Auntie Anwaar’s Mansaf Risotto


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Jewelled Kitchen

The Jewelled Kitchen

By Bethany Kehdy

Published 2013

  • About

Traditionally, this quintessentially Bedouin dish is prepared using jmeed, which is a dried yogurt or buttermilk sometimes called rock cheese. Anwaar Younis gave me her recipe for Jordan’s national dish, which I’ve tweaked a little. Mansaf is a communal dish and a great symbol of generosity that is often served on special occasions. Sometimes eaten with the right hand, the meat is torn apart and rolled into a ball, which is then dipped into the yogurt. Jmeed is not easy to source in the West, so I have used Greek yogurt instead.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes, plus making the bread
Cooking Time: hours


  • 30 g/1 oz/2 tbsp salted butter
  • 850 g/1 lb 14 oz lamb shank(s)
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 10 garlic cloves, 5 left whole and 5 pounded using a pestle and mortar or crushed
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 200 g/7 oz/1 cup short-grain or risotto rice
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 750 ml/26 fl oz/ cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch, if needed
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp blanched almonds
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 loaves of warm Arabic Bread
  • mint leaves, finely chopped, to sprinkle
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, add the lamb shank(s), carrots, onion, whole garlic cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaf and cinnamon stick and cook for 4–5 minutes, turning frequently, until the meat has browned. Season with salt to taste, then cover with 1.25 l/44 fl oz/ cups water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, then cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Strain well, reserving the stock and the meat, but discarding the vegetables and spices.
  2. Put the rice, 750 ml/26 fl oz/ cups of the reserved stock and the turmeric in a separate heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes or until the rice is cooked through and all the stock has been absorbed, adding a little more stock as needed and stirring every so often to achieve a creamy texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, separate the meat from the bone, cut into smaller pieces and set aside. Put the yogurt in the pan the meat was cooked in and place over a medium heat, then add the egg and whisk well. Return the meat to the pan and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often so that the yogurt doesn’t catch, for 15–20 minutes until the yogurt is thick and creamy. If the mixture is too runny, add the cornflour/cornstarch and mix until thickened.
  4. Toast the pine nuts and almonds in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until golden, shaking the pan often.
  5. Put the crushed garlic in a small bowl, add the lemon juice and mix. To serve, lay out the Arabic Bread on a large serving platter and pour the garlic mixture over it. Spoon over the rice, then spoon over a couple of tablespoons of the lamb and yogurt mixture. Scatter with the meat pieces and then sprinkle over the toasted nuts and mint. Serve the remaining cooked yogurt on the side.