Mansaf is a delicious Jordanian lamb dish that you can enjoy with flatbread, turmeric rice, and a tasty yogurt sauce.
This is a traditional, layered dish served on special occasions and is a great way for many people to eat together. Watch the video in the recipe card!
And although it’s a special recipe, it’s not that difficult to make it. In fact, this Mansaf recipe is not only authentic but easy to make using readily-available ingredients.
This wholesome Arabic dish is seriously here to win your heart. I’m sure you’re going to absolutely love it!
What is Mansaf?
Mansaf is a traditional Arabic yogurt-based lamb dish. It Jordanians usually serve it with flatbread and rice and is regarded as the national dish of Jordan.
This dish dates back hundreds of years and was a meal eaten by Bedouin tribes in Jordan. Back in the day, this dish was made with either camel or lamb meat. People enjoyed it and served it with a very thin flatbread, a meat broth, and clarified butter.
Mansaf now includes rice and a special dry yogurt (Jameed), to make yogurt sauce.
It’s now incredibly popular across the Middle East and Levant region, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, UAE, and Palestine.
This beautiful, classic lamb and rice dish has three distinct layers that make it taste incredible and give it that authentic touch. Let’s look at what each of these layers is:
Different Layers of Mansaf
There are three delicious and distinct layers to Mansaf recipe. But don’t worry, it’s incredibly easy to make and tastes absolutely out of this world.
The first layer is that of a large, thin flatbread Markook or Shrak bread. The whole bread is used or torn up into smaller pieces and placed around the plate. It tastes exactly like flour tortilla.
The second layer is that of the delicious, cooked turmeric rice that we put on top of the flatbread, along with a layer of lamb meat on top of it.
Lastly, pour our tasty, homemade yogurt sauce on top. Then garnish with chopped parsley and fried almonds or pine nuts.
When is Mansaf Traditionally Eaten?
This dish is served on big events and special occasions, such as national or religious holidays such as Ramadan, and whenever special guests are over at home.
It also makes for a delicious, wholesome meal that's casually served at home to spoil your family with all the incredible flavors of this dish. Mansaf is often served on big, happy, and sad occasions and is eaten casually at home.
When served traditionally, a platter of Mansaf is an excellent way to feed a lot of people at once.
What is Jameed?
An incredibly important ingredient traditionally used in Mansaf recipe is called Jameed. I mentioned it briefly above but let me go into more detail.
Laban Jameed can be a tricky ingredient to get hold of in the US and is part of what makes this dish so special.
Laban is the Arabic word for yogurt, and Jameed means hard, which is precisely what it is.
Jameed is a type of fermented milk product prepared from sheep or goat milk. It has a distinct flavor and aroma.
So Jameed is basically yogurt mixed with salt, drained through a cheesecloth for days, and when it thickens up, a few balls are formed from it, and then the balls are left in the open air to dry completely.
To use Jameed in Mansaf, you must break it and soak it in water. Afterward, it’s mixed in the blender until smooth and has the texture of yogurt!
This is how people back in the day would store milk without refrigeration until they were ready to use it. This old technique is what has given us Jameed.
Jameed liquid is available in the United States and is also known as a soup starter. To make this liquid, the Jameed balls are crushed into a liquid and combined with oil until a smooth, ready-to-use yogurt sauce is produced.
The two main brands available here are Ziyad and Kasih, both of which are quite good quality.
This liquid can be used to make Mansaf recipe by combining it with water.
But I’ve made this recipe in a way that you don’t need Jameed at all. The flavor of Mansaf is tastier when using fresh yogurt. Hence, I have used yogurt since it’s easier, more delicious, and no matter what part of the world you live in, you can try this dish and enjoy it!
Still, if you want to go old school, you can purchase Jameed online too.
Do I Need Jameed to Make this Recipe?
The flavor of yogurt sauce in Mansaf is tastier when using fresh yogurt. Hence, I have used yogurt since it’s easier, more delicious, and no matter what part of the world you live in, you can try this dish and enjoy it!
What You Need to Make Mansaf at Home
Making Mansaf recipe is easier than you think. Here’s what you need to make it at home:
For Yogurt Sauce:
Lamb: Traditionally Jordanians use Lamb meat to make Mansaf. You can use either 3 lamb shanks or 500 grams or 1.1 pounds of lamb with bones.
Ghee: Ghee adds a delicious, rich flavor that is reminiscent of traditional Arabic flavors and gives the dish an authentic touch.
Yogurt: As I mentioned above, traditionally, Jameed is used, but we’ll be using regular plain yogurt since it’s easier, more delicious, and you can easily make this dish no matter where you are in the world.
Corn starch: Adding cornstarch to our yogurt sauce helps stabilize it and gives it the right consistency and thickness.
Salt: You’ll need some to taste to give out all the flavors and balance everything out.
Water: We’ll use boiling hot water to cook our lambs in the pot with the rest of the ingredients.
Turmeric powder: This gives your sauce a beautiful color and adds an aromatic flavor to it.
For Lamb Stock:
Onion: We’ll be using an onion to make our delicious lamb stock.
Black peppercorns: Black peppercorns add a slight bit of heat to our stock to season it properly.
Whole cloves: They give our stock a beautiful flavor and aroma that’s warm and wholesome.
Bay leaves: We’ll also infuse some bay leaves into our lamb stock to bring out the beautiful aroma and balance everything out.
Garlic: You’ll also need some garlic cloves, which will elevate the flavor to the next level.
Whole green cardamom: This is a common whole spice which you can find in Arabic dishes. It gives a herbal warmth to the lamb stock and goes incredibly well with the lamb in the dish.
Ghee: As I mentioned above, ghee just makes everything taste more authentic thanks to its richness. We’ll be using it to make our rice.
Rice: Speaking of rice, you’ll need some short grain rice, wash it and soak it for 20 minutes.
Water: We’ll also be using some boiling hot water for cooking our rice to the perfect level.
Turmeric powder: The rice that goes with Mansaf recipe has tasty flavor and and beautiful color using turmeric powder. We’ll be needing ¼ teaspoon of it in this recipe.
Fresh parsley: Garnish with some fresh chopped parsley. It adds a beautiful freshness to the dish and makes it look even better.
Nuts: You can garnish the Mansaf with some nuts too. Use either fried pine nuts or almonds, we’ll be using fried pine nuts here for a luxurious touch. But feel free to use almonds if you have those at hand.
How to Make Mansaf Recipe Step by Step
Making this tasty Arabic dish is super easy. Here’s what you’ll need to do step by step to make authentic Mansaf at home:
How to Make Lamb Stock for Mansaf
Let’s first start by making our lamb stock. In a large pan, add 3 tablespoons of ghee, and when hot, add the lamb shanks and fry until a few brown patches show on both sides.
Pour boiling water enough to cover the lamb shanks by three inches. Now add the spices, onion, garlic, and salt.
Let the lamb shank cook for an hour and 40 minutes on medium-to-medium high heat. You may need to add more boiling water while cooking the lamb shanks.
Remove the lamb shanks from the stock and keep them aside. Drain the stock from the spices. Discard the spices and keep one cup from the stock on the side.
How to Make Yogurt Sauce for Mansaf Recipe
Now time to make our delicious Mansaf yogurt sauce. While the heat is off, and in a large pan, add the yogurt, corn starch, and salt. Mix well and pour in one cup of the lamb stock we had set aside.
Turn on the heat and cook the sauce on medium heat until it simmers, do not forget to stir often.
Now add the cooked lamb shanks and cook on medium or medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Make sure to stir to prevent it from burning and creating lumps.
Turn off the heat and keep it aside.
Making the Rice
You can’t have Mansaf without some rice, so let’s make some! In a medium pan, add the ghee, and when it is hot, add the drained rice and stir for two minutes on medium heat.
Pour the boiling water and add both turmeric and salt to it. Mix well and let it come to a boil.
When it boils immediately, turn the heat down to the lowest and cover the pan properly, trying to prevent the steam from escaping.
Cook the rice for 16 minutes without ever removing the cover. When the 16 minutes are up, remove the cover and fluff the rice using a spoon or a spatula.
How to Serve Mansaf
Assembling and serving Mansaf is part of the fun! On a plate or platter, place a flatbread, unleavened, or flour tortilla. Scoop a little from the yogurt sauce, top it with rice, and then the lamb shank. Pour a little more of the yogurt sauce on the lamb shank and rice.
Garnish with chopped parsley and fried or roasted pine nuts.
Your delicious authentic Mansaf is ready and you can serve it to your family and guest.
How to Store Leftover Mansaf
You can store any leftovers you might have in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Authentic Mansaf Recipe
For the Yogurt sauce
- 3 lamb shanks or 500gm of lamb with bones
- 3 tablespoon ghee
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoon corn starch
- Salt to taste
- Boiling water
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Spices to make lamb stock
- 1 onion cut in quarters
- 1 ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 5 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 large garlic cloves or 3 medium garlic cloves
- 5 whole green cardamom
For the rice
- 2 tablespoon ghee
- 1 ¼ short grain rice washed and soaked for 20 minutes
- 2 ½ boiling water
- ¼ teasspoon turmeric powder
- Chopped parsley
- Fried pine nuts
Making the lamb stock
- In a large pan add 3 tablespoons ghee and when hot, add the lamb shanks and fry until a few brown patches show on both sides.
- Pour boiling water enough to cover the lamb shanks by three inches. Now add the spices, onion, garlic, and salt.
- Let the lamb shank cook for an hour and 40 minutes on medium-to-medium high heat. You may need to add more boiling water while cooking the lamb shanks.
- Remove the lamb shanks from the stock and keep aside. Drain the stock from the spices. Discard the spices and keep one cup from the stock on the side.
Making the Yogurt Sauce
- While the heat is off, and in a large pan, add the yogurt, corn starch and salt. Mix well and pour in one cup of the lamb stock.
- Turn on the heat and cook the sauce on medium heat until it simmers, do not forget to stir often. Now add the cooked lamb shanks and cook on medium or medium low heat for 15 minutes. Make sure to stir to prevent it from burning and creating lumps.
- Turn off the heat and keep aside.
Making the rice
- In a medium pan, add the ghee and when it is hot add the drained rice and stir for two minutes on medium heat.
- Pour the boiling water and add both the turmeric and salt. Mix well and let it come to a boil. When it boils immediately, turn the heat down to the lowest and cover the pan properly, try to prevent the steam from escaping.
- Cook the rice for 16 minutes without ever removing the cover. When the 16 minutes are up, remove the cover and fluff the rice using a spoon or a spatula.
To serve the Mansaf
- On a plate, place a flat bread, unleavened or flour tortilla. Scoop a little from the yogurt sauce and top it with rice and then the lamb shank. Pour a little more from the yogurt sauce on the lamb shank and rice.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and fried or roasted pine nuts.
- You can use other lamb pieces or even beef, but this dish tastes best with lamb meat.
- I have used plain regular yogurt but if you wish to use Greek yogurt, then add a little more water when making the sauce.
- Pine nuts gives a better flavor but instead you can use toasted almonds.