Al Mandi, is a rice and meat dish which traces its origin in Yemen. It utilizes the ancient methods of cooking lamb or chicken – prepared with rice, spices and water – slowly cooked in a deep hole in the ground that remains covered until the meat is tender.
Masood took me to Bait al Mandi, a small yet popular Yemeni restaurant in Al Rigga Road, Dubai. Upon entering, we were ushered upstairs, where the family cabins are located. It was 10 pm, Friday night, and the place was packed. While waiting, I took the following pictures with the cellphone’s camera, to be discreet. This place is, afterall, intended to provide people, specially the women, some privacy.
Notice the shoes? In a traditional Arab setting, food is usually served and eaten while sitting on the carpet. That’s why people left their shoes outside the cabin.
There were a total of 6 cabins upstairs and only one man to serve them all. Yet I observed that he moved swiftly and efficiently, and he was quite polite too. There is no waiting area. There was a chair, on which I sat on, while Masood remained standing. A family finally vacated a cabin 30 minutes later.
We finally got cabin number 1, previously occupied by an Arab couple and their two adorable children (MashaAllah). We were expecting a typical Arabian setting inside the cabin, as I’ve mentioned earlier: huge, red (I’ve seen this color in every Arabian restaurant) cushions and having dinner while sitting on the carpet. Instead, there was a round table and five mismatched chairs. There were a couple of red cushions on the floor alright, but the kids apparently took all their energy out on them – the white cotton stuffing oozing out from the seams.
I wonder what that round thing is on the wall? It wasn’t visually appealing, perhaps because it was awkwardly hanged on the corner. The waiter came in and asked for our order. There was no menu; I think they only served Mandi. We didn’t care anyway, after all that’s what we came all the way here for.
A plastic sheet was spread on the table (this was either a custom or just to make it easier for them to clean up after wards).
And dinner arrived in 10 minutes: a plate of hot mutton mandi, salad, yoghurt, and spicy tomato chutney. We also ordered two cans of Sprite. I must say that this was the most mouthwatering and delicious mandi I have ever tasted in my entire life! The meat was cooked to perfection: tender and very juicy. The tomato chutney complimented it by adding the much needed spicy flavor.
We ordered yet another plate of mandi.
That’s AED 84 for two plates of mandi (at AED 40 each) and two cans of Sprite. Overall, the place wasn’t elegant, but we left stuffed and happy. I’d always love to return here anytime for a good plate of mandi.
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