This is mansaf...well, typically you would see it totally filling the tray, but we had a really big tray for a small to medium sized mansaf. Basically it's rice with a meat (here chicken) in pieces on top. Then you put lightly browned almond slivers and/or pine nuts and top that with a goat yogurt called jamiid. As you can imagine, it's the jamiid that makes the mansaf - and it's the jamiid that tends to be the breaking point for some people, including my husband! :-) (He jokingly calls it yak butter.)
There can be variations - a layer of Arabic bread on the bottom, lamb or goat instead of chicken, and even a goat head perched on top with the eyeball or tongue being served to the guest of honor! I've actually only seen that once, though.
For Saturday's mansaf, my sister Alli was the wonderful chef. Wonderful job, sis!
Ben and Tim came in during the process to taste-test and make sure the jamiid had been prepared just right. Okay, so it had to be a little weaker than they would have preferred out of respect for those whose palates weren't quite as strong, but all in all they managed to add just the right amount of salt and garlic for a delicious sauce.
Mansaf is eaten straight from the tray with the hands, as my brothers Ben & Tim, my sister Allison, and her roommate Erica are demonstrating here. Erica must be given lots and lots of credit here...this was her first time to eat mansaf, but she dug in wholeheartedly! My friend Paula didn't eat with her hands (I didn't either!), but she wholeheartedly tried it...and liked it, jamiid and all! Way to go Erica and Paula! (We'll be sure to let you know when we have another feast!)
This is how you do it...first you get a bite-sized handful of the rice (right hands only, please!) and roll it into a nice, tight ball. (The rice is prepared in such a way as to promoted stickiness, and then the jamiid helps a bit, too.)
Next you perch the ball on your thumb and flick it into your mouth, being careful to keep your hand from touching your mouth. (This is what Olivia did succeed in doing! I was very proud of her!) By the way, I owe Erica an apology - I accidentally partially cut her out of the picture...sorry Erica! You were awesome!