Al Mansaf

al mansaf
Photo: Bobbi Lin

A lavish Saudi Arabian dish named for the large tray on which it's served, al mansaf traditionally calls for layers of thin bread followed by a bed of flavorful rice that's topped with lamb. Martha's adaptation is made with chicken and baked in jumbo muffin tins for a unique presentation.


  • 5 tablespoons ghee, plus 6 tablespoons melted and more for pans

  • 1 small white onion, diced

  • 1 cardamom pod

  • 1 dried bay leaf

  • 1 small cinnamon stick

  • 1 whole clove

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed

  • 2 cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice

  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 3 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

  • ¾ cup salted cashews, toasted and coarsely chopped

  • 24 (8-inch) square spring roll wrappers, thawed if frozen

  • ¼ cup chopped pistachios, for garnish


  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 3 tablespoons ghee over medium. Add onion, cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon, clove, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Add 3 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

  2. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and remove meat from bones; set aside. Strain cooking liquid and discard solids. Return strained cooking liquid to pot.

  3. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups yogurt and cornstarch. Add to pot along with chicken, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook until chicken is very tender and liquid has reduced and thickened to a sauce-like consistency, about 35 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup yogurt and lemon juice. Remove from heat and let cool. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces.

  4. Meanwhile, make the rice: In a medium saucepan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons ghee over medium. Add rice, turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring, until rice is lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes, then stir in cilantro.

  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To assemble, brush two 6-cup jumbo nonstick muffin tins with ghee. Place one spring roll wrapper on work surface and lightly brush with melted ghee. (Keep remaining wrappers covered with plastic wrap while you work.) Place a second wrapper on top, overlapping by 3 1/2 inches, to form a rectangle. Transfer to muffin tin, pressing into one of the cups. Fill with about 1/3 cup rice, followed by 1/3 cup chicken mixture, and 1 tablespoon cashews. Bring edges of wrappers up and press together in an irregular pattern to seal. Brush lightly with more melted ghee. Repeat process with remaining wrappers, rice, chicken, and cashews. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly.

  6. Use an offset spatula to transfer pies to a serving platter. Sprinkle with pistachios before serving.

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