Jordanian Mansaf is the national dish of Jordan. It is served for every special occasion . Although you may see recipes for this dish using other types of meat, in Jordan it is always made with lamb. The unique feature of this dish however is called Jameed or Jamid. Jamid is a de-fatted and de-hydrated yogurt made from goats milk. It is sold as little rock hard nuggets. The butterfat of the yogurt is separated through the act of shaking the yogurt in a bag called a shakwa made from goat skin. Jamid must be reconstituted with water. It is the what makes mansaf special. It is difficult to find the nuggets in states however, you can likely find a soup base that goes by the same name which is a pretty close substitute. If traveling to Jordan, Jamid makes for a fine souvenir. Please note if you are lucky enough to use the dried nuggets of Jamid, you need to allow 24 hours for it to re-hydrate so plan accordingly. Mansaf is always served on a large platter and is traditionally eaten with the right hand. It takes a bit of practice but there are two ways to eat with the hand. One is to get a small amount of rice and meat, slightly compacted, and brought to the mouth. Please note no food should fall from the hand or your mouth as you eat. Also your fingers should not touch you lips or mouth. Some skilled Jordanians can make a ball of mansaf and flip the ball way up in the air and catch in in their mouth. If all else fails, use a spoon. Enjoy
- 3 pieces jamīd about 1/4 pound or 1 package Jamid soup base
- 1 1/2 quarts plus 1 cup water
- 5 tablespoons clarified unsalted butter ghee
- 2 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder on the bone cut into approximately pieces and trimmed of excess fat
- 2 tablespoons bahārāt a middle eastern spice blend
- 2 cups long-grain rice soaked in water to cover for 30 minutes and drained or rinsed well under running water until the water runs clear
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/4 cup blanched whole almonds
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 pieces shrak or lavash (Armenian flatbread) to line the bottom of the platter
- Soak the jamīd in cold water to cover for 24 hours.
- Drain and melt the jamīd in a pot with 1 quart of the soaking water over medium heat. Add the remaining 1/2 quarts soaking water as it evaporates until the mixture has the consistency of yogurt. This could take up to 2 hours and you should ultimately have about 1 quart liquid jamīd. Strain the jamīd through a sieve and set it aside. Save three-quarters of the jamīd for the meat and the rest for the rice, which you will cook separately. (If using the soup base, mix the base with the water and heat. Save a bit aside fro the rice but you will cook the lamb in the soup base)
- In a large, earthenware casserole, heat 3 tablespoons of the clarified butter over medium heat, then cook the lamb until browned on all sides, about 20 minutes. Remove the meat from the casserole with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off all the excess fat and liquid. Return the meat to the casserole with the reserved three-quarters of jamīd, reduce the heat to low, add the remaining cup of water, sprinkle on the bahārāt, and cook, uncovered, until the meat is falling off the bone, about 3 hours. Do not use any salt because the jamīd is salty, but if you are using the soup mix, salt to taste.
- Meanwhile, prepare the rice. In a heavy flame-proof casserole or pot with a heavy lid, melt 2 tablespoons of the clarified butter over medium-high heat, then cook the rice for 2 minutes, stirring. Pour in 2 cups of the boiling water and the salt, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid. After 20 minutes, if the rice is not done, keep adding boiling water in small amounts until the rice has absorbed the additional water and is tender. When the rice is done, stir in the remaining quarter of the jamīd.
- Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon clarified butter in a small skillet and cook, shaking the skillet, until the butter is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and set the butter aside.
- Melt the remaining tablespoon clarified butter in the small skillet and cook the almonds and pine nuts until light golden, about 5 minutes, tossing the nuts. Set the nuts aside.
- On a large serving tray arrange the shrak (bread) directly on the tray, overlapping them some, and spread some jamīd from the cooked lamb on it so it becomes soft. Strain the meat and place it over the bread, now soft and broken. Spoon the rice over next and put the remaining jamīd sauce from the lamb in a separate bowl with a serving spoon. Sprinkle the pine nuts and almonds over the rice. Pour the reserved 1 tablespoon of melted butter over everything.
- Enjoy the feast!