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Mansaf (Jordan’s National Dish)

Mansaf is best served with Egyptian rice, which can be found at most Mediterranean markets or online. (A pinch of turmeric should be added to the rice water for a golden effect.) Jameed, a salted and sun-dried goat’s-milk yogurt, is sold in hard, compressed balls.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. jameed, cut or broken into coarse pieces
  • 1½ tsp. ground allspice
  • ½ tsp. ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp. ground turmeric, plus a pinch for the rice water
  • 6 ½ lb. bone-in lamb shoulder, cleaned well and cut into 8 large chunks
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1–2 loaves shrak or lavash (very thin, round Arabic bread)
  • 8–10 cups steamed Egyptian rice
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
  • Flat-leaf parsley, for topping

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, add the jameed and enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Let soak at room temperature overnight.

  2. In a small bowl, combine the allspice, cardamom, and turmeric. In a second large bowl, add the lamb and the spice mixture, tossing well to evenly coat.

  3. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot and shimmery, add the lamb and sear evenly on all sides, 12–15 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a heatproof platter using tongs, pour out and discard any excess grease, then return the lamb to the pot. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch and bring to a low boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a strong simmer and cook until the lamb is tender when poked with a fork, 1 hour.

  4. While the lamb is cooking, drain the jameed and transfer to a blender or food processor. Add 3 cups warm water and purée until the mixture is completely smooth and has the consistency of thin yogurt, adding additional water as needed. In a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl, strain the jameed mixture, discarding any lumps, then set aside.

  5. When the lamb is tender, transfer a heatproof platter using tongs. In a fine-mesh strainer set over a large heatproof bowl, strain the lamb stock, discarding any solids that remain in the strainer. Clean out the pot, then return the lamb and jameed mixture to the pot. Add enough lamb stock to thin the jameed mixture to the consistency of half-and-half, then return the pot to medium-high heat. Bring to a strong simmer, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching the bottom. (The sauce is now referred to as shraab, or "soup.")

  6. When you are ready to serve the mansaf, layer 1 or 2 loaves of shrak over a large round tray or platter, allowing the bread to hang off the edge of the tray by about 1 inch all the way around. Pile the rice into a high mound on the bread, then use tongs to arrange pieces of lamb over the rice.

  7. In a fine-mesh strainer set over a large heatproof pitcher or serving bowl, strain the shraab, discarding any solids. Skim away and discard any excess grease from the liquid and serve alongside the platter of mansaf. Ladle a few spoons of shraab evenly over the mansaf. Sprinkle the pine nuts evenly over the lamb, top with parsley, and serve.