Friday, October 2, 2009

Chicken Mansaf - Cuisine of Jordan

I stumbled upon the Walima club, a group of food bloggers who have doggedly decided to blog their way through the Middle East, get this, one alphabet letter at a time. I LURV me some Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, so I thought I'd tag along, and hopped on board at the letter J - which meant September was the month for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Of course this is October, but hey, I guess that makes me a little Tardy for the Party.
Har, har, har.....
Petra - one of the Seven Wonders opf the World - is located in Jordan - (pic - source wikipedia)

There were two options, the savoury Mansaf dish, and the sweet Kunafa. I could not source the pastry needed for the Kunafa - it looks like a kind of vermicelli - so I went with making the Mansaf and used chicken instead of the more traditional lamb.
Mansaf is the de facto national dish of Jordan. It consists of meat stewed with spices in a fermented dried yoghurt called jameed.
Enter problem #1 - No jameed - so I subbed with yoghurt, strained to make it a little thicker because guess what people - I can never find Greek yoghurt in my local grocery store. Problem #2 - Greek Gods of Thick Yoghurt -where art thou in my neck of the woods?

The plating is apparently quite elaborate, first layers of traditional flatbread, followed by aromatic rice, finally topped with the meat, and garnished with pine nuts and almonds.

All in all, I liked my rendition (given I've never tasted the original dish!) - it has a fragrant thick and tangy sauce from the yoghurt, though I did go a little overboard with the bahaarat spice (Gulf Spice mix - which I sourced from the lovely ladies at Arabic Bites) and so my version had a little extra zing. After reading it up online, I chose to add the yoghurt after cooking the chicken in spice, which is the opposite of the original method. Chalk that up to an illogical fear of curdled yoghurt...I have issues, people....

Apologies for the appaling photo, it was late by the time I had the whole dish assembled and hungry hands were fast approaching....

Chicken Mansaf (sourced from Walima Arabia)

1lb chicken thighs - boneless, cut into bite sized pieces
1lb chicken breast - boneless, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
2-3 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups thick yoghurt
2 cups jasmine rice
1 Tbsp butter

slivered almonds and pine nuts - to garnish
3 pita bread - sliced in half and then cut into wedges

1. Mince garlic and onion, heat oil in large saucepan. Add onion and garlic to pan.
2. Add chicken pieces, gulf spice mix, turmeric and paprika and a little salt to taste.
3. Continue cooking till chicken is done, you may need to add water to allow for some gravy. Remove from heat. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
4. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat yoghurt, whilst stirring all the time. When yoghurt begins to boil, remove from heat.
5. Add yoghurt to the chicken and stir well till combined over low heat. Keep stirring to prevent yoghurt from curdling and reduce further till a thick gravy forms.
6. Fry washed and drained rice in butter in a separate pan, add water to cook.
7. Assemble in a platter - layer the wedges of pita bread, use some of the chicken gravy to "wet" the bread. Next add the rice, then the chicken. Finally, add some toasted pine nuts and almonds to garnish.


Jaya Wagle said...

Did I tell you before you were a brave girl Ann? I love me some falafals and humus, but that's as far as I go with Middle Eastern food. Nothing against the food, just don't have the patience to assemble ingredients, prep and cook.
The Mansaf sounds good though. What does the Gulf Spice Mix have?

Arabic Bites said...

Thank you so much for the comment on my blog :)
I am so glad that you tried the spice mix.
The Chicken Mansaf looks so tasty :D

zainab :)

s said...

i am such a HUGE fan of M.E cuisine really looks good..i wanna be part of the 'fast approaching hands' too..sob sob!!

Arlette said...

Hello Ann

Sorry for my late visit, but better later than never!!!!
Great dish and nice presentation.
Thanks so much for participating in the Challenge.

Taste of Beirut said...

I admire your tenacity. I am not sure I would have tried a dish like that without someone guiding me . In any case, you did it and congrats!
In Lebanon, we always cook yoghurt with a starch and (or) an egg to prevent curdling, unless it is goat yoghurt.
Take care and I appreciate your visits always!

Touria said...

it looks so delicious