All The Associated Arabic Terms

Mansaf  منسف is a very old traditional Bedouin Jordanian dish that back in the day used to be cooked and served only for significant occasions, as it is meant to reflect the generosity of the host. It is basically a yogurt stew locally also called “Mleaheyeh ملاحية” that is cooked with large pieces of meat. Mansaf is served with the Bedouin specialty Shrak bread  خبز شراك, which is paper thin bread cooked over an extraverted piece of cast iron (known as a Sajyeh صاجية) that is placed straight over the burning wood. On the serving tray and over the bread, the yellow tinted rice with turmeric is poured, over which the cooked lamb meat is placed and all is dressed generously with the yogurt stew.  

Note that, Shrak bread  خبز شراك is similar to the Levantine Saj Bread خبز الصاج and the Gulf Region’s Rgag رقاق. Also goof to know that back in the old days, Mansaf used to be made with bulgur instead of rice, to which a layer of rice is then added (over the bulgur). Nowadays Mansaf is made only with rice.

As I was Speaking To Rawan Otoom, a Jordanian food blogger, about Bedouin Jordanian eating traditions and Mansaf, she explained to me that : “Mansaf is a Bedouin dish and eating it follows Bedouin traditions. So traditionally, Mansaf should be served in a large round tray and eaten by hand. Usually we stand around the tray, the right hand on the front to eat with and the left hand on the back so it doesn’t bother the person standing beside you. You must never use your left hand. Everyone must eat only from the part that is in front of them, and never to eat from the middle of the dish.” She then also mentioned that “the quantity of meat used reflects hospitality, the more meat, the more generous the host. The host will continually keep inviting his guests to eat more, and will put more meat and yogurt sauce in front of them. This is what is referred to as Jordanian hospitality among other things.”

This recipe here is Rawan’s Mansaf Recipe, give it a try, it is totally different and I can confidently tell you it is one of the most unique flavours you will ever taste!

Ingredients

For the meat
  • 20 large pieces of lamb meat on the bone
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cloves cardamom, coarsely crushed
  • 1 tsp black pepper corns
  • 1 large onion cut into quarters
For Yougurt sauce 
  • 2 Kg cow’s yogurt
  • 1 Kg goat’s yogurt
  • 1 DS Jameed ball (fermented goats’ yogurt ball) grounded into powder
  • 4 tbsp labneh 
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp Samen Baladi (local ghee or clarified butter)
For the rice
  • 2 Kg (10 cups) short grain rice
  • 2 liters water
  • 3/4 cup Samen (clarified butter or ghee)
  • 1/4 cup corn or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp meskeh (mastic) ground with some salt
  • Salt to taste

A day ahead of making mansaf, powder the jameed ball by pounding it to break, then soak this Jameed powder in warm water over night.

On the day, start by making the Jameed (yogurt sauce). In a large pot, place the meat pieces along with the spices, onion and enough water to cover, and bring to the boil. Remove the brown froth that floats at the top, and then cover and let the meat cook for 2 hrs until nearly done.

In the meantime, gradually blend the yogurts with the soaked Jameed and labneh using the blender. Pour this yogurt-Jameed mix through a fine strainer into a large pot and stir continually until it’s just about to boil (stirring is very important to keep the yogurt from splitting).

Add the cooked meat with 4 cups of its stock and the turmeric to the cooking yogurt, and keep cooking the mixture together until the meat is cooked through and tender. If the sauce gets thicker with the boiling, add more stock or boiling water until u reach the right consistency.

Make the rice.

Start by soaking the rice in water for 30 minutes then wash it thoroughly.

Put the ghee and oil in a large pot, when heated add the rice and flip to toast several times until it absorbes all the fat. Add the salt and mastic then add the boiling water (water should be one centimeter above rice level).

When it reaches a turning boil and the rice starts to absorb the water, lower the heat and let it cook on the lowest setting.

To serve, lay the shrak bread on the base of the round try and then top with the rice and spread it all around the tray. Remove the meat from the sauce and arrange it evenly over the rice then garnish with the fried nuts.Strain the yogurt sauce into serving bowls and place on the side of the tray.

Serve hot with a side of DS Organic Green Olives in Brine and DS Turnip Pickles.

Meet Rawan Otoom

Rawan, the mother of 3 beautiful children, holder of a Pharmacy Doctorate certificate is a woman passionate about food. So much so that she has recently plunged into the food world and started a food blog (Rawan’s Kitchen) as well as joined the team of healthy food experts of Nakahat Magazine, a Jordanian e-magazine focused on healthy cooking.

Rawan describes herself as: “I love cooking and baking. It’s passionate, creative, inspirational and therapeutic somehow! This food passion of mine goes back to school days, and developed with all the support I got from family and friends, and off course due to my insistence to learn more and more every single day.”

This Mansaf recipe is provided by Rawan Otoom and is published on this blog with her permission. Please do not copy or post this recipe without her permission.

___________________________

Food For Thought
A lesson to learn from the Bedouins: Despite scarcity, Giving is the most essential of virtues

Read More about Jordan in these links:

The world is beautiful, all its people are beautiful, all cultures equally important, and all the same in the end – all out there for us to explore…

Ramadan Kareem

You may also like…