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« March 12, 2006 - March 18, 2006 | Main | May 7, 2006 - May 13, 2006 »

April 18, 2006

MANSAF: THE PRIDE OF JORDANIAN CUISINE by Habeeb Salloum

Jordanmansaf















    The first time I sat down to a feast featuring mansaf was in the countryside near Amman, the capital of Jordan.  Surrounded by distinguished-looking men in flowing Arab robes, I reclined quietly beside my host around a steaming platter of rice covered with lamb and nuts. The conversation was almost zilch as we gorged ourselves on tender and succulent meat served over steaming rice, made even tastier by the yogurt and spices.
    Being an honoured guest, my host picked out for me the choicest pieces of meat as he urged me on.  In the best tradition of Arab hospitality he made sure that I was overfed.  Of course, I did not need much encouragement.  Every mouthful of the appetizing food made me crave for more.  It was a feast that I have always remembered.
    In Jordan mansaf, the pride of Jordanian cuisine and the national dish of the country is usually prepared for and served to esteemed guests primarily on special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries.  The dish possesses an important symbolic function within social gatherings, it being offered as the ultimate to the honoured guest.  The daily family food of the people is often not as sumptuous but healthier - much of it relating to earlier times when most of the inhabitants of today's Jordan were poor Bedouins, peppered with a few peasants.
    Mansaf stands as the ultimate of Jordanian cuisine - a part of Arab gastronomy, which is one of the world's most sophisticated and elaborate cuisines.  Jordanian food, although having some unique attributes, is part of this Middle Eastern distinctive culinary heritage, but stemming more from traditional Bedouin cooking.
     A mansaf feast is taken seriously, and hours are spent in its preparations.  A dish of lamb seasoned with herbs and spices, it is served on a large platter on a bed of rice in a tangy yogurt sauce and sprinkled with almonds and pine nuts.  Traditionally, the yogurt used is jameed, a type of salted dried goat milk.
    The main course of a mansaf meal usually begins with several varieties of mazza, or hors d'oeuvres and with several salads as side dishes.   Bread, usually khoubz sh'rak, a large thin, round unleavened bread, accompanies every meal and a dessert or fresh fruit ends a meal.  Lastly, comes the famous Arabic coffee without which no meal is complete. 

 

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April 16, 2006

Questions I recieve via email and through comments by Farid Zadi

I get a lot of emails and comments with food questions. Over time I have found many repeat questions. Rather than repeat my answers via email or on the blogs I will post them this thread in bookofraiforum.

You can also join the forum to post the questions yourself. There are other members who can help you with your questions,

Book of Rai Food Forum

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