The ancient history of Mansaf
Mansaf was already mentioned in the Bible; Genesis 18: 6-8. Abraham, in Quran known as Ibrahim, and his wife Sarah prepare food that was similar to Thereed:
6 And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” 7 And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. 8 Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
Mansaf's place in the Jordanian culture
We serve Mansaf on special occasions such as weddings, births, big family gatherings, main holidays, and to honor guests. Today’s traditions also originate from Bedouin traditions. Serving Mansaf is usually done by the host of the special occasion. The host offers this dish to the guests as a symbol of hospitality, appreciation, and respect for them. The used meat is an essential value indicator. Goat meat is for the most respected and valued guests, followed by lamb meat and chicken. The animal’s head will be served on the platter, which is shared with the most important guests. It is a symbol of respect and hospitality. The host will keep pouring sauce on the rice to let the guests enjoy a moistured bite. The constant attention for the guests, is a reflection of excellent hospitality, celebrating and valuing the guest’s presence. It is an honor to be invited to such a special occasion. In case you are a vegetarian, remember that it is polite to eat a small piece of meat.
Preparing and eating Mansaf
Traditionally the three main local ingredients used to prepare Mansaf are wheat, goat milk, and lamb meat. These days imported rice often is the fourth ingredient. Making Mansaf is a social gathering. From preparing to eating, every family member has his or her task. The men slaughter the lamb. And the women make the flatbread called Shark. The women are also in charge of the rehydration of the Jameed to a broth. Jameed is a tasty fermented and then dried yogurt-like product. We cook the lamb parts for several hours in the Jameed broth.
We serve Mansaf on a large platter. First, the women put a layer of flatbread on the plate. Then we put the rice and meat on the bread. And finally, part of the sauce is poured over the whole platter. The dish can be garnished with peanuts, almonds, and parsley if available.
Traditionally Mansaf is eaten together. The men and women have their own platter. We cozy sit around them and use our right hand to eat. We believe that using your hand for eating gives the food a far better taste than when we use cutlery.