Mansaf – Middle Eastern Lamb Dish

Mansaf – Middle Eastern Lamb Dish

mensaf 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.

To season this dish I use my Lebanese 7 Spices Mix Click here for that recipe!

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.

 

Mansaf
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Mansaf
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place meat in large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil.
  2. While meat boils fat will come to the surface. Skim off fat and discard. Continue this process until fat stops forming on the surface.
  3. Strain meat and set aside while you thoroughly wash out the pot. Dry pot before proceeding.
  4. Heat 1 Tbs. Olive Oil in pot and add 1 portion of chopped onions. Cook onions until they start to soften.
  5. Add meat and Lebanese 7 Spices Mix and stir well. Cook until onions become translucent.
  6. Add beef broth to cover meat. Bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 2 hours.
  8. Meanwhile you can prepare other parts of the dish.
  9. Heat remaining Olive Oil in frying pan and add remaining chopped onions. Cook until onions start to soften.
  10. Add garlic to pan and cook about 1 minute stirring constantly.
  11. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft and juices start to come out. Salt & Pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
  12. Melt 2 Tbs. Butter in saute pan and toast pine nuts until they start to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  13. About 30 minutes before stew is cooked prepare rice by first melting remaining butter in pot.
  14. Add Vermecelli and saute until pasta starts to turn golden brown.
  15. Add dry rice and saute another minute.
  16. Stir in about 4 cups of water to cover the rice. Cook covered over low heat for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked. Let rest at least 5 minutes to absorb any remaining water.
  17. Check you meat. It should be tender and falling off the bone.
  18. If meat is cooked turn down heat very low.
  19. Remove about 1 cup of broth from pot to temper your jameed or buttermilk.
  20. Slowly pour liquid jameed or buttermilk into that broth. Stirring only in one direction as you add the jameed. This is tempering the jameed. It is very important that you stir as you combine the liquids and stir only in one direction to keep the jameed from curdling.
  21. Once the jameed is tempered using the same procedure slowly add the tempered jameed into the pot of stew.
  22. Simmer on low heat for about 20 Minutes.
  23. Meanwhile prepare your serving tray. Break up the bread into pieces and place pieces on to the tray.
  24. Cover bread with rice.
  25. Place meat on the rice. Pour yogurt sauce (liquid you cooked meat in) over the meat and rice.
  26. Spoon tomato mixture around the meat.
  27. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.
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Instant Pot Beef Shawarma

Instant Pot Beef Shawarma

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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Instant Pot Beef Shawarma
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Instant Pot Beef Shawarma
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Ingredients
Beef Shawarma
Sandwich Toppings
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Using a small knife drill 12 holes all over your roast
  2. Stuff a garlic half in each hole
  3. Mix Shawarma Spice Mix with 2 Tbs. ACV and 1 Tbs. Olive Oil
  4. Rub this spice mixture all over the roast then place the meat in a covered dish or ziplock bag and let rest in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. I find that overnight works well.
  5. 30 minutes before cooking set the meat on the counter and let the temperature go down to room temperature
  6. Place remaining olive oil in instant pot and set pot to saute
  7. Sear the meat on all sides for about 5-8 minutes per side
  8. Add beef broth and remaining ACV to the pot
  9. Cover making sure the valve is set to sealing
  10. Set pot on Manual and adjust time to 60 minutes
  11. When pot turns off allow pressure to release naturally
  12. When pot is completely depressurized carefully open the lid and remove the meat
  13. Shred the meat and place in a bowl or baking sheet. At this point you can use the meat to make sandwiches, plates, or bowls. Or if you prefer you can crisp the ends by sprinkling a bit of the broth over the meat and popping the pan in the oven to broil on high for 10 minutes or just until the ends turn darker brown. If you are crisping it keep a close eye on the meat as it will burn quickly in the broiler.
  14. Store any leftovers with a bit of broth to keep it from drying out. Reheat in the microwave or in the over, drizzle some of the broth over the meat before reheating.
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Delicious Chicken Marsala

Delicious Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala

I have been in search of the perfect Chicken Marsala for years.  I think one of the best ones I’ve had was at the Trevi Italian Restaurant in the Forum Shops in Las Vegas.  I’ve yet to find something similar and believe me I’ve tried it at many different restaurants.

Since I can’t exactly fly off to Vegas every time I’ve a yen for Chicken Marsala I did the next best thing.  I wend in search of the best Chicken Marsala recipe I could find.  I’ve actually found several that were pretty good, but with a bit of tweaking here and there I was able to come up with this delicious recipe which everyone in my family loves.  In fact it’s good enough to serve company which is what I did when my daughter’s in-laws came to visit.  They loved it too!

First of all a little background on Chicken Marsala.  I know it’s a classic Italian dish offered at many chain Italian restaurants like Magiano’s, Carabba’s, and Olive Garden.  Like I said everyone seems to have their own version of this dish!  But if you go to a local restaurant in Italy and asked for Chicken Marsala I’m pretty sure they won’t know what that is.  I can’t recall seeing this dish at any of the restaurants in Italy, sort of like asking for Fettucine Alfedo, they don’t have that there!

Chicken Marsala is actually an Italian-American dish that is more than likely a variation of the traditional Italian Scaloppina dishes of which there are many versions in Italy.  Chicken Marsala dates back from the 19th. Century and originated with English families who lived in Italy where Marsala wine is produced.

The dish is composed of thin slices of chicken breasts that are lightly floured and sauteed in a pan.  It is then covered with a sauce made from a Marsala wine reduction.  Some recipes call for the addition of mushrooms, herbs, and tomatoes.  Really the variations are many, but I prefer the simplest variation with just mushrooms so that I can savor the lovely Marsala sauce.

When I make it at home I prefer to serve it with a simple garlic mashed potato side dish, but you can also serve it with a side of Poor Man’s pasta; a simple yet tasty pasta dish.

 

Delicious Chicken Marsala
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Delicious Chicken Marsala
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine Flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a shallow dish.
  2. Melt 2 tbs. butter in the olive oil in a frying pan.
  3. Pat chicken dry with paper towel and dredge thru flour mixture
  4. Fry chicken breasts in oil butter mixture until both sides start to turn brown.
  5. Remove from pan and place in a covered dish or pan.
  6. Add 2 tbs. butter to the remaining oil and saute mushrooms until juices come out and mushrooms are cooked.
  7. Add wine, chicken stock, and garlic to the mushrooms and simmer about 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half
  8. Add heavy whipping cream and cornstarch mixture to the pan - it should slightly thicken. If it's too thick add up to 1/2 cup of wine to thin to desired consistency.
  9. Return cooked chicken to pan and spoon sauce over it.
  10. Cook on stove top until chicken is heated thru.
  11. Gently stir in 2 tbs. of butter.
  12. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
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Keto Friendly Chicken & Asparagus Recipe

Keto Friendly Chicken & Asparagus Recipe

chicken & asparagusMy husband recently embarked on a Keto Diet which means I either have to make him something keto friendly or find keto friendly recipes that the whole family will enjoy. Keto friendly meals aren’t really that hard to come up with, basically you just have to limit or replace the carbs.  So that means pastas are out unless you use edemame spaghetti or other flourless pasta substitutes.  But any way one of our favorites turned out to be this Chicken & Asparagus dish that my husband can eat with a small salad and the rest of the family can eat with pasta or even rice.

My grandkids and even my husband were not big asparagus fans, but after tasting this Chicken & Asparagus dish they decided it was pretty good.  One of the best things about this Chicken & Asparagus dish is that it’s super easy to make, it’s really just a stir fry and can be ready in about a half and hour!

Chicken & Asparagus – A Keto Friendly Dish!

2 Servings

Ingredients

4 Pieces Boneless/Skinless Chicken Thighs cut into chunks

7-8 Stalks Asparagus cut into thirds

2 Tbs. Olive Oil

1 Tbs. Minced Garlic

1 Tsp. Lemon Pepper

1 Tsp. Rosemary

1/2 Tsp. Thyme

1/2 Tsp. Sea Salt

1/2 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Tsp. Parsley

1/2 Cup Chicken Stock

Directions

Combine dry seasonings in a small bowl (not the garlic)

Heat Olive Oil in a wok or deep frying pan

Saute Garlic until it starts to turn brown

Add chicken and seasoning mixture

Cook until chicken is done

Remove chicken from pan and set aside

Add asparagus to pan and cover with chicken stock

Cook until asparagus is tender

Return chicken to pan and toss with asparagus

Turn heat up and cook until liquid is mostly gone – keep stirring so it won’t burn

Serve hot.

Keto Friendly Chicken & Asparagus Recipe
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Servings
2 People
Servings
2 People
Keto Friendly Chicken & Asparagus Recipe
Print Recipe
Servings
2 People
Servings
2 People
Ingredients
Servings: People
Instructions
  1. Combine dry seasonings in a small bowl (not the garlic)
  2. Heat Olive Oil in a wok or deep frying pan
  3. Saute Garlic until it starts to turn brown
  4. Add chicken and seasoning mixture
  5. Cook until chicken is done
  6. Remove chicken from pan and set aside
  7. Add asparagus to pan and cover with chicken stock
  8. Cook until asparagus is tender
  9. Return chicken to pan and toss with asparagus
  10. Turn heat up and cook until liquid is mostly gone Serve hot
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Instant Pot Beef Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

Instant Pot Beef Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

Gyros seem to be getting trendy, even the fast food chains are putting them on their menus.  Makes sense I guess since Gyro (pronounced YEE-roh) can be considered fast food meaning you can grab a sandwich and eat it on the go.  Gyro meat can be either beef, pork, chicken, lamb, or a combination of these meats.  The meat is usually ground up and cooked on a vertical spit then thin slices are shaved off as needed to make plates or sandwiches.  Having grown up in New York City gyros have always been a familiar food, I remember seeing the big hunks of meat rotating behind a window at the corner deli or diner.  Anyway trendy or not we love Gyros, specially beef gyros!

We always grab a gyro or two when we’re in Greece and sometimes in NYC, I mean it’s not like we’re going to set up a huge vertical spit and roast meat for hours.  That’s why the  Instant Pot is a great addition to my kitchen!  I can make Beef Gyros anytime I have a yen for them.  The beef gyros made in my Instant Pot tastes pretty authentic and can be made in about half an hour!  Doesn’t beat a trip to Athens or Santorini, but it hits the spot!

The Beef Gyros I make in the Instant Pot are tender, juicy, and tasty; in short perfect!  We slather the pita with homemade Tzatziki, a creamy cucumber yogurt sauce, then fill it with meat and veggies, delicious!

Here’s the recipe for Instant Pot Beef Gyros and Tzatziki Sauce, hope you love it as much as we do!

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The Beef

Ingredients:

2 Lbs. Chuck roast sliced into thin strips about 1/4″ long – cut meat against the grain

1 Large White Onion thinly sliced

1/4 Cup Olive Oil

1 Tbs. Garlic Powder

1 Tbs. Oregano

1 Tsp. Sea Salt

1 Tsp. Black Pepper

1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 Cup Beef Broth

Shredded Iceberg or Romaine Lettuce

Sliced Tomatoes

Sliced Purple Onion

Sliced Cucumbers

1 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar

Fresh Pita Bread or Naan

Directions:

Place all the ingredients except the Pita, Lettuce, and Tomato in the Instant Pot

Cover and make sure the valve is in the “Sealing” position

Turn pot on to Manual – high pressure

Set timer to 30 minutes

Once timer goes off allow the pot to sit for 15 minutes.  Then switch the valve to “venting” and allow the pot to depressurize.

Remove cover and stir.

While you’re waiting for the meet to cook make your Tzatziki Sauce and prepare your veggies

Place shredded lettuce, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions on a dish and sprikle with Apple Cider Vinegar then set aside until ready to use

Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients:

1 Cup Finely chopped cucumbers – remove seeds before chopping

1 Cup plain whole milk yogurt

2 Tbs Fresh Dill chopped

1 Tsp Garlic finely minced

1/4  Tsp Salt

Directions:

Take the cucumbers and squeeze out the liquid.  Squeeze out as much liquid as you can.

Place cucumber in bowl and add in rest of the ingredients and mix very well.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Sandwich assembly:

Cover pita bread with a damp paper towel and warm in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds

Place one pita bread flat on a piece of aluminum foil

Spread bread with Tzatziki Sauce

Place a layer of shredded lettuce over sauce

Remove desired amount of meat from pot and drain liquid then place over lettuce

Add cucumber, onion, and tomato slices on top then add more tzatziki sauce if desired

Roll sandwich and foil, use the foil to hold the sandwich together.  Peel off foil as you eat.

You can also make a plate or bowl instead of a sandwich.  Any left over tzatziki can be used a dip, just place in a dish or bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Dip pita chips in the sauce for a great snack or appetizer!

 

Instant Pot Beef Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce
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Instant Pot Beef Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce
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Ingredients
Tzatziki Sauce
Servings:
Instructions
Beef
  1. Place all the ingredients except the Pita, Lettuce, and Tomato in the Instant Pot
  2. Cover and make sure the valve is in the "Sealing" position
  3. Turn pot on to Manual - high pressure Set timer to 30 minutes
  4. Once timer goes off allow the pot to sit for 15 minutes. Then switch the valve to "venting" and allow the pot to depressurize.
  5. Remove cover and stir.
  6. While you're waiting for the meet to cook make your Tzatziki Sauce and prepare your veggies
  7. Place shredded lettuce, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions on a dish and sprikle with Apple Cider Vinegar then set aside until ready to use
Tzatziki Sauce
  1. Take the cucumbers and squeeze out the liquid.  Squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
  2. Place cucumber in bowl and add in rest of the ingredients and mix very well.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Assembly
  1. Cover pita bread with a damp paper towel and warm in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds Place one pita bread flat on a piece of aluminum foil Spread bread with Tzatziki Sauce Place a layer of shredded lettuce over sauce Remove desired amount of meat from pot and drain liquid then place over lettuce Add cucumber, onion, and tomato slices on top then add more tzatziki sauce if desired Roll sandwich and foil, use the foil to hold the sandwich together.  Peel off foil as you eat. 
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