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!