Jordan - Mansaf
Oh boy. I was a bit worried going into this that the lamb would not taste like anything or that it would be too tough. Little did I know... little. Did. I. Know. It was actually so flavorful and tender. And went perfectly with the saffron rice. The tip I’ve always read, don’t overdo the saffron. Just a little goes a long way. The rice tasted so beautifully.
Unfortunately, I opted to use Greek yogurt for the lamb instead of jameed (dry yogurt). But that’s also because I don’t even know where to get that or labneh, or the patience to make my own haha. Laziness, I’d say, but also been super busy getting ready for the move!
What country should I do next? What would you like to see (even if it’s a repeat country)?
Pinch of saffron
6 tablespoons butter, divided
4 pieces of lamb, or about 4-6 oz per person
1 medium onion, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
Salt and pepper, for taste
2 cups Greek yogurt
2 cups rice
1/2 blanched almonds
1/2 cup pine nuts
4 loaves pita bread, optional
Before you start anything else, soak the saffron in about 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl.
In a pot on medium-high heat, add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the lamb and brown on both sides until seared and brown. Remove and set aside.
Add the chopped onion, and cook until golden and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the lamb back into the pot and add the bay leaves, cardamom, cumin, salt, and pepper.
Add enough water until all the ingredients are covered. Bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered for about 1 1/2 hours.
When the time is almost up on simmering, put the Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup of water from the pot into a food processor or blender, until smooth and well incorporated. Slowly pour the yogurt mixture into the pot while stirring. When the mixture starts to boil again, cover and let simmer for 10 more minutes.
Note: You can use 350g, or 1 1/2 cups, of jameed soaked in warm water overnight, or 500g, or 2 cups, of labaneh in place of the Greek yogurt.
Soak the rice in warm water for about 10 minutes.
Heat a medium-sized pot on medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and add the rice once it’s fully melted. Give it a good mix, and add 4 cups of water, the saffron, as well as the water it was soaking in. Season with salt and pepper. When it comes to a soft boil, set the heat to low, cover, and let it cook for about 21 minutes. When the 21 minutes is up, remove the rice from the heat and let it sit, covered, for an additional 5 minutes.
In the meantime, in a small pan, melt another 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the almonds and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts and saute for another 3 minutes. Set the pan aside.
If you’re using pita bread, or khubz, split them open and overlap them on a serving tray. Drizzle about 1/2 cup of yogurt sauce from the pot on top of the bread.
Add the rice on top of the yogurt sauce, and finally the meat on top of the rice. Garnish the meat with the almonds and pine nuts, and parsley, if desired.
Serve the sauce from the pot in a serving bowl if you need or want more of it with your meal!
Recipe adapted from International Alert.