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Mansaf

closeup of mansaf

Mansaf is a classic Jordanian Bedouin dish featuring tender pieces of lamb, fluffy rice, and a tangy-jameed-based yogurt sauce, all on top of a thin Middle Eastern flatbread known as Shrak.

In my family, this Jordanian Mansaf recipe is number one. We crave it all year round, and it is the most requested dish we ask our mom to make. My mother was raised in Jordan, where she was taught this dish in her later years by her mother. She has passed down that recipe to me; frankly, I never tasted a better version.

rice topped with yogurt and lamb known as mansaf

This post is brought to you by AMERICAN LAMB BOARD. Thank you for supporting Fufu’s Kitchen to continue sharing delicious recipes.  All opinions are my own.

Mansaf Ingredients

Mansaf is a dish many make for large gatherings, whether hosting friends for dinner, feeding attendees at a funeral, or for celebratory occasions like a wedding. It consists of several key components:

  1. Lamb– Lamb is always the protein cooked for this dish. I go to my local Halal butcher for this recipe and purchase an American Lamb Shoulder that is roughly 7 lbs and have it cut into medium-large pieces with some excess fat removed, leaving you with about 5.5 lbs of lamb. Be sure to tell your butcher to cut it into this size. The lamb is rinsed of any residue, then cooked in a broth for roughly 2 hours until tender, and then continues to be cooked in the yogurt sauce lightly. The lamb broth is used to cook the rice for this meal and the yogurt sauce. So, as you can see, the lamb is integral to this dish, so it’s vital to use high-quality American Lamb.
lamb prep in 3 steps for mansaf

2. Yogurt Sauce– Mansaf is traditionally made with jameed, dehydrated, salty, tangy yogurt reconstituted with water. This is what gives the sauce its tang and sets it apart. Sometimes, the yogurt includes mansaf spices, but this is optional; I typically do not add it. This recipe is blended with plain yogurt and leftover lamb broth. Nowadays, if you cannot access jameed; you can buy something labeled Jameed starter at the Arab grocery store and follow those package instructions for the yogurt sauce. I will teach you how to make mansaf with jameed in this recipe.

3. Rice– The rice is meant to be fluffy, often colored yellow with a pinch of turmeric. Mansaf is more carb-forward, including a thin bread layer and rice. Typically, white rice, like jasmine, is used.

4. Bread-The bread used for mansaf is very thin and almost see-through. It is the foundation of mansaf and is often shredded into bite-size pieces and then lightly soaked with the yogurt sauce before adding the rice on top. Specifically, shrak or markouk bread (pictured below) is used for this layer and can be found in almost all Middle Eastern stores, fresh or frozen.

a photo of markouk bread

Why Buy American Lamb?

Did you know that American Lamb is naturally nourishing? On average, a 3-ounce serving of American Lamb will give you half of your daily protein needs and 160 calories. It is super nutritious, too, being an excellent source of protein, zinc, iron, vitamin B12, and more.

And if you didn’t know, when you purchase American lamb, you directly benefit local farmers and ranchers dedicated to caring for the land and animals. American lamb is produced in every state in the U.S., so fresh, local lamb is available year-round. Choosing American Lamb will yield you a high-quality and nutrient-rich protein. All kosher and halal-certified meat in the U.S. is American. If you want to learn more about the benefits, grazing methods, and where to find American Lamb near you, visit their website.

close up of tender lamb on a bed of mansaf rice

What is Mansaf made of?

There are several components to making the perfect mansaf, each with its technique and timing.

Cookery of the Lamb: The most important is to start on the cookery of the lamb as that will take the longest. Plus, we will use the lamb broth to cook the rice and add to the yogurt sauce. So, the lamb must be the first thing addressed. First, rinse the lamb pieces in cold water several times before adding them to a large pot. Cover the lamb in water entirely, plus 2 inches. Bring to a boil. After a few minutes, you will find some residue from the meat that you can scoop off to have a clean broth. Add the cardamom pods, onion, and bay leaves to the liquid and let this simmer for approximately 2 hours until the meat is tender. *See recipe notes for USDA time and temp recommendations.

Making the Yogurt Sauce: If using jameed balls, which I do for this recipe, you will crush them and place them in water overnight to soak and soften. The next day, this is blended together. I blend in plain yogurt, cornstarch, and leftover lamb broth (the amount of broth depends on how thin or thick you prefer the sauce). I start with 2 cups but sometimes use closer to 3 cups of broth. I run the sauce through a sieve to remove any lumps. Then, it is cooked in a pot until reaching a light boil before adding the lamb pieces and cooking it on low heat for another 15 minutes. The sauce should be tangy, rich, creamy, and smooth! The consistency should be thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon.

picture of jameed and it crushed then soaked in prep for mansaf

Other components: The rice should be cooked according to the variety used but white rice is typically long grain. As mentioned before, the bread used commonly is shrak or markouk and that will be ripped into small pieces as a layer to this dish. Lastly, the garnishes call for toasted slivered almonds for crunch and chopped parsley for color and freshness.

How to Assemble Mansaf:

You will need a large platter about 14 inches round. I found these stainless serving platters at the Middle Eastern store but anything you have large enough will do. Add a thin layer of the bread, which should be ripped into small pieces to cover the bottom of the platter. Soak the bread in a few ladles of yogurt sauce from the pot. Then, add the rice evenly across the layer of bread. Remove the lamb pieces from the yogurt sauce and add on top of the rice. Garnish with all the nuts and parsley. Serve the yogurt in a big bowl beside it so you can ladle more on your plate as you wish.

A large platter of mansaf with a side of the yogurt and veggies

How to eat Mansaf?

It depends on who you ask! Jordanians, especially overseas, are accustomed to eating Mansaf with their hands. Often, green onions and radishes are served on the side to break the richness of this dish. In our household, we use utensils to enjoy this meal and serve it with thinly sliced red onions with fresh lemon juice. This gives the dish some acidity, which I believe it needs since it is so rich. We also serve radishes and green onions as customarily done. Be warned that you may need to nap after enjoying this meal as mansaf can make you sleepy! It is known to put you in a food coma, but well worth it every time!

If you like other yogurt-based dishes, try my popular Shish Barak (meat dumplings in yogurt), or Zahra Bi’laban (Cauliflower yogurt stew with lamb).

Be sure to check out my Mansaf video below! For the best viewing experience, watch the video in full-screen mode!

Please Leave a Review & Rating

I cannot wait for you to try this easy, authentic Jordanian Lamb Mansaf recipe! If you try my recipes, please consider leaving a star rating and/ or review in the comment section below. I love hearing from you. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below as well. You can share your remakes with me on my Instagram!

Close up of mansaf
rice topped with yogurt and lamb known as mansaf
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Mansaf

Mansaf is a classic Jordanian Bedouin dish featuring tender pieces of lamb, fluffy rice, and a tangy-jameed-based yogurt sauce, all on top of a thin Middle Eastern flatbread known as Shrak.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time3 hours
Course: dinner
Cuisine: Arab, Arabic, jordanian, Middle Eastern
Keyword: authentic mansaf, how to cook lamb for mansaf, how to make mansaf, how to make yogurt sauce for mansaf, jordanian mansaf, mansaf, traditional mansaf, what is mansaf
Servings: 8 people
Author: Heifa

Ingredients

Lamb Prep.

  • 7 lbs of American Lamb Shoulder, cleaned of excess fat, cut into medium-large pieces and washed thoroughly with water *after cleaning it will equate to 5.5lbs of lamb
  • Water to submerge the lamb
  • 4 Cardamom Pods
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • Onion, quartered

Yogurt Sauce

  • 2 cups Jameed, crushed and soaked (1 jameed ball) hard balls of dried yogurt if this isn’t an option for you then use liquid jameed which is readily available in Middle Eastern stores
  • 2 tbsp Corn starch
  • 2 1/2 cups Plain yogurt
  • 2 cups Lamb broth *the amount depends on how thick or thin you like your yogurt sauce so start with 1 cup and go from there. I start with 2 and sometimes end up needing closer to 3.

Rice

  • 3.5 cups White rice, soaked and drained
  • 1.5 tbsp Olive oil or Ghee
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • Salt to taste Roughly 1-2 tsp.
  • Cooking Liquid (Lamb Broth)

Other Components

  • 1 cup Slivered Almonds toasted in ghee
  • 1 cup Parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 Shrak/Markouk bread shredded into bite size pieces
  • Green onions and radishes or sliced red onions with fresh lemon juice squeezed on top to serve with

Instructions

  • Rinse the meat thoroughly under running water.
  • Place the meat into a large pot and cover with water. Place on the stove on medium to high heat to bring this to a boil.
  • Once it starts boiling, you will see some residue arise on the top of the pot from the meat. Just spoon this off and place in a bowl to discard.
  • Now add the onions, cardamom, and bay leaves to the pot. Bring it down to a simmer and let this cook for another 2 hours or so until the meat is tender.
  • Once the meat is tender, place the meat in a dish and put to the side.
  • Sift the broth of the meat. You will be using a portion of it to add to the yogurt and some to cook the rice in.
  • To make the yogurt sauce, combine the crushed jameed and the water it was soaked in into a blender and blend until all is smooth.
  • Then add the corn starch, plain yogurt, and beef broth. Blend again. Run this through a sieve into a large pot. *Use the same one you cooked the lamb in to save on dishes.
  • Cook the yogurt on low to medium heat for about 15-20 min constantly stirring it until it starts to lightly boil. At this point, add the lamb pieces back into the pot with the yogurt. Let it cook together for another 15 minutes.
  • To make the rice, add the olive oil or ghee to a pot and add the rice to toast for a minute or two. Then, add the rice along with the leftover lamb broth. You will need anywhere from 5-7 cups of broth-see package instructions for the rice you are cooking. Add the turmeric and salt then bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, cover, and allow for the rice to cook through.
  • Now that all the components are ready, let's start assembling. You will need a large platter about 16 inches round. Add the bread which should be ripped into bite size pieces. Soak the bread in a few ladles of yogurt sauce from the pot. Then add the rice and top that with the lamb pieces. Garnish with all the nuts and parsley. Serve the yogurt in a big bowl beside it so you can ladle more on top of your plate as you wish.
  • My family and I like to serve this with red onion sliced with squeezed lemon juice on top and/or scallions and radishes! Enjoy!

Notes

*USDA recommends lamb reach an internal temperature of 145F with a 3-minute rest.

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it today for my husband (I don’t like lamb, ahem) and he loved it.

    I’ll be following more of your recipes!

    1. Thanks, Irina. I will be honest, I never use liquid jameed but my assumption would be two packages. It would be best to look at the back of one package and see the servings and preparation just in case. Enjoy!

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