This country may be small, but it packs a punch in many ways, not least its array of foodie delights. With a fusion of Arabic and traditional Mediterranean flavours to tantalise your taste buds, you will find an array of truly fantastic cuisine, from road-side stalls, to traditional family dishes to fine-dining restaurants. Here are some of the culinary highlights you shouldn’t leave Jordan without trying.
WHAT’S ON THE MENU?
As one of the largest producers of olive oil in the world, it’s not surprising that this is a key feature in Jordanian dishes. Other typical ingredients you will find in the food here are Za’tar, cumin, garlic tomato and lemon, to name just a few of the aromatic flavours that make everything taste so good. While spices are often used here, the level varies, so don’t worry if you’re not a lover of extreme spice.
Mensaf: Meaning ‘large dish’, this tasty lamb recite is a firm favourite and very popular with both locals and visitors. The tender chunks of lamb are cooked in a broth with jameed (a kind of fermented, dried yoghurt) and usually served topped with rice and almonds on a sharing platter with bread. Trust us, it’s delicious.
Maqluba: Meaning ‘upside down’ in Arabic, this is a fitting name for a dish where rice, meat, and dried vegetables are layered in a pot and then turned over into a platter. You will then come across a bright heap of tomatoes with eggplant, cauliflower, potatoes and chicken or lamb hidden underneath. Like many Jordanian dishes, it is usually topped with almonds and served with yoghurt.Read more
Mezze: One of the most common ways to eat in Jordan is with a shared ‘Mezze’ platter. They are stuffed full of artisan breads, hummus (nothing beats this authentic stuff), falafel, pickles and much more, and are great for kicking off any feast.
Kanafeh: For those with a sweet tooth, these, sticky, Arabian pastries are sublime. Think syrupy pastry meets gooey cheesecake and you start to get an inkling of what to expect.
Amidst the bustle of the clamour of daily life in Jordan’s towns and cities, the enticing aromas fill the streets from numerous street stalls. Locals meet to sip on freshly squeezed juice from bundles of sugar cane, or sip small, aromatic coffee, and you’ll see stalls laden with bounties of seasonal greens, breads, nuts and dates. The street food is a wonderful way to familiarise yourself with the flavours of Jordan – take your pick from creamy hummus, falafel sandwiches, bowls of steaming stewed fava beans or Schwarma dens, where wraps of grilled chicken and lamb are smothered in a sesame seed sauce.
WHERE TO EAT
All over Jordan you will find delicious smells of the local cuisine wafting past; there are a myriad of tantalizing eateries worth trying, and here are just a few of our favourites.
BLUE BAY, AQABA
Here you’ll find an outstanding seafood menu, with ample portions of beautifully prepared catch-of-the day alongside imaginative salads. With its delicious menu, sleek glass tables and open plan seating, this place seems to attract Jordan’s ‘in-crowd’.
FAKHR EL-DIN RESTAURANT, AMMAN
This is a unique dining experience where you can enjoy local cuisine in the elegance of an authentic Jordanian home. Fakhrel El-Din is one of the leading Lebanese restaurants in Amman, and in a city of outstanding fine cuisine it stands out as a cut above the rest. The dining space is grand and architecturally stunning, but perfectly complimented by intimate lighting – and for wine lovers there is a great selection of Lebanese and Jordanian wines to choose from. Worth going out of your way for this one.
Located in Fuhais, 20km outside Amman, this fabulous dining spot serves up traditional food in a beautiful old building with a courtyard at the centre and rooftop seating. Each evening you can enjoy live music, and after your meal you can explore the historic Fuhais neighbourhood. The menu offers a great selection of traditional hot and cold mezzes, mains, grilled meats and, if you find yourself in the area early, delicious breakfasts too.
Described as ‘quintessentially Jordan’, this place is said to do some of the best falafel you will find. It is a small, simple café that you will find down and an unassuming alleyway in downtown Amman. The menu is no-frills, but don’t let that put you off – we’ve been told this place is as well-known by locals as Petra is to visitors. If you need proof of how highly regarded this low-key establishment is, check out the walls where you can see pictures of King Hussein and King Abdullah eating there. Some of the cheapest, quickest and best food you will come across.