Yes, it’s okay to lick your fingers when eating Mansaf in Jordan.
When in Jordan, do as the Jordanians do.
One of the first questions Jordanians ask travelers is: “Have you had ‘mansaf’ yet?”
Eating in Mansaf in Jordan
What is Mansaf?
Mansaf is lamb, boiled in goat’s milk for hours. It is served on one large plate of hot rice, and covered in cooked almonds or pine nuts. Steaming goat’s milk is then poured over the entire dish.
How do you eat it?
Each guest stands at a section of a large serving plate, from which they will all eat. Your host will pull pieces of lamb meat off the bone, break them up for you, and sprinkle them onto your section. You now get to indulge in a childhood joy of many of us and eat with your hands (without getting in trouble!).
You should only eat mansaf with your right hand
When eating mansaf in Jordan, you should only eat with your right hand. The left hand is usually placed behind your back.
Scoop up some rice, nuts, and meat into the palm of your hand. Then, begin to squeeze the mixture into a ball. To eat it, roll your thumb underneath the ball and flick it into your mouth like you’re flipping a coin. No part of your hand should touch your mouth. Don’t be worried if it does, however. Your hosts will be all smiles as they watch you eat.
The host will continue to pull off meat and place it in front of you throughout the meal, even after you are completely stuffed. It is a symbol of his generosity and hospitality. Remember to say you’re full, before you actually are. When you’re finished, it’s ok to lick your fingers.
“Mansaf” is the pride of Jordanians. It brings them great honor to eat it with guests.
Don’t leave Jordan without experiencing this!