The first time I ever tried this dish I literally fell in LOVE. It’s tangy, creamy, delicious and unlike anything else I’ve ever eaten in my life. If you love sharp flavored cheeses, you would love this dish. It’s definitely not a dish you will find at just any restaurant. Even though it is a traditional dish that many Middle Eastern families know how to make, most Middle Eastern restaurants won’t have the dish on the menu just because the traditional way of cooking it takes quite some work. Since trying it for the first time a few years ago, I’ve managed to make it multiple times at home and it’s turned out quite delicious every time. The first few times I made it, I used real jameed balls, which are basically balls of dried fermented yogurt. This is a hard item to get here in the states but I received it from overseas when a family member came to visit. The process of making mansaf requires soaking the dried jameed in water overnight and then blending until fine. Then you have to strain the jameed and slowly heat it up while adding broth to it until you get to the desired taste and consistency. It’s definitely worth it when you finally eat the end product, but sometimes life gets too busy and we don’t have time to spend that much energy on making dinner.
A few weeks ago while shopping at the local Middle Eastern market, I finally decided to try the prepared liquid jameed, sold in cardboard cartons. This form of the jameed was already liquefied and ready to be quickly heated and served. I finally made mansaf using this prepared jameed the other day, and honestly, I was quite impressed. All the flavors are there and it was overall really good for how easy it was to make.
I don’t have a set recipe for making the mansaf– I just sort of eyeball everything and play it by ear, tasting as I’m cooking. The basics for making it, though, is as follows:
- Boil the lamb meat in water until cooked through. Drain, saving the lamb broth.
- Pour the liquid jameed into a pot and slowly heat it up, stirring occasionally. Add in equal parts of the lamb broth and then add in the boiled lamb meat. Simmer the meat in the broth mixture for about an hour, until the lamb meat is tender.
- While the lamb is simmering, cook your rice. I used plain white rice but the traditional recipe usually calls for Egyptian rice, which is a shorter grain. Either way, whatever rice you use will be delicious! I cooked mine in a rice cooker, using some of the lamb broth instead of water, but you can use whatever liquid you’d like.
- Once the rice is done, place in a serving bowl. Place lamb meat on top, and drizzle over the jameed liquid. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley and toasted almonds or pine nuts.