Mansaf is a typical Bedouin dish that comes from Hebron in the West Bank. It is served at large family gatherings, for celebrations or simply to honor special guests. Traditionally it was made with a whole lamb, with the lamb’s head proudly placed in the middle of the dish to indicate that the animal had been slaughtered for the occasion; but nowadays it is more often than not made with a shoulder, leg or shanks. The meat is cooked in a yogurt sauce made with jameed, or dried yogurt. Jameed is how Bedouins preserve the milk from their goats. To make it, the yogurt is drained in cotton sacks to remove the whey and salted every day until it thickens. The sacks are regularly rinsed with water on the outside to get rid of every trace of whey. The strained yogurt is then rolled into balls (either round or with a pointed top) and set to dry in the shade (if dried under direct sun, the jameed will be yellow instead of white) until the balls of jameed are rock hard to the core, after which they are stored away. Jameed is mixed with water to reconstitute it before being used in this dish. You can also make mansaf with fresh yogurt, although the flavor will not be as sour (the fermentation process gives jameed a particular flavor that imparts a faintly sour taste to the lamb as it cooks). I personally use a mixture of jameed for the sour flavor and fresh yogurt for creaminess. I have adapted the recipe below from one I found in a small Arabic cookbook, "The Palestinian Kitchen." In the original recipe, the lamb is cooked in the yogurt-jameed mixture from the outset, but the yogurt can curdle during such long cooking, so I boil the lamb separately, then finish it in the yogurt sauce. While the flavor may not be quite so intense, the consistency of the sauce is creamier. You can also make mansaf with chicken but the dish will not be as celebratory as when made with lamb.
Bill Addison, Anissa Helou • Los Angeles Times • February 26, 2021
Mansaf is a typical Bedouin dish that comes from Hebron in the West Bank. It is served at large family gatherings, for celebrations or simply to honor special guests. Traditionally it was made with a whole lamb, with the lamb’s head proudly placed...
The full article can be read on the Los Angeles Times website.

Related Articles

The secret ingredient to a lavish Bedouin feast

Bill Addison • Los Angeles Times • February 27, 2021
A Trader Joe’s fan account had posted a jar of the spice blend in January that showed the label. Among the listed ingredients are coriander, chickpea flour, sunflower oil and lemon oil. Yeah. La. Earlier this month a video clip circulated on the...

Palestinian cookbooks help preserve a culture's identity

Bill Addison • Los Angeles Times • July 2, 2020
The deep red of ground sumac brings to mind the ripest strawberry, though the spice’s flavor veers lemony and tart — like a floral vinegar distilled into powder. Its brightness defines sumaqqiyeh, a Palestinian stew with origins in Gaza City,...

Overeating Lebanese at Anaheim's Victory Bakery N Restaurant

Edwin Goei • OC Weekly • September 25, 2008
The Thrill of Victory . . .And the agony of overeating at the county’s greatest Lebanese bakery and restaurant   I didn’t fast before going to Victory Bakery’s Ramadan buffet. In fact, my stomach was still in the middle of digesting a big lunch....

The Feast Days of Summer

Edwin Goei • OC Weekly • August 12, 2010
Every day is a holiday for someone somewhere in this world—did you know, for instance, that Aug. 12, the day this issue hits newsstands and the Internet, is simultaneously the Glorious Twelfth in the United Kingdom (meant to commemorate the start...

Review: At Middle Eastern restaurants, it all starts with hummus. Jonathan Gold says Bavel's is magnificent

Jonathan Gold • Los Angeles Times • June 15, 2018
The seriousness of a Middle Eastern restaurant rests in its hummus. Grainy, vaguely sour hummus is OK to send off in your children’s brown-bag lunches, and the mayonnaise-y over-garlicked stuff may be exactly what you want to see alongside a...