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Mansaaf (Spiced Lamb)

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“While living abroad, I learned some wonderful dishes. This is one of them, my friend Widaad taught me. It's usually cooked with a dry yogurt that's formed into hard balls, and needs an all night soaking to soften, but since we can't get those here in the states, I've improvised for the yogurt sauce. It's still good, but if you ever visit Jordan, do try it the traditional way. It's wonderful.”
2hrs 20mins

Ingredients Nutrition

  • Main
  • 3 lbs lamb shoulder, on the bone cut into 6 even sized pieces (this is preferred but if you can't get it, 6 large pieces of lamb will do)
  • water
  • salt and pepper
  • 14 cup clarified butter
  • 14 cup pine nuts (optional)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 12 teaspoons turmeric
  • 12 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 piece cinnamon or 1 piece cassia
  • Laban Mutboukh (cooked yogurt)
  • 2 cups full fat yogurt (skim and fat free wont work, they'll come out too thin)
  • 1 egg white, beaten till frothy
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Place lamb in a large pan and just cover with water.
  2. Bring to boil slowly, skimming off froth (this is blood and wont taste good if left in).
  3. When clean and boiling, add salt and pepper as desired, cover and simmer about 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat butter in a skillet, and add snoober nuts, sautéing till golden.
  5. Remove, keeping butter in the pan as much as possible, and set nuts aside.
  6. Add onion to pan, frying gently until clear.
  7. Then stir in turmeric, allspice and cinnamon all at once and cook another 2 minutes only.
  8. Add onion mixture to the lamb.
  9. Meanwhile, prepare Laban mutboukh as follows:Place the yogurt in a heavy pan.
  10. Blend beaten egg whites with cornflour and add salt, stirring into the yogurt until well mixed.
  11. Place pan over medium heat, and stirring constantly, heat until it begins to boil.
  12. It's important to stir in the same direction, or so my grandma always said.
  13. Lower the heat and let simmer, uncovered about 3-5 minutes or until thickened.
  14. Set aside.
  15. When lamb as cooked about 1 hour, remove the lid, cooking until the liquid has been reduced so it's covering only half the lamb.
  16. Then add laban mutboukh, shaking the pan instead of stirring to blend.
  17. Simmer over low heat until lamb is tender and sauce is thickened.
  18. If it can't be helped, and sauce must be stirred, do so in one direction.
  19. Adjust salt and pepper as desired and remove cinnamon.
  20. Pile the mansaaf on a serving plate, sprinkling with the snoober nuts.
  21. Serve with hot cooked rice.
  22. Mansaaf is usually eaten over the rice with the sauce poured generously over the top.

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