i’m a nasi mandi-freak. i’m addicted to nasi mandi. i’m nasi mandi unofficial spokesperson. i’m a die-hard fan of nasi mandi. i LOVE mandi rice – and last weekend, i tried this delightful mid-east dish at a new spot – malek al-mandi restaurant.
when did this craze begin for me? ever since i stepped foot in dubai last october 2008 and was introduced to nasi mandi by mr. khairul, i was hooked for life! well, of course nasi tomato, nasi ayam and nasi minyak of our malay food heritage are still favorites, but there’s something about nasi mandi that made me go gaga!
this is how nasi mandi is usually served : rice with the lauk on top, a plate of fresh vege, a small bowl of the chilli paste made from grind chilli and tomatoes – plus lentil soup upon request
for the ‘you-don’t-know-what-you’re-missing’ few who have NEVER tried this nasi mandi :
"..the meat of mandy rice is cooked in the tandoor, which is a special kind of oven. tandoor usually is hole dug in the ground and covered inside by clay. charcoal is placed in the tandoor. then the meat is suspended inside the tandoor without touching the charcoal. after that the whole tandoor is closed without letting any of the smoke to go outside."
the rice pulak is a cross between our nasi minyak and nasi briyani. but the beads of rice is extremely soft, the taste juicy and ever so lemak!
you can easily find nasi mandi in malaysia too if you’re wondering. i’ve tried the one in al-rawsya, ampang. also al-diafah in sri petaling. both are acceptable but nothing beats the real thing, people! moh la datang dubai!
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our favorite mandi restaurant is tawasol (been going there even before kahfi was born! now he’s 2 years old already!). however, the other day we went to this mandi restaurant in karama – malek al-mandi, to try their version of the mandi rice.
it’s situated in zabeel road, opposite civil defense building in karama. the signage is hot-read, with a crown symbol smack in the middle.
if you’re lucky, you may get a parking space along the front of the shoplots. if not, you can drive all the way to the back, and there’s ample parking spaces there too. all you need to do is cross a parking lot (for…i forgot which company) to get to the restaurant.
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usually, any mandi restaurant would have sitting area which is carpeted and have surrounding walls for privacy. at malek al-mandi, the walls are made to look like unfinished bricks which look really nice, like being in an old, traditional restaurant.
instead of a majlees (traditional arabic seat made of cushions), they only have plush pillows against the wall, which are equally comfortable. however, there was no curtain or makeshift door to cover the ‘entrance’ of our eating space. there’s privacy because of the surrounding walls, but people can still take a peek from the open entrance.
i still prefer tawasol and marhabani with their curtains and all-covered-up tents!
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mandi rice is usually accompanied by a plate of veggie. the vegetables vary – this one has slices of carrots, cucumber, tomatoes and cabbage. a slice of lemon is a must to give the dish an extra zing!
oh my – even looking at my own photo of this mandi chicken made me want another plate! this is the dish that i am addicted to – the mandi chicken – ultra-soft beads of rice eaten with super-juicy chicken. raisins are cooked with the rice to give it that slightly sweet taste. i didn’t really like that sweet hint, but the rice was too incredibly soft not to indulge in!
the chicken is as delicious as always! there are no words to describe it!
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…and this is what malek al-mandi is famous for - mutton zorbian, a dish of rice with lamb or chicken cooked in between the rice. this is the dish that would make even the most staunch of tawasol fan convert to malek al-mandi! yes, i’m talking about mr. khairul, the mutton-freak!
abg norris, who recommended us this place, and especially this particular dish, said that malek al-mandi only made a limited amount of this dish (apesal ntah, padehal popular dish – buat la banyak-banyak kan?). if you come later during the day, you’d leave disappointed as the dish is sold out early each day.
when we came, we’re lucky to be able to try mutton zorbian, though we missed chicken zorbian. habis dah! uhuk uhuk!
the rice is like mandi rice, but enriched with an explosion of spices that came from the lamb that is cooked together in the rice. i don’t really like it because it didn’t comply with my rice-meat ratio (haha). to me, there’s too much spice that i can hardly taste the delicious rice. when i ate this, i added in a lot of the rice from the mandi chicken.
but this is just me. if you’re the sort who likes your flavored rice to be laden with spices, this might be to your liking! mr. khairul absolutely LOVED it!
the mutton was in an entirely different league. it’s so smooth and juicy that the flesh tore easily from the bones. i LOVE this mutton, but i would rather eat it with plain mandi rice, rather than the zorbian rice it came in.
and as usual, other than a plate of veggies, mandi rice comes together with this sambal – a pasty sauce made from grind chilli and lots of tomatoes. really an excellent partner to a mandi rice dish.
the boys sipping lentil soup
upon request, you could also get complimentary lentil soups. khaleef loves soups, so this one is also in his list of favorites.
the do-it-yourself tea station
another cool bit at malek al-mandi is the free tea!
after a big meal at tawasol or any other mandi restaurant, you usually order small glasses of tea that comes dipped with mint leaves. here at malek al-mandi, there’s a water boiler right at the entrance complete with a cup of mint leaves for you to make your own tea – and it’s on the house!
free tea, self-service. certainly a plus-point!
burp! need i say more?
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we actually went with this lovely malaysian family whom we just met; abg norris and kak moi. abg norris is a self-confessed mutton zorbian’s die-hard fan and he’s the one who ‘lured’ us into eating here! thank you so much, bro! now my husband pulak yang hooked!
his wife, kak moi is warm and friendly - such a nice person to meet for the first time. funnily enough, i’ve heard of her name countless of times over conversation, or through other malaysians’ blogs or tagged photographs on facebook, but i’ve never really met her.
at the same time, she’s heard of me too, and never met me!
…and now here we are! baru la dapat jumpa ye kak moi? hihi. see – both of us have stayed in dubai for more or less 3-4 years now, but our path never crossed. ramai malaysian kat dubai ni sampai ade yang belum berjumpa lagi walaupun dah duduk sini lama!
to me, it’s always fun to meet new malaysian family, especially ones as funny as abg norris, and as lovely as kak moi.
nanti bole lepak-lepak over mutton zorbian ya? this time let’s go early so we can get the chicken zorbian!