Blogging Marathon# 48: Week 3/ Day 2 Theme: Biryani of different Styles Dish: Jordanian Rice Pilaf
For Day 2 of this week’s blogging marathon, I have vegetarian version of Jordanian National dish, called Mansaf. Traditionally mansaf is made with lamb but the vegetarian version is filled with lots of vegetables. This recipe is from ‘The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian‘ cookbook by Sally Butcher.
I bookmarked almost all of the pilaf recipes from that cookbook. Some of the Middle Eastern Pilafs are quite elaborate with lots of flavors and textures. This Jordanian pilaf is one of those elaborate dishes. Rice is layered with spicy vegetable layer which is in turn smothered with some sharp creamy garlicky yogurt sauce called jameed (or laban moutboukh). According to the author, the secret of Mansaf is the inclusion of this yogurt sauce. Jameed is made with strained yogurt.
I followed the pilaf recipe to the T, but have to tweak the yogurt sauce recipe a little bit because traditionally this sauce includes an egg white to stabilize the yogurt. For some reason the use of yogurt & egg is one dish, didn’t sound right to me. So I made up my own version and used some besan (chickpea flour) and cornstarch to ensure yogurt doesn’t cuddle while cooking. Using whole milk yogurt is key, otherwise the sauce will split when heated.
Garnishing the final dish with nuts and fresh herbs or a green salad makes all the flavors pop in the mouth. Traditionally this dish is served over flatbread like pita or khobez and then the idea is to break off pieces of bread with your hands, wrap them around some rice and sauce and eat it all in one big bite. Unfortunately I didn’t have any flatbread, so I served it without it.
For Garlic-yogurt Sauce (my version of laban moutboukh):
3clovesGarlic- thinly sliced
a pinch to tasteSalt
½cupSunflower seeds Sesame Seeds Sunflower seeds/ or
½cupParsley- , chopped
For the Vegetable Layer: Salt eggplant and leave it in a colander for at;east 15 minutes. Then pat dry on a clean kitchen towel and keep ready.
Heat 2tbsp olive oil in a saute pan, add the onions, garlic, red pepper, mushrooms and the eggplant. Cook the veggies for 4~5 minutes or until the onions are soft and the other veggies start to get tender. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook till the veggies are tender.
Next add the tomato puree, spices, salt and pepper. Cook for 3~4 minutes.
Add ½~1cup water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 2~3 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep ready.
For the Rice Layer: Rinse the rice and drain well.
Melt butter in a heavy bottom pan, add the drained rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking to the pan.
Next add turmeric, cinnamon, water and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and cook for 15~20 minutes or until the water is absorbed and rice is tender.
Take the pan off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes.
For the Garlic~Yogurt Sauce: Whisk chickpea flour, corn starch and salt into yogurt. Make sure there are no lumps.
Heat 1tsp oil in a small sauce pan, add the garlic and cook till it turns golden, make sure not to burn. Remove garlic into a small bowl.
Lower the heat and add the yogurt mixture. Keep whisking the yogurt to avoid curdling. Cook till the yogurt starts to bubble around the edges. Turn off the heat and add the reserved fried garlic.
For the Garnish: Dry roast the nuts till golden. Set aside.
To Serve: Pile the rice on the serving plate. Spoon the vegetables into the middle of the rice and cover with sauce. Sprinkle with the toasted nuts and serve with the chopped herbs. Serve the extra sauce on the side.