A culinary journey through Jordan
Jordan is a land of breathtaking natural wonders and rich cultural heritage, but for many visitors, the country’s mouthwatering cuisine truly steals the show. With its blend of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and North African influences, Jordanian food truly reflects the country’s diverse history and traditions. From aromatic spices to succulent meats and fresh, flavorful produce, Jordanian cuisine is a true feast for the senses that every food lover should experience at least once in their lifetime.
As soon as you arrive in Jordan, you’ll be greeted with various delicious smells and tastes, from the fragrant spices in the air to the savory flavors of dishes like mansaf, falafel, and shawarma. But there’s so much more to discover beyond these classic staples. Jordanian cuisine is incredibly varied and diverse, with each region boasting its unique specialties and culinary traditions.
Food in Jordan
Jordanian people have a saying: “Even when you’re full, you can still always eat 40 more bites of food”. Whether you’re looking to sample traditional street food or dine in a fancy restaurant, there’s something for every taste and budget in Jordan. So if you’re a food lover looking for your next culinary adventure, take the chance to explore the vibrant flavors of this fantastic country.
Pitta bread (khubez) is a flatbread used for scooping and dipping.
Mezze is shared with platters of appetizers: the basis of most meals. Mezze comes from the Persian word “to taste.” You get to have a variety of small dishes in one session.
Simple dishes include olives, hummus, and baba ghanoush (aubergine dip).
Falafel – Perfect breakfast food, snack, and dinner – you can eat falafel whenever you like! These crisp balls are made of ground chickpeas, added spices, and deep-fried. They are eaten plain or stuffed into a sandwich. At some restaurants is served with fresh mint, raw onion, and tomatoes alongside oven flatbread. The most popular restaurant with the tastiest falafel is Hashem Restaurant in Amman city center.
Fattet Hummus – This is not an ordinary hummus. Fattet hummus is a puree of tender chickpeas mixed with tahini, pine nuts, and pieces of torn-up pita bread topped with olive oil.
Shish Kebabs (kofte) are minced meat (usually lamb or beef) mixed with salt and parsley. Meat is then formed into sausage-like shapes and grilled over charcoal.
Zaarb is a dish of marinated meat mixed with chunks of vegetables, then baked in a pit lined with hot coals and covered by sand. When the tender flesh falls from the bones, meat is cooked and ready for serving. This is a traditional Bedouin dish.
Moutabel is a dipping dish that combines creamy roasted eggplant, garlic, sesame paste, and olive oil.
Shawarma – This dish originated not from Jordan but from the former Ottoman Empire. Lamb, chicken, or beef meat is served in warm pita bread pockets, then topped with raw onions, fresh vegetables, Tahini sauce, and za’atar.
Manakish is a pizza traditionally topped with olive oil and za’atar (a thyme herb mixture) and baked. My favorite version of Manakish is with halloumi cheese!
Galayet Bandora is a dish that includes stewed tomatoes with seasonings: garlic, olive oil, and salt. You can eat it with bread or with rice.
Kousa Mahshi – Oh, how much I love stuffed zucchini! Stuffing is a combination of rice and minced lamb. I’m not crazy about lamb, but I often make this dish at home, only with different sorts of meats. Stuffed zucchinis are cooked for hours on low heat until they become tender. The version with grape leaves instead of zucchini is delicious, too.
Maqluba – Translated, the meaning of this dish is upside-down. Place chicken and spices on the bottom of a pot and cook it with rice on the top. Once the dish is cooked, flip it onto a tray so the meat remains on top. I made this dish with fellow travelers in Jordan at a traditional restaurant!
Mansaf is the national dish of Jordan. It has deep roots in the Bedouin kitchen. Mansaf is traditionally served with rice and topped with pine nuts, all on a large platter meant for communal eating. There are some restaurants where mansaf is prepared from camel or chicken meat. It is customary for the host to feed guests!
Labneh (strained yogurt) is a very thick, creamy yogurt. Because of its richness, it is used as a bread or vegetable dip spread. The taste is sour and creamy. It is served plain or drizzled with olive oil.
Tabbouleh is vegetarian, fresh parsley salad which is very popular in Jordan even though it is traditionally a Lebanese dish. Fresh parsley is mixed with tomatoes, onion, mint, bulgur, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. In the Arab world, it is traditionally served as part of a mezze.
Jordanian desserts are a true delight for those with a sweet tooth. From the traditional Baklava to the exotic Qatayef, there is a wide variety of sweets that you can indulge in while in Jordan.
Baklava is one of the most popular desserts in Jordan. It is a sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is usually served with a cup of mint tea and is a perfect way to end a meal.
Kanafeh is a dessert popular throughout the Levant, especially in Jordan and Palestine. It is made from a pastry dough filled with cheese, soaked in syrup, and then baked. It is often served with a sprinkle of pistachio nuts and is a real treat for the taste buds. This desert matches perfectly with the thick Turkish coffee. When in Amman, visit Habibah; according to most people, it’s the place with the best Kanafeh in Jordan.
If you want something lighter, try Ataif, the Jordanian version of the crepe. It is a small pancake filled with cheese or nuts and then soaked in syrup. It is often served during Ramadan and other special occasions.
Jordan is also famous for its sweetened coffee called “Kahwa bi halib.” It is a hot drink made with Arabic coffee, boiled milk, and sugar and is a perfect complement to any dessert. So if you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss out on trying some delicious Jordanian desserts.
Spices in Jordan
Spices are a vital ingredient in Jordanian cuisine and play an essential role in giving Jordanian dishes unique and delicious flavors. Jordan’s location along ancient spice trade routes has allowed for a blend of culinary influences and an abundance of spices. Whether you’re walking through local markets or exploring Jordanian cuisine, the aroma of spices is always present.
One of Jordan’s most commonly used spices is sumac, which has a tangy and slightly sour taste. Sumac is used in many dishes, including salads, meat, and rice. Another essential spice is za’atar, a blend of dried thyme, oregano, and sesame seeds commonly used as a seasoning for bread, meat, and vegetables.
Cumin is also a staple spice in Jordanian cuisine, adding a warm and earthy flavor to dishes. It is used in many traditional dishes, including mansaf, a national dish made of lamb cooked in a yogurt sauce and served over rice.
Other spices commonly used in Jordan include cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, and coriander, each contributing a unique flavor to dishes. Whether it’s a simple snack like hummus or a complex main course, spices are always present and help to make Jordanian cuisine truly unforgettable.
If you’re planning a trip to Jordan, explore the local spice markets and try the many dishes that incorporate these spices. You may even be inspired to bring some home to add Jordanian flair to your cooking.
When you think of Jordan, you may picture ancient ruins, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural heritage. But did you know this country is also a hub for some of the most delicious drinks you’ll ever taste? Jordan has everything from piping hot tea to refreshing juices and traditional fermented drinks. Get ready to quench your thirst and discover the top drinks that locals and tourists can’t get enough of in this Middle Eastern gem.
Mint tea, also known as “shay bi nana,” is the most popular tea in Jordan. It is often served after meals by pouring black tea into a cup with a few fresh mint leaves. Jordanians love to add sugar or honey to their tea to give it a sweet and refreshing taste.
Fresh juice & Lemon mint
If you are looking for something fruity, try fresh juice. Pomegranate juice is a popular choice in Jordan, made by hand-pressing the fruit. Vendors sell it on the street for only 1JD – 2JD per glass. The best part is that the juice is made from seasonal fruits so the taste can vary throughout the year.
However, if you are looking for a drink to beat the heat, look no further than Lemon mint, also known as lemonade. This drink is the perfect mix of tangy and sweet, made with fresh lemon (or lime) and mint leaves. It is a refreshing drink that can help you cool down during hot and sunny days in Jordan.
Jordan’s coffee culture: Where hospitality meets tradition
In addition to its delicious taste, coffee also has significant cultural and social value in Jordan. Jordanians have a time-honored tradition of brewing coffee and tea over hot coals and sharing it with loved ones. This daily ritual has been a part of Jordan’s culture for centuries and is a cornerstone of their renowned hospitality. It’s a part of daily life and a way of bringing people together, and many Jordanians believe that serving coffee to guests is an essential part of their hospitality. Whether in a Bedouin tent in the desert or a modern coffee shop in Amman, the ritual of preparing and serving coffee is a tradition passed down from generation to generation.
One of the unique aspects of Jordanian coffee culture is the use of a dallah, a traditional Arabic coffee pot used to brew and serve coffee. The dallah is often made of brass or copper and symbolizes generosity and hospitality. It’s common to see Jordanians carrying a dallah with them when visiting friends and family, as they believe it’s essential always to be ready to offer coffee to guests. But beware, serving cold coffee or using your left hand for serving is considered rude!
When it comes to the taste of Jordanian coffee, it’s all about the cardamom. This aromatic spice is added to the coffee grounds before brewing, giving the coffee a unique and delicious flavor. Whether you prefer your coffee strong or mild, sweet or bitter, you’re sure to find a variety of coffee blends and brewing methods in Jordan to suit your taste.
If you’re a coffee lover visiting Jordan, try the local specialty, Turkish coffee, and experience the rich tradition and hospitality surrounding this beloved beverage. And remember, in Jordan, coffee isn’t just a drink – it’s a symbol of friendship, warmth, and generosity.
A Culinary Journey Through Jordan: From Spices to Sweets
Overall, Jordan is a true paradise for food lovers. From the savory aroma of spices to the sweet taste of desserts, Jordanian cuisine offers an unforgettable gastronomical experience. From Mansaf to Falafel, from Kunafa to Baklava, Jordanian food is a blend of flavors and aromas that reflect the country’s rich cultural heritage.
Drinks like mint tea, pomegranate juice, and lemon-mint are a must-try. Jordanian coffee culture is also something to be experienced. But the highlight of any Jordanian meal is undoubtedly the warm hospitality that comes with it.
Jordanian food is not only delicious but also a reflection of the country’s history and traditions. So, if you’re planning to visit this beautiful country, indulge in the local cuisine and experience the magic of Jordanian hospitality.
That’s all for now. For more about Jordan, click HERE.