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melamed

Dried Yogurt

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While shopping for groceries in Madaba Jordan I noticed something that looked like sesame halva. When I asked the grocer he told me it was dried yogurt (jiben?). I was told that it is used to make the traditional Bedouin Mansaf. Mansaf is a dish made of lamb cooked in yogurt on a bed of aromatic rice and pine nuts. It is eaten with flat bread. Does anybody have a good recipe for mansaf and is there any other uses for the dried yogurt. (I was told it is diluted with water and mint for stomach ailments)

thanks

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This sounds absolutely facinating and I know nothing about it. So, hanging here with you hoping for someone who knows to come along.

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This sounds absolutely facinating and I know nothing about it. So, hanging here with you hoping for someone who knows to come along.

according to our bedouin guide, this yogurt is made by boiling and removing the liquid which floats to the top, it is strained, shaped into balls and left outside in the sun to dry completely. It can be stored at room temperature for up to a year.

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I've made many a mansaf, but not a traditional Bedouin one. Bedouin mansaf tends to be a little too heavy for my taste. Plus, I prefer chicken mansaf to lamb mansaf -- a preference the Bedouins might consider blasphemous. ;)

Anyway, I don't have a recipe, but here's the general procedure. Since this is a dish that can be made to serve few or many, I'm not going to give proportions. However, if you've ever eaten mansaf, then you'll have a good idea of how much of each component to use.

1. Simmer lamb (shoulder is best, cut into cubes of 3" or so) or chicken (bone-in) pieces with onions (halved or quartered -- it doesn't matter) and garlic (smashed -- no need to chop) in enough water to cover by a few inches. You can add packaged "mansaf seasoning" or add whatever Middle Eastern seasonings you like (cumin, coriander, etc.). If using chicken (or at least the plumped-up American chickens to which I'm accustomed), I like the Chinese poaching method, which is to bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat, and let it sit, covered and undisturbed, for an hour. This method keeps the chicken tender and succulent. If using lamb, simmer on low heat for roughly 2 hours, until meat is fork-tender (you may need more time if your lamb is tough -- use your judgment). Skim any foam that comes to the surface as the lamb simmers. Also skim off any fat that rises to the top (the dairy you add later will provide additional fat), unless you prefer the Bedouin style and/or really like grease. :)

1a. While chicken/lamb simmers, prepare some yellow rice. Also chop some parsley and toast some almonds/pine nuts.

2. Remove lamb/chicken from pot and set aside. Strain cooking liquid and return to pot, discarding onion and garlic solids.

3. Add dairy (and maybe acid) to broth to make yogurt sauce/soup. I prefer labneh, or you can use dried yogurt (kishk, jameed, etc.), or plain yogurt and/or sour cream (not as rich, though you can augment it with cream cheese). Adjust salt/pepper and add garlic if desired. If your yogurt/labneh/jameed is not tangy, you will probably need to add acid to make it tangy -- you can use lemon juice or citric acid. However, there is a chance that the acid might curdle the dairy, so either add it at the end, or use a stick blender to smooth it. Also, you may or may not want to thicken the sauce with a small amount of starch or flour slurry. Overall, it should be the consistency of a very thin gravy.

4. Return meat/chicken to pot with yogurt sauce, and let it simmer briefly, while you complete the rest of the dish, in order to absorb some of the yogurt flavor.

5. Prepare your platter(s). Use a large, deep platter -- those round melamine platters, about 2-3" deep, are ubiquitous in the Middle East and perfect for mansaf. Put down a layer of bread. Traditional Bedouin mansaf is made traditional thin Bedouin bread (shrak). Alternatively, you can use cut or torn pieces of any flat or pita bread. Ladle some of the yogurt sauce from the pot onto the bread and allow it to soak.

6. Top bread layer with rice. Arrange meat/chicken pieces on top of rice. Sprinkle parsley and nuts over top. Serve with yogurt sauce/soup -- I like to set out a bowl for each diner.

The Bedouin way of eating mansaf is to gather around the platter and dig in with the clean fingers of the diner's right hand. That's a very messy way of eating! So, another traditional method is for diners to gather around the platter and eat with spoons (etiquette dictates that each diner sticks to his/her own section). But, these days, most people just use individual plates/place settings for each diner. You end up with more dishes to wash afterward, but the dining experience is more hygienic. :)

Enjoy!

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Nolafoodie! You are fantastic, thanks for the recipe. I have eaten mansaf but it wasn't an authentic recipe with yogurt, (it was kosherized using tehini paste) Now I am thinking, how can I get myself invited to an authentic bedouin dinner, I would love to taste real mansaf before I attempt it at home. (I have only one galil bedouin connection).

Is mansaf a dish very popular with the Palestinians? I know it is typically considered a bedouin dish.

I suppose the bedouins like it so greasy is because it is not something they eat everyday, their regular food would have been more basic- camel yogurt perhaps.

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while not taking away from Nolafoodies excellent recipe, i will toss in my two cents for authenticity.

Mansaf is the name for the dish made with dried ewes milk/yoghurt known as jameed. all other variations, while they make for excellent dishes, are something else entirely.

the lamb meat for mansaf is typically cut, with the bone in, into 6" pieces and stewed with onions and minor seasoning (basically limited salt, pepper, and allspice, maybe a little cinnamon). once the meat is almost but not quite cooked, it is taken out of the liquid and set aside.

the dried jameed is reconstituted in a food liquidiser. the big chunks are broken up by hand into marble sized pieces and then put in the liquidiser a small amount at a time. they are softened with some of the meat stock made from cooking the lamb. the idea is to emulsify the yoghurt, so this needs to be done in small batches. traditionally this was done by rubbing the dried yoghurt by hand in an earthenware pot, but a liquidiser works pretty well.

once the jameed is a thick liquid, it can be thinned out with more stock until its a thin sauce (almost like a meat jus)

It is then heated in a pot, and the meat is added for a thirty minute simmer to finish cooking and to infuse the lamb with the yoghurt taste.

it is normally presented in a large dish with the rice on the bottom, the meat pieces on top of the rice in the center, and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts and almonds.

the jameed is ladled on the rice at the edges to finish the dish.

the traditional eating method is by hand, a person would take some of the rice which becomes sticky from the added jameed, and shred a piece of meat on top of it, he/she would form it into something of a sphere about 1.5" in size and pop it into the mouth.

for a less messy service, rice is served into a bowl, and more jameed is poured onto it to make it moist, and a piece of lamb would be served on top or alongside.

traditional accompaniments are spring onions and radishes, and it is quite common to pour some hot jameed into a glass to drink while eating the dish.

where jameed is not available, a combination of labneh (unsweetened greek yoghurt) and a soft goats cheese will give a similar though significantly milder effect. lamb meat that has been deboned and cut into 1" cubes can also be used, but the lack of gelatin from the bones takes away from the final dish.

the cooking of lamb meat with yoghurt is very common in the bedouin tradition, and almost any yoghurt will work, giving rise to different dishes. it is also common to put meat filled tortellini or round kibbe (meat filled bulghur wheat balls) in the lamb sauce instead of or in addition to the meat.

many regional dishes that are typically made with tomato sauces are also adapted with yoghurt sauces like stuffed courgettes so the variations are practically endless.

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thanks for your version of mansaf, Maher. Jameed was sold in every little grocery store I went to in Jordan, so Mansaf is indeed very popular.

There is a Christian Arab butcher in Jaffa, called Hinawi, I think I will go there and see if he has any good quality lamb for this dish.

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