Spiced lamb in yoghurt

The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Alan Benson

Apparently it is a popular misconception to regard mansaaf as a Jordanian feast. I have been assured by Jordanian friends that mansaaf is actually a dish served at feasts. The Palestinians also prepare this, calling it mansi.

As a favour to my friends, I shall now set the record straight, and give you the recipe. Of course in Jordan they would probably use a whole lamb, though it is scaled down for normal meals.


Quantity Ingredient
1.5kg lamb shoulder, on the bone, cut by your butcher into 6 evenly sized pieces
or 1.5kg lamb shoulder chops, thickly cut
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
60g Samneh
or 60g ghee
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 small piece cinnamon bark
1 quantity Laban mutboukh
40g pine nuts


  1. Place the lamb in a saucepan and add just enough cold water to cover. Bring slowly to the boil, skimming as required. When well skimmed and boiling, season with salt and pepper, then cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the samneh in a frying pan and fry the pine nuts until golden. Remove the pine nuts to a plate, draining the samneh back into the pan.
  3. Add the onion to the pan and gently fry until translucent. Stir in the turmeric, allspice and cinnamon and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir this mixture into the simmering lamb.
  4. Meanwhile, make the laban mutboukh and set aside.
  5. After the lamb has been simmering for 1 hour, remove the lid and reduce the liquid until it half covers the lamb.
  6. Now add the laban mutboukh, shaking the pan to combine it evenly with the liquid. Leave to simmer gently over low heat until the lamb is tender and the sauce is thick. If the sauce must be stirred, only stir in one direction.
  7. Remove the cinnamon and add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve piled on a serving platter, sprinkled with the pine nuts. Serve hot, with riz mufalfal.


  • To serve in the traditional manner, line the serving platter with split khoubiz as a substitute for the paper-thin shirak bread of Jordan. Pile on the rice (riz mufalfal) and cover with the lamb and yoghurt mixture. Sprinkle with pine nuts.
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Middle Eastern
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