Mansaf, Fatiyeh, or Fatihah this traditional middle eastern lamb stew in yogurt sauce is a big part of Arabic cuisine. It is a favorite dish for large gatherings including weddings and engagement parties. In short it plays a large part in Middle Eastern hospitality.
In my experience folks in the Arab world are very hospitable and generous. Rolling out a huge tray of Mansaf is a sign of respect and welcome to anyone visiting an Arab home whether it be in Jordan, Dubai, Europe, or America.
But of course this traditional dish has several names depending on the country or even city one is in. In most countries like Jordan and Lebanon it’s called Mansaf; it’s the same dish Palestinians from the West Bank call Fatiyeh or Fatihah and those who hail closer to the larger cities call Mensaf. Whatever it’s called it’s basically the same dish with a few regional additions to the toppings.
So what is Mansaf? It’s a dish typically made with Lamb that’s simmered in a yogurt sauce made from reconstituted “Chisitch/Kishk/Jameed” (fermented or dried sheeps’ milk yogurt.) Then the meat and sauce are served on a bed of torn unleavened bread like Shrak or pita and rice. The whole dish can be topped with fresh parsley and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts; or as I’ve been taught by some of my Palestinian husband’s friends a ring of fried onions and tomatoes.
Really the secret ingredient, or not so secret, is the Chisitch. Okay it’s not the easiest thing to get your hands on. I usually get the dried balls of Chisitch from my husband’s relatives who travel to and from the Middle East or my sister-in-law who actually makes it! I’ve also been able to buy it from a market in Oman during one of my trips there. But you might be able to find it at a middle eastern market where it’s usually called Kishk or Jameed. It’s available in liquid or powder form. Or you can believe it or not order it from Amazon by clicking this affiliate link!
If all else fails and you simply can not get a hold of Chisitch/Kishk/Jameed then use Buttermilk! Yes the carton you find in your grocer’s diary section. Good old fashioned buttermilk, the stuff you can use to make Buttermilk pancakes and biscuits!
If you’re using balls of chisitch from where ever you must reconstitute it – meaning soak the balls in water overnight, then place all of it in your blender until it is liquified. You might need to add water to the blender to get the liquid you need.
If you’re using powdered kishk or jameed then dissolve it in water. Obviously the easiest one to use would be liquid jameed or buttermilk.
Whichever one you use the real secret is to keep the jameed or kishk liquid from curdling when you add it to your meat. To do that you must temper it by slowly stirring the liquid into a little bit of lamb broth. This brings the temperature of the jameed up to the temperature of the stewed meat.
So if you want to try this yummy dish at home scroll down for my recipe. It’s pretty fussy, it takes me a whole afternoon too make it! This recipe is for a fairly small tray, you can double or triple it if you need to make a large tray for more people.
By the way Mansaf or Fatihah is traditionally eaten with one’s fingers right off the serving tray. The polite and proper way to eat this dish is to use your fingers to take bite-sized portions from the tray and pop it in your mouth. You take portions only from the meat and rice that is directly in front of you; respect other diner’s tray space. That’s how it’s traditionally eaten; at our house it’s served family style with a serving spoon used to spoon a portion on to each person’s plate and we uses forks and knives.
I’ve heard it said many times that Lebanese cooking is the best cuisine the Middle Eastern countries have to offer. Lebanese restaurants are the go to places when one has a yen for Arabic or Middle Eastern food. This seems to be one of the few things that Arabs from around the world can mostly agree on.
I must confess that in my experience this is usually true. Lebanese cooking is definitely top notch and any where we travel we look for a Lebanese restaurant. Among my favorites are Al Halabi in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates and Wafi Gourmet in both the Dubai Mall and Wafi Mall; Reem Al Bawadi in Amman; and Mandaloun not far from the Spanish Steps in Rome.
But what makes Lebanese cuisine so great? I’m not exactly sure, but I believe that one of its secrets are the spices they use. Their Lebanese 7 Spices Mix in my opinion is the key to their delicious entrees.
Lebanese 7 Spices Mix contains many of the spices found in cuisine in and around that region. It has cumin and coriander for sure and 6 other spices making it actually an 8 spices mix. Why it’s called 7 Spices is beyond me unless the ground black pepper isn’t counted as a spice.
Anyway whatever you call it seasoning grilled meats and stews with this Lebanese 7 Spices Mix makes for a delicious meal! I like to keep a jar on hand and use it in marinades and of course for one of the family’s favorite dishes Mesaf or Fatiyeh, a dish of stewed meat in yogurt sauce.
You can mix up a batch of Lebanese 7 Spices Mix to add to your stews too. Just be sure you store it in an airtight container. I use pint sized mason jars to store all my spice mixes.
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A Beef Shawarma sandwich or plate! Yum! It’s one of my favorites. It’s one of the things I always order when I find myself at a Middle Eastern restaurant anywhere in the world.
Shawarma is sort of like the Greek Gyro or Turkish Doner Kebab; it’s a cone of seasoned meat or meats that’s cooked on a vertical spit. Typically beef, lamb, and chicken are combined to form the large hunk of meat which is slowly grilled as it turns on its axis on the vertical spit. Pieces of cooked meat are shaved off and stuffed in a pita with sauces, veggies, and pickles or placed on a plate with a serving of salad, hummus, rice, and pita bread.
I believe Shawarma started out as Middle Eastern street food where the sandwiches can be taken to go and eaten on as you go. But these days you’ll find mixed meats, beef, and chicken shawarma on fast food and restaurant menus throughout the Middle East and beyond.
We love this tasty dish so much that we make it at home since there really aren’t any good Middle Eastern restaurants where we live. Recently I’ve started making Beef Shawarma in my Instant Pot! It’s the easiest and fastest way to make it!
We usually make Beef Shawarma sandwiches but we’ve also made Beef Shawarma plates and bowls. We also use the leftover meat to top hummus, assuming we havhttp://www.savvynana.com/wp-admin/e leftovers that is!
But really the secret to this Beef Shawarma that tastes like you got it from a Middle Eastern restaurant isn’t in the way it’s cooked, the secret’s in the spice mix that’s rubbed on the meat! Marinating the meat overnight ensures that the meat is infused with the exotic flavors of the spices. Cooking it in the Instant Pot just makes the cooking process faster, but you can actually make it in the oven or on a grill if you don’t own this handy dandy electric pressure cooker.
Once you make the Beef Shawarma you can make it into a sandwich and top with your favorite toppings such as hummus, tahini sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, and I love it with Tzatziki sauce! (I know I’m mixing Arabic and Greek foods, but who cares? It tastes great!)
To make Instant Pot Beef Shawarma you’ll first need to make some of the Shawarma Spice Mix, so click here for the recipe!
Then scroll down for the Instant Pot Beef Shawarma recipe!
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Shawarma is a typical Middle Eastern street food that’s sold on street corner kiosks, fast food joints, and restaurants in Middle Eastern countries and beyond.
It’s sort of similar to the Greek Gyro but is seasoned with different spices and allowed to marinate for at least a few hours. It’s usually cooked very much like the Turkish Doner Kebab which is a cone of mixed meats (beef, lamb, and chicken) cooked on a vertical spit. Typically it’s served as a Shawarma Sandwich which is pita bread stuffed with shaved meat, tahini sauce, and fresh and pickled veggies. It can also be served as a plate with rice, salad, hummus, and pita bread.
Today most Middle Eastern restaurants and fast food places serve specific shawarma meats such as beef or chicken shawarma in a sandwich or as a plate. Needless to say both are very popular in our family!
But the real secret to Shawarma isn’t the meat or the way it’s cooked. The secret lies in the spices used. You can make shawarma in your oven, grill, and even in your Instant Pot. In fact I always make it in my Instant Pot! I’m working on an article to share how to make Beef Shawarma in an Instant Pot; but before I can make any type of shawarma using any method I have to season the meat!
I’m actually a big believer in spice rubs. I make all sorts of rubs for different things such as my Basic BBQ Chicken Rub. I mean sauces are great for adding flavor to meat after it’s cooked, but what really gives meat great flavor are rubs and marinades. So if you want to make homemade shawarma that tastes like you ordered it from a Middle Eastern restaurant you’ll need this Shawarma Spice Mix.
I usually mix up a large batch; large meaning enough mix to fill a quart sized Mason Jar. I store my Shawarma Spice Mix in a sealed jar in my pantry, it stays fresh for about 3 months, assuming you don’t use it all before then! The spice mix can be used for beef or chicken shawarma and can even be added to other recipes when you’re wanting to add a touch of exotic flavorings.
To use the mix as a marinade for shawarma I use a teaspoon of mix per pound of meat. Combine the mix with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, and a pinch of salt then massage it on to the meat. Place the meat in a ziplock bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours but no longer than 24 hours.
So scroll down for the Shawarma Spice Mix recipe!
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