Jordanian Mansaf – Lamb cooked in a yogurt sauce – المنسف الأردني

Mansaf

Mansaf

Mansaf: Jordan’s national dish, the pride and joy of Jordanians.

It is a dish made of bone in lamb chunks (they have to be big as they will cook for a long time), slowly cooked in a goat yogurt sauce made from Jameed, served on a bed of rice, and topped with toasted pine-nuts and almonds.

The Jameed and the lamb are the most essential ingredients, and quite frankly Jordanians take their Mansaf seriously, don’t you ever try to use chicken or beef as I said we Jordanians take our mansaf seriously :p

Jameed: Hard balls of dried and salted yogurt (usually made of goat’s milk), obviously from the process of making jameed it can keep for ages since it is dried and super salted.

Plus Jameed yogurt is free of fat, you don’t believe me just google it 😉

For the best Jameed you have to go to Al-Karak a city in Jordan.

Mansaf

Mansaf

We usually buy Jameed balls, crush them into chunks, and store them in a ziplock bag and freeze, or you can let them harden and dry. Whenever we want to cook mansaf we put the frozen jameed in water and soak over night. The Jameed am using in today’s recipe is from a city called Madaba in Jordan, it is better to taste the Jameed before you buy it, just take a small chunk of the yogurt ball and taste it, it should be tangy and salty, the Jameed we got from Madaba is a little bit under-salted so we added extra salt, of-course this is rarely done, as Jameed is usually super salty and you often never salt your mansaf. 

As for lamb the best quality lamb should be used, this recipe contains few ingredients, however the quality of the ingredients will greatly affect the taste so the Jameed and meat will shine.

When you are invited into a Jordanian house and you are served mansaf it is considered the ultimate sign of generosity and hospitality (however some Jordanians choose other dishes in fear that foreigners will find the mansaf too exotic).

Until this day Mansaf is served on a big communal platter in Christmas, Easter, Al-Adha, Al-fiter, weddings, graduation parties, or any other huge occasions. Mansaf is traditionally eaten by hand, roll your ball of rice, filled with meat, laban, and chuck into your mouth without having your hands or fingers touch your mouth, eating mansaf is an art by itself, mastered by the old generation.

You can of course use a spoon (I do) but when I was a kid I enjoyed eating mansaf with my hand I remember I would sit in front of this huge mansaf platter and dive in up to my elbows with jameed, rice and meat, but not anymore ;).

Ingredients:

  1. 3 Kg bone in Lamb

    Lamb

    Lamb

  2. 2 large Onion
  3. 7  Cardamom pods
  4. 1 tbs Ghee or 1 tsp ghee herb
  5. 1 ball of Jameed
  6. 4 cups Rice
  7. 1 tsp turmeric
  8. Salt to taste
  9. pine nuts and/or almonds
  10. Jordanian Flat bread (shrak)

*Ghee herb or Hwajet el Samneh : is a spice that resembles the taste of ghee without the calories or the famous artery clogging properties of ghee, great right but the thing is I don’t know the name of this spice in English, I tried to search for it on the internet but couldn’t find it, it seems to be a local (Jordanian) name for that spice, I am on a quest to know what it is and enlighten all of you mansaf lovers so don’t worry I will bring you the answer very soon, lets just call it Ghee Herbs for the meantime.

The Mansaf preparation starts from the day ahead with a simple yet important step:

  1. My mother is using fresh Jameed so its not dried out completely, with a knife.
  2. she breaks up the Jameed balls into small/medium sized chunks
    Jameed after 24 hrs in water

    Jameed after 24 hrs in water

    submerged in water leaving them overnight to reconstitute.

  3. If you are using very hard dried out Jameed balls, just put them in a bag and hammer them :), until they turn into chunks and proceed normally.
  4. Next day:
  5. We used 16 kg whole lamb as we had guests that day :D

    We used 16 kg of meat a whole lamb as we had a lot of guests that day 😀

    Add the lamb, onion peeled and cut in half, cardamom pods, herbal ghee or ghee, water enough to cover the meat and bring to a boil.

  6. Once the meat starts to boil skim the top from any impurities, and boil for 30 minutes.
  7. Simultaneously you have to blend the soaked jameed with the water you added it to, strain in a big pot, any remaining particles or small chunks put them back into the blender and blend again until you have blended all of your jameed into a smooth yogurt liquid we call now Laban or Laban Jameed, then bring it to a boil in a separate uncovered pot.DSC00334
  8. remove the meat, strain the broth and add the meat, boiled laban (liquid Jameed), and half of the strained broth back in a big pot with 1/2 tsp of turmeric and continue cooking.
  9. mean while I would assume that you have rinsed and soaked your rice for 20 minutes, drained and set aside.DSC00339
  10. For the rice boil 6  cups of water, add ghee, 1/2 tsp turmeric, cardamom and salt, when boiling add the rice, stir once cover on high heat until the water reaches the rice level 12-15 minutes, lower the heat and cook for 20-25 minutes until the rice is fluffy for the mansaf its okay if the rice was a little bit sticky, you would ask why well I will explain down below on how to eat mansaf :).
  11. We like to use skin on almonds, boil them remove the skins, half
    Soaked almonds are a great healthy snack to have in your fridge.

    Soaked almonds are a great healthy snack to have in your fridge.

    them and toast, it might seem like a long process but skin on almonds taste better in our opinion.

  12. toast the pine nuts as well.
  13. when the meat is cooked (fall of the bone tender) and the yogurt sauce reaches a creamy thick DSC00355texture, not to thick but not too thin you can assemble the dish.
  14. Layer a big communal platter with flat bread, top with rice, lamb and garnish with almonds and pine nuts.
  15. serve the huge dish along with the yogurt sauce on the side.DSC00369

Now on how to eat mansaf!

Mansaf is a dish deeply ingrained in the social life of Jordanians, and the traditions and rules on how to eat mansaf are somewhat long, I will mention some of them but remember if you were invited in to a Jordanian home just be yourself and don’t worry about not knowing these rules.

DSC00408

People gather around the big mansaf and they are allowed to use one washed hand to form the meat, yogurt and lamb balls and then eat it without allowing the fingers to touch your mouth, the man of the house’s job is to make sure everyone is eating and pour the yogurt evenly on the rice for the guests.

A guest is not allowed to make a mess when eating, or allowed to take meat that is not in front of him/her, and the list goes on and on, using a plate and a spoon is perfectly ok, but I recommend you try eating mansaf by your hand at least once in your life time.

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39 thoughts on “Jordanian Mansaf – Lamb cooked in a yogurt sauce – المنسف الأردني

    • procrastinatorcook says:

      شكرا جزيلا! شربها، كعبلها وأزلوطها! ههههههه مش قادرة أوقف ضحك Btw I loved your title “Food of the gods” and secretly wished that I came out with it before 😦

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  1. Lama says:

    this looks delicious thanks for the recipe! I just bought 4 jameed balls karaka… can I put them straight in the freezer and when I want to use them take them up leave them to defront then cut them up into chunks and leave them overnight in water?

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    • procrastinatorcook says:

      Its better and less time consuming to break them into chunks before putting them in the freezer, and when you want to use them just soak the frozen Jameed chuncks in water for overnight, then follow the steps in pulsing them in the blender and straining them in a sieve, as illustrated, to make sure the laban is lump free. Thank you for checking my blog out 🙂 hope my answer was helpful, if you need anything else pelase don’t hesitate to contact me. Sahtain 🙂

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  2. Omar says:

    now there is liquid (Jameed) packed & ready to use. It tastes good, thick and ready to use. It may lasts for 8 months. Also easy to ship in your travel bags since it is well packed & never leaks. Thanks

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  3. Zee says:

    I just bought some ghee spices- says they are spices for ghee or mansaf. Made by the big Jordanian spice company Kabatilo. The ingredients are mostly familiar spices- fenugreek, turmeric, cardamom, etc but also some I don’t know like handakok and khweikha.. Going to make some mansaf today!

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  4. Hafizah says:

    Salaam. Hope you are well.
    My husband’s been asking me to make mansaf as he had the dish when he visited Jordan. Would love to try your recipe as it seems the most authentic from all the ones online! 🙂
    I’m from UK so can’t buy jameed balls, May I ask if I substitute it with normal natural yoghurt how much would I need for this recipe of 3kg of lamb meat?
    Also, the other half of the broth, do you drizzle over th rice?

    Many kind regards!
    Hope to hear from you very soon as planning of making this on Friday/Saturday! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • procrastinatorcook says:

      Thank you Hafizah for stopping by and checking my blog out… Yes you can use yogurt but you need to prepare it in a certain way … You will need: 8 cups of yogurt, 2 cups of lamb broth, 2 eggs, dried mint and garlic paste.. Direction: mix the yogurt with the eggs in a blender (do it on batches if it doesn’t all fit in) add to a large sauce pan and stir over heat until it reaches boiling point then keep stirring for another 5 minutes, at this point season with dried mint and garlic to your licking add cooked lamb. Note that the only variation here is you need to fully cook the lamb before you add it to the yogurt because you can’t have it boil for a longer time on the stove as opposed to Jameed. Any how tell me how it turns out and happy cooking!

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      • Mint says:

        Thanks for leaving this here as an alternate to Jameed, I’m not sure where to get this from here so may have to make it myself also. Just wondering with Jameed being so salty, where does the salt come into the recipe here? Do you have a guide as to how much salt to begin with or is it just purely by taste? I’ve had Mansaf many times before but never made it myself. Feeling the pressure of getting it right 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • procrastinatorcook says:

        Hi Mint! You are welcome I am planning on having a full recipe for Mansaf with a couple of variations or yogurt based sauces so stay tuned… As you have mentioned the Jameed is salty so you don’t add salt to the dish as opposed to when you use yogurt I recommend you salt it towards the end when you have added the cooked meat to taste. When you make it tell me how it turns out, happy cooking!

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  5. TJ says:

    Found your awesome recipe. Thanks a lot.
    I brought back some dried jameed balls from my last trip to Jordan and wanna make Mansaf now for family and friends.
    How much water do I need to soak 1 Jameed ball in?
    Thank you.

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    • procrastinatorcook says:

      Hi TJ! Sorry for not being able to reply earlier 😦 not sure if you got an answer from another source, but usually the Jameed balls are just submerged with water for overnight (make sure they are covered with water), it would be more than enough! Again sorry for not replying earlier, feel free to roam around the blog, hopefully I will be able to have more content to post. Tell me how did your Mansaf turn out…
      Happy cooking!

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    • procrastinatorcook says:

      Hi Mary thank you for stopping by, the only reason to change the water in my opinion is if the Jameed is too salty, or you want to reduce the salt in it anyways, other than that I would use the same water I soaked it in.

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