This month’s MENA Cooking Club challenge is Jordan, hosted by Cheap Ethnic Eatz.. Previous months include: Algeria, Bahrain, Djiboui, Egypt, and Iraq. Jordan is a neighbor bordering Iraq, and while it is true that the Iraqi influence is obvious especially in the capital Amman, it is Palestine that has the final say in ruling Jordan, as a good half of its citizens are in fact Palestinian, including their queen (and coincidentally their national dish, the Mansaf).You can find mansaf served everywhere in Jerusalem. I would warrant that if the Jordanian government weren’t so buddy-buddy with the Palestinian occupation, mansaf today would widely be known as Israeli mansaf instead of Jordanian. What makes mansaf (منسف) special is the jameed (جميد) used in it. Jameed are rocks of dried fermented yogurt. Other than the jameed, ingredients are as simple as lamb, rice, and bread, with a generous garnish or fried nuts.
The biggest problem you might have in making this dish is finding the jameed. Do not forget to plan ahead and soak the crumbled jameed for 24 hours (a whole day, not just overnight!).
500g jameed rock
500g large lamb chunks on bone
2 cups short-grain rice, cooked a little sticky
1 bag lavash flatbread, or any similar wrap bread
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup toasted almonds
Break up the jameed rock into small chunks and cover with cold water, one to two inches above chunks. Let soak for 24 hours. Every now and then, give it a stir, breaking up any chunks.
Pour mixture into blender, puree until smooth and thick. Strain through coarse sieve.
*Make sure there aren’t any really hard pieces remaining before you puree, or you will break your blender.
Also, in a large pot cover meat with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer about half way, 1/2 hour or so because it will continue to cook when you add it to jameed sauce.
Skim any impurities that rise to the top.
In another pot, pour jameed mixture, 2 cups water, and 2 cups lamb broth.
Bring to a boil and add parboiled lamb chunks. Simmer on medium-low for another 1/2 hour to 1 hour, until meat is super tender and falling apart.
Meanwhile, start cooking rice.
The sauce should be soupy, some like it thicker, some thinner.
When sauce and rice are ready, lay out flatbread all over a serving platter.
Spoon rice in a mound over all of the bread, spreading so it’s slightly higher in the center.
Scoop out the cooked lamb and layer it over the rice.
Some people pour the sauce over the whole thing and eat it Bedouin-style, but you can also keep the sauce on a side and ladle it over individual servings.
Sprinkle toasted pine nuts and almonds all over the top.