Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Mansaf is the de facto national dish of Jordan.  It consists of chicken or lamb slow-cooked in yogurt and served over a layer of thin unleavened bread covered with rice and pine nuts.  Eating mansaf is a special occasion, and is usually enjoyed in a large group setting.

My host family is originally from Karak in southern Jordan.  They claim that the best mansaf is made in Karak.  Last Tuesday, they prepared chicken mansaf.  

The entire family was there, including my host mom Hala, her brother Sahel, her mother, her sister Abeer and 2 nieces (Sandra and Sara).  Also joining us were my roommate and fellow AMIDEAST student Chris, Ranim (Marwa's sister), and Naseem, a friend of Hala's from Australia, and his wife, as well as other friends of the family.

The meal started with a lively conversation over a glass of arak - a grape and anise-based liquor reminiscent of ouzo.  We then posed for pictures with the mansaf:

From L-R: Naseer's wife, our host grandma, and Naseer, with mansaf.

The mansaf was delicious - the chicken was very soft after being slow-cooked in the yogurt, and blended well with the pine nuts and rice.

Following dinner was coffee/tea and kanafehs (shredded phyllo dough, cheese, and a sweet syrup, with crushed pistachios sprinkled on top) for dessert.

The leftovers lasted for 2-3 additional days, and eventually ended up in a lentil soup:

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