This Jordanian Lamb Mansaf is one of the most impressive dishes I cook on the regular. I love rice dishes, especially those cooked in stock like a pilaf or pulao - like my Moroccan silverbeet with rice. This particular recipe not only cooks the rice in stock, it combines meltingly tender pieces of lamb (another favourite) and a bucketload of delicious nuts! Mansaf is usually associated as a Lebanese dish, which it is, but the dish originated in Jordan and is their national dish.
Spiced rice with lamb and nuts
The results are beautifully spiced melange of flavours and textures. It's an impressive dish, one normally reserved for special occasions. I like to think every day is a special occasion so will cook it midweek, weekend, birthdays, easter, bat mitsvahs - any excuse! I'll also cook this occasionally using bulgur wheat. I LOVE the nutty qualities of bulgur wheat. It cooks just like rice, so change it up and use bulgur if you've not tried it before.
Lamb, chicken, goat, beef?
You can cook this dish using any meat you like. Lamb, goat and beef will take around the same time to tenderise but chicken will cook quicker so adjust the recipe cooking time accordingly.
I can't begin to tell you just how delicious this is - give it a try yourself to see why it's loved across the Middle East.
How to make Lamb Mansaf
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter (or olive oil)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1.4 lb lamb shoulder (600g) cut into large chunks
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp tomato puree
- salt & pepper
- 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt (plain)
- 1 cup Basmati rice or coarse bulgur wheat
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup cashew nuts (unsalted)
- 1/4 cup pistachio nuts (unsalted)
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
- Heat the butter (or oil) in a large saucepan over a moderate heat until just hot. Gently fry the onion, garlic, cinnamon and cumin for 7-8 minutes until soft and golden. Add the lamb and stir for 5 minutes. Pour in 3 cups of water and tomato puree, season with salt & pepper and stir well. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer gently for 1 hour until the meat is tender. Remove from the heat. Separate the solids from the liquid by pouring the lamb into a sieve. Retain the cooking liquid.
- Place 2½ cups of the cooking liquid into a fresh pan along with a little more salt & pepper and bring to a simmer. Add the rice, and stir once. Reduce the heat to very low. Cover the pan and simmer very gently for 15-17 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the lid and place a clean tea towel over the pan then return the lid tightly. Leave for 10-20 minutes to absorb the excess steam.
- Meanwhile, dry fry all the nuts in a pan until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
- Combine the lamb and all that was strained with it (discard the cinnamon stick) in a saucepan with the yoghurt and 1/2 cup of the lamb cooking liquid. Over a moderate heat, bring this to a light simmer and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Arrange the rice into a low mound on a large platter then carefully arrange on top the lamb in yoghurt sauce. Scatter over the nuts and parsley generously and serve immediately. You can also serve lemon wedges alongside for your guests to use as they see fit. This dish should serve about 4-6 people.
Nutrition (per serving)
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