A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Mansaf 101

Mansaf is the main traditional dish of Jordan; made of lamb, rice, and a yoghurt-like liquid called jameed, it is always a much-celebrated occurrence.

Traditionally, mansaf is consumed collectively from a large platter, where no more than 8 people stand around the “seder” and eat it by molding the rice into balls with their right hand while their left is placed behind their backs. According to many, the joy of mansaf is in this tradition- mansaf is to be eaten standing up, no plates, and no cutlery.

Naturally though, for many reasons ranging from extreme fafi-ness to the fact that we’re city-folks, in my family, mansaf is cooked with regular old yoghurt (mommy says that jameed makes the house reek like goats, and as much as I do love jameed, she is naturally quite correct), and more importantly, it is also always, always, always eaten the way we eat everything else- served with a serving spoon into each person’s dish and eaten with forks, spoons, and knives.

For my brothers, their lack of knowledge of the manners of eating mansaf the traditional way sometimes results in uncomfortable situations, because in a lot of instances, it is not very socially acceptable for men to eat it with utensils. To make it a hygienic experience, it also comes with its own list of “mansaf eating etiquette”, such as defining imaginary borders, always having your left hand behind your back, wiping off the rice on your other hand with a certain way and yadi yada yada. Like I also discovered, it is much harder to make little balls of rice with one hand than I would have thought.
For the past two weeks, not-very-fafi Moose has taken it to heart to teach my brothers how to eat mansaf the proper way. At first, I thought I’d learn along anyway especially as it is a legitimate excuse to play with my food. After getting told off for rolling the rice from hand to hand and being “uncivilized” with it, I decided to wallow in my fafiness and make use out of one of the few seemingly positive point of being a woman; I joined my aunts and ate from a different, untouched “seder”, served untraditionally with plates, spoons, and forks, and then finished quickly enough to go make fun of my brothers and snap a few pictures.


September and the summer is over


Petra, Amman


  1. how do they expect to learn when they drinking Cade’ Pink with mansaf ?????

    and FYI , Mansaf without Jameed is not Mansaf … Its Shakreyye …

    This is a disgrace to Mansaf … I demand immediate action against Roba and her family ;)

    futher FYI , I eat mansaf with a spoon everywhere … its not frowned upon as much as you would think …

  2. طفيلي( ahmad)

    There is something mssing in the Mansef. where is SHIRACK and head of sheep and its tongue ? SHIRACK should cover the sider before you put rice on it Then you use SHIRACK (bread) to eat with meat.

    Other thing , i hope you get Jammed from Karak , if it was not from karak that mean you did not eat proper Mansef. There ais stcok market for jammed in karkar and decennt type of jammed is made by two familes or three.
    Seriously This meal is unhelathy and full with fat. I always have row with ny father about mansef .and becasue he should eat it food like that .
    No wonder , most of people jordanget died in age 60 to 70 becasue of these type of food .why people can cook see food or Kabsa instaed of mansef .and who invented mansef.?

  3. As a Palestinian city-boy, i have convinced myself that i have a legitimate excuse for not mastering the mansaf etiquettes. However, i do notice some awkward looks when i sit down at a Jordanian mansaf feast and i pull out my plate and spoon.

    So i don’t know Isam …. i do feel it is (righfully ?) considered abnormal to eat mansaf with spoons in Jordan. ….

  4. Sultan Ibrahim

    I too wonder why people in Jordan do not eat more sea food. I mean, sea food is, like…very abundant, like…in my neighborhood, everyone raises fish and shrimp in their water tanks.

    You know what? I bet mansaf was invented by someone who hates sea food.

  5. ME LOVE MANSAF indeeeeeeed..


  6. khalid jarrar

    Mansaf is when happiness decided to take a materialistic shape.

    its happiness!


  7. Talal

    I’m sorry, but msa55an is happiness incarnate, not mansaf. Msa55an makes the house smell, but in a good way. And it’s deliciously messy. And it’s the only dish I’ll eat with my hands.

    God, I wish I was home.

  8. Bilal - Black Jack

    Mansaf is the most disgusting dish I ever had. I only eat it if its cooked with regular yoghurt and if its absolutely necessary to attend a social gathering of some sort.

    not only it stinks the house, but also so messy that we look so uncivilized while eating it. YES I love to eat ‘finger foods’. I love to eat za3tar and labeneh with bread, i love to eat ‘fool’ o hummous with my bare hands and some bread. but at least, we know table etiquitte when we eat such finger foods, and usually doesnt involve squishing the bread, or making balls of hummos or letting the olive oil drip to your elbow as a sign of satisfaction. (yes, the real mansaf tradition requires men to show that the jameed is dripping to their elbows as a sign of good hosting)

    its one of those traditions that I hope one day Jordanians will dump. its the new millennium people, move on. there are forks and spoons nowdays. what if some of the eaters don’t groom their nails? or wash their hands, or even hair falling on food since everybody is standing looking down at it? spoons and forks were invented for sterilization and etiquette.

    if you want to keep eating mansaf the same way our founding fathers did and argue its ‘the’ Jordanian tradition, then why most of those people do not wear dashadeesh and 3abayas on a daily basis, and the women have their chins tattooed with green ink like the real traditions require them to?

    but yeah most wear jeans, and the guys wear the best suites and ties and look ‘western’ on their best celebration days! THAT, ofcourse, they accept and love. but when it comes to eating, HELL NO, its our tradition u guys.

    move on.

  9. منسف مش بل إيد=منسف للطنطات

    fool’ o hummous with your BARE hands…
    man, that’s scary….

    I think, and that’s just me, that “bare hands” , proper usage fits better in a context like say:
    “OJ Simpson carved up his ex-wife and her boyfriend with his bare hands”

    But I have to agree with you, the fool and hommos bare-hand eating practice needs to stop because it belongs to a different era before the invention of automatic taghmeess-ing machines and other utinsels.

    Man, I cannot believe that some people still eat pizza and burgers using their BARE hands. Thats simply barebaric!! Hello? we are people here, not polar bares. This is unbareable.

    Pass the knife Bilal, but watch out, you may break a nail.

  10. الأب الموجود

    Not withstanding the core of Bilal’s comment, and the valuable info about the real traditions as they relate to jameed dripping down the arm and the reason behind inventing forks and spoons, I was left wondering who the Jordanian “founding fathers” were. Is Bilal referring to Al Shareef Hussein and later Prince/King Abdullah I? I am yet to see a picture of either one eating mansaf or read a jameed-related speech by any one of them.

  11. Bilal - Black Jack

    LOL. bare hands meant without utinsels. I don’t think you are ‘tant’ to assume that bare hands means without gloves. since you eat mansaf, I assume you are masculine enough to know the difference.

    i love your sarcasm… wait, did I just say something sarcastic? :D

    btw I forgot to say that the short movie clip at the end of the mansaf blog is freakn hilarious. he says and i quote ” a7san laymoot SHAHEEDAN MANSAFFYYAN”. that is so cute. LMAO

  12. never had a mansaf, and wouldnt mind to, but the truth is, the photos at the top don’t shed good light on the delicacy. I cannot stand squashing and sqeezing food in such grotesque manner wheather its Jordanian or khaliji style of eating rice…
    btw, is there rice in mansaf?
    Come to think ofit, this really put me off. lost my appetite completely… no offence to mansaf fans, but whats wrong with using spoons guys? you can scuff more using spoons…

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