up!
What to serve Madhbi with:
I’d go for a simple green salad, yogurt, or a cucumber mint yogurt salad like the one in this post.
How long does Madhbi last:
Like any cooked rice or chicken dish, it’ll last about 3 days in the fridge. I doubt it’ll stick around that long though!
- 1 small chicken 1.1 kg (2.5 pounds)
- salt and pepper
- 1 onion, chopped into rough wedges
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 cups water to make broth
- 2 cups basmati rice, soaked and rinsed
For the chicken:
- Heat oven to 400 F C (200C).
- Spatchcock the chicken by placing the chicken on a cutting board breast side down, and removing the backbone. Use kitchen shears or a very sharp knife to do this. I linked a great article on how to do this in the note section below. After the backbone is removed, cut the whole chicken in half. Cut off the tips of the chicken wings also, and save the backbones and wing tips for making stock.
- Use a meat hammer, and pound on the chicken a little to flatten it out. Make three sharp slits into each chicken half. Salt and pepper the chicken vigorously all over. Place skin side up on a roasting rack in the oven and place the chicken on the rack in the middle of the oven. If you don't have a roasting rack, you can place it directly on the oven rack.
- Place a roasting dish on the bottom rack of the oven and fill it with 1-2 cups of hot water, to create steam and to catch any chicken drippings.
- Cook for 45 minutes or until skin is golden brown and crispy and chicken is cooked through. If using a meat thermometer, it should read 160 F (71C). Let chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it.
For the rice:
- While chicken is in the oven, make the rice. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat and once hot, add the onion wedges, chicken backbone and wing tips. Stir around until onion browns, then add the water. Let it boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and let it simmer while the chicken cooks for 45 minutes. If you start this before the chicken, you can simmer for longer! You can add any aromatics (bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves), but we kept the recipe very straightforward.
- Strain the stock and discard the onion and bones, then add the soaked and drained basmati rice to the stock. Top up with additional water if needed, until water comes about 1 inch above the rice. Season with salt, bring rice to a boil, then once it boils cover with a tight fitting lid. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.
- Remove the rice from the heat, let it stand for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Place rice on serving platter and top with the cooked chicken.
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