Chicken Mandi, Hawaij and Yemen on Spice & Recipe

A flavorful blend of spices just like the life of Amal Alexander, a native of Yemen, a mother, a teacher and a book author.

Chicken Mandi and hawaij spice are a staple recipe and a unique spice blend of the Yemeni cuisine. The blend consists of four core spices – black pepper, cardamom, cumin, and turmeric. However, the portions and the spice choice can differ based on individual preferences. Some other typical spices mixed in the blend are coriander and cloves.

The spice can be bought but it can also be easily made at home.

And this is exactly what Amal Alexander, my guest, does. Once a month Amal prepares the blend and uses it extensively in her cooking. She was born in Yemen, raised in Great Britain, and now resides in Omaha, Nebraska. Besides feeding and taking care of her family, Amal teaches and writes religious books for children as well.

I would like to thank the American Muslim Institute, part of the Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha, Nebraska, for facilitating this interview. You can learn more about them by checking their websites.

Spice & Recipe: The Origins of Flavoris a weekly show that you can watch locally in Omaha, Nebraska on KPAO-TV, Cox 1022 or Century Link 89, and worldwide on the NAM YouTube channel or this website.



  • black pepper
  • cardamom
  • cumin
  • turmeric
  • plain yogurt
  • chicken
  • basmati rice
  • sliced onion
  • raisins
  • salt

Roast equal amounts of cardamom, cumin, coriander, or other whole spices, in a pan for a few minutes. Mix all the spices together and smash them in a mortar or use a coffee grinder. Your hawaij is ready. In a bowl, mix a few spoons of plain yogurt with hawaij. The amount of yogurt will depend on the amount of chicken you are cooking. Layer the chicken with sauce, rub it well against the skin, and let it marinate overnight.

When ready to cook, place a pan over medium heat and brown the chicken on both sides for a couple of minutes. Remove and place chicken in a baking dish, and bake for 45 minutes to one hour, at 350F.

While chicken bakes, prepare rice according to directions. Caramelize sliced onion in a pan, and add raisins towards the end — both ingredients at your desired amount, depending on the number of guests you are feeding.

Serve chicken on top of rice and decorate with caramelized onion and raisins.


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June 5, 2022

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