Mansaf is a very rich, healthy dish that is famous mainly in Jordan and Palestine, but considered Jordan’s national dish and is common in other Arabian Peninsulan countries. It is made of lamb chops, yogurt, Jameed, rice, and Shrak bread and is garnished with nuts and chopped parsley. Although some variations of the meal may substitute lamb with chicken, beef, or even fish; the authentic traditions of making Mansaf call for lamb chops.
Jameed is ball-shaped salted, dehydrated goat’s yoghurt. Yes, it is pretty difficult, nearly impossible, to find in your regular grocery store, but it is still possible to find it in some specialty stores. Sometimes Jameed is sold in liquid form.
In some variations of the recipe, Freekeh (grain made by parching, roasting, drying, and cracking green wheat) may be used simultaneously with the rice and is spooned on top of the rice layer.
When you cook Mansaf for the first time, you might think that it is a bit difficult to make, but in no time you will master cooking this delicious meal. It is very simple to prepare and can be cooked super fast. In Jordan, Palestine, and other Arab countries, t is usually served in big gatherings and special occasions, but can still be served as a nice lunch for a lovely family weekend.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 70 minutes
- 4.5 lbs lamb, cut into 5-7 oz chops
- 32 oz yogurt
- Half a ball of Jameed (if inaccessible, substitute with additional 8 oz of yogurt)
- 4 cups short grain rice
- 1 medium size onion, peeled and cut
- 12 cups water
- 2 bay leaves, 6 pods of cardamom, 1 teaspoon safflower
- 2 tablespoons ground mix equal amounts of turmeric, black pepper, fenugreek, and dried melilotus (sweet clover)
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
- 2 pieces Shrak bread (may be substituted with any type of unleavened flatbread, such as Lavash or tortilla)
- 1 cup of some/all the following fried/toasted nuts: pine nuts, halved almonds, halved peanuts
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- If you are using Jameed, crush it into almond-sized chunks (or as small as you can) and soak it in 2 cups of warm water for about an hour prior to starting the cooking process.
- In a separate bowl, soak the rice in lukewarm water for 20-30 minutes, then drain and discard the water.
- In a pot, add the meat, onion, bay leaves, cardamom, 10 cups of water and cook for about an hour until meat is tender.
- Blend the soaked Jameed (with its water) and the yogurt in the blender into a smooth liquid. Strain and then pour into a second pot.
- Put the yogurt mixture pot on fire and continue stirring until it comes to a boil. Then lower the heat.
- Add the meat chops, ground spice mix, 2-3 cups of the meat broth to the yogurt and leave to simmer until the flavors merge and you have a tasty smooth yogurt sauce.
- In a separate pot, bring to a boil 4 cups of the meat broth after adding 2 pods of cardamom, safflower, and some salt. Add the drained rice and bring to a boil again. Then lower the heat and allow to simmer until rice is fluffy and well done.
- Layer the bread in the serving platter and drizzle with some yogurt sauce. Spoon the rice over evenly.
- Arrange the lamb chops on top of the rice and drizzle with the ghee/oil you fried the nuts with.
- Garnish with fried nuts and chopped parsley and serve next to the yogurt sauce.
- Jameed is just dehydrated fermented goat’s yogurt with salt formed into balls, so the meal can be cooked entirely with Jameed, entirely with yogurt, or a mixture of both; but Jameed still gives an incomparable, authentic Mansaf taste.
- The duration of soaking the Jameed may vary depending on its freshness. If it is really old and hard, you might need to leave it overnight.
- If you use Jameed partially or entirely, DO NOT add any salt to the yogurt sauce or you will end up with very salty Mansaf.
- Instead of cooking the meat separately, some people prefer to cook it in the yogurt sauce.
- If you don’t want your yogurt to curdle/split, DO NOT stop stirring it until it comes to a boil. Do not cover it either.
- In some variations of the recipe, turmeric is added to the rice instead of the yogurt sauce.
- Use a heat diffuser when allowing rice to simmer to prevent undercooking and burning.
- You can always toast the nuts if you would like to opt for healthier options.
- Mansaf is one of the few Arabian meals that does not need to be accompanied with salad. It is usually served alongside sweet green pepper, fresh onion, radish, pickles, and assorted herbs (arugula, basil, etc.).