Citizens, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Arabic: المملكة الأردنية الهاشمية Al-Mamlakah Al-Urduniyah Al-Hashimiyah), is located on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, and Israel and the Palestinian Territory to the west.
Since the dawn of civilization, the country’s location at the crossroads of the Middle East has served as a strategic nexus connecting Asia, Africa and Europe.
Archaeologists have found evidence of inhabitance dating as far back as the Paleolithic period – later, three kingdoms in Jordan emerged: Edom, Moab and Ammon. The lands were later part of several empires; most notably the Roman Empire, the Nabatean Kingdom and finally the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century.
After the post–World War I division of West Asia by Britain and France, the Emirate of Transjordan was officially recognized by the Council of the League of Nations in 1922. In 1946, Jordan became an independent sovereign state officially known as The Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan.
In 1948, Abdullah I took the title King of Jordan. The name of the state was changed to The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on December 1, 1948.
Jordan is a major tourist destination in the region and is especially popular with expat westerners seeking to live or study in its capital, Amman. Not only is the Kingdom considered the safest country in the Middle East, but it is also considered the safest Arab country. Like Egypt, Jordan has a full and comprehensive peace treaty with Israel.
In the midst of surrounding turmoil it has been greatly hospitable, accepting refugees from almost all surrounding conflicts as early as 1948, most notably the estimated 2 million Palestinian refugees and the 1.5 million Syrian refugees residing in the country.
Jordan continues to demonstrate hospitality, despite the substantial strain the Syrian refugees are putting on the national systems and infrastructure.
It is also the only safe Arab refuge available to thousands of Iraqi Christians, who are fleeing the Islamic State.
Pope Benedict described Jordan during his 2009 visit to the Holy Land as a model for Christian-Muslim co-existence.
30% of the population was Christian in 1950, however, due to many reasons (mainly the high rates of Muslim immigration) this percentage plummeted down to 6% in 2015.
In Jordan, food holds great cultural significance. It brings people together and makes every occasion really special and unforgettable.
Mansaf is a traditional Jordanian dish, made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt and served with rice or bulgur. It is the national dish of Jordan and it is also common in the Palestinian Territory, Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
Mansaf historically played an important role in resolving conflicts between Bedouin families or tribes. When issues arise, the heads of tribes visit one another with an accompanying group to try and resolve them.
Traditionally, the host tribe or family will sacrifice a sheep and cook mansaf as a token of respect for their visitors. They eat this together as a way of marking the end of the dispute.
When you are invited into a Jordanian house and you are served mansaf, it is considered the ultimate sign of generosity and hospitality (however some Jordanians choose other dishes in fear that foreigners will find the mansaf too exotic).
Mansaf in Arabic means “Large tray/dish” which it truly is; Mansaf comes in a very big round tray/dish and is placed in the center of a big round table, where people eat standing.
Mansaf is traditionally eaten with the right hand, with the left (unclean) hand held behind the back. This is accomplished by rolling a ball of rice, filled with meat and throw it into your mouth without having your hands or fingers touch your mouth. Eating mansaf is an art in and of itself, mastered by the old generation.
Citizens, Mansaf is a great dish and my recipe is resolutely traditional, replacing the dried goats milk yogurt with the much easier to find strained yogurt called Labneh. Labneh (Arabic: لبنة labnah), is yogurt which has been strained to remove its whey, resulting in a relatively thick consistency (between that of conventional yogurt and cheese), while preserving yogurt’s distinctive, sour taste.
If making it instead of purchasing, put whole milk yogurt in a strainer, and let it drain for several hours until a very thick consistency is achieved. If you would like to instead make the authentic dried yogurt known as jameed, details on the process may be found here.
Battle on – The Generalissimo
The Hirshon Jordanian Lamb Mansaf – المنسف الأردني
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