A traditional, and very easy, one pot spiced rice dish lamb popular in the Gulf area of the Middle East. This is probably the easiest preparation you’ll see of lamb Mandi, and it gives you great results- fluffy rice cooked at the same time as tender pull apart lamb shoulder, simple, just a little bit exotic and plenty delicious!
What is Lamb Mandi?
A very traditional dish, consisting very simply of rice and meat. No veggies in sight- making this very popular with my kids! Mandi is a preparation of lamb (or chicken) and rice, specifically where the method of cooking ensures that the juices of the cooking meat drip into the rice. Because of this, you barely need to season the rice, it gets so much flavor from the delicious meat.
What’s the difference between Mandi and Kabsa?
Technically, Mandi is usually cooked by being smoked in a special tandoori oven (an actual pit dug in the ground, covered with clay). I obviously didn’t make this recipe in a traditional manner, but I retained the concept of having the rice cook in the juices of the meat.
Kabsa is usually cooked more simply, with the rice and protein cooking separately, but is often a little more elaborate in its spices and accompaniments. I have a great recipe for chicken kabsa on this site!
The ingredients in Mandi:
You’ll find a lot of different preparations and ingredients, some with very lengthy and exotic spice lists. I kept this super simple, and it worked.
Rice: long grain basmati rice
Spices for the rice: cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, bay leaves, salt
Olive Oil: to drizzle the rice with
Lamb: We’ve tried this with lamb thigh and shoulder, but preferred the shoulder, finding it more tender.
Spices for the lamb: Kept it so simple. Cumin and coriander, salt and pepper. That’s it!
How to cook an easy Lamb Mandi?
In order to accomplish the mechanism in which the juices of the meat can reach the rice while the rice and lamb cook together, there are special pots they sell called Mandi pots. Basically, a form of nesting pots, where the top nesting layer has holes cut into the pan (where the meat is placed to cook), and the bottom layer is where you cook the rice, where it’ll catch all the lamb juices. It looks something like this.
Did I use a Mandi pot? Nope! I made my own. You just take a regular oven safe pot (after placing your rice mixture in it) and place a tight layer of foil over it, twisting the aluminum foil around the edges of the pot. I included a very low resolution video for your help:
After the foil is placed on top, I stab holes in it with a skewer. There! A Mandi pots!
How to garnish Mandi:
I like to top my mandi with toasted pine nuts and almond slivers, and toasted golden raisins that become caramelised and add a tiny hint of smoky sweetness to the dish. The full method on toasting pine nuts and raisins can be found in this post.
Fresh herbs add a pop of colour, feel free to use coriander or parsley.
What to serve Lamb Mandi with:
I like a simple green salad, as well as yogurt with dried mint. You can also make a yogurt salad with cucumbers, like the one in this recipe.
- 3 cups long grain basmati rice, soaked and rinsed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 whole cardamom pods
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1 dried lemon (lumee) if you have it
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4.5 cups water
- 1.5 kg lamb shoulder with bone, trimmed of fat
- salt to season
- pepper to season
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- Heat oven to 220 C.
- To a large, oven safe pot, add the rice, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, bay leaves, and dried lemon if using. Drizzle the olive oil on top of the rice in the pot. Pour water on top of the rice.
- Cover the pan tightly with foil, creasing the eges of the foil around the pan to ensure a tight fit, and stab the foil evenly with a skewer to get a distribution of holes in the foil.
- Season the lamb shoulder all over with salt, pepper, cumin powder and coriander, and massage the spices into the meat. Place the spiced meat on top of the foil covering the rice. Place a piece of parchment paper over the meat, then cover tightly with more aluminum foil so you have a foil wrapped parcel of lamb on top of the foil covered pot of rice.
- Cook for 3 hours, or until the lamb is cooked through and pulls easily off the bone with a fork. Fluff the rice, place on a serving platter, and serve with the lamb on top of the rice, garnished with toasted nuts and raisins, and fresh coriander and parsley if desired.
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