I do like to eat my way around a country and Jordan was no exception. Eating like the locals and trying the cuisine, is just one way to find out more about a culture. When I visited Jordan in 2013 I not only planned to visit Petra and other ancient sites, but also to try the national dishes of Jordan. I managed those and a few more besides.
Food to try in Jordan
Hummus & falafel
It being the middle east hummus and falafel were on the list of course… Double chickpea fun with this classic dip and deep fried chickpea balls (both vegan).
We ate these on our first night in Amman, at the institution that is Hashims. Definitely worth a visit for a filling meal of numerous falafel (they even topped us up) and hummus to dip them in. I loved the variety of the falafels, but sadly we ate them too quickly for a picture.
Mansaf, chicken on rice with almonds and a goat yoghurt sauce, is a very traditional dish. However the goat yoghurt is something that you need to be prepared for (I was not so sure about this one I have to admit, I didn’t eat the sauce after having a little taste).
We tried this in Amman, with a selection of smaller side dishes – that’s what I love about the middle eastern cuisine – the ability to try lots of dishes, so even if you don’t like the main one, you won’t go hungry! Fattoush, tabbouli, olives, pickles and a bean dip completed our feast, alongside lovely flat bread.
We enjoyed the Kofta (meatballs, usually made with lamb meat) with tomato sauce, served alongside stuffed eggplants and courgettes.
This dinner was in Petra with the owner of our hotel, Valley Star, Ibrahim. He was very hospitable taking us around town and this restaurant had his thumbs up as they did the stuffed eggplant like his mum does! As you can see all meals come with some kind of bread and dips.
Maglob is also known as the upside down dish, as its turned out like an upside down cake.
It’s similar to a biriyani, made with fried chicken and vegetables. Then the rice is piled on top for cooking. They turn it out when serving so you get the chicken, then rice and then veggies. This was just what we needed in the desert camp in Wadi Rum, when the sunset and the night turned cold.
Sayadieh is a fish dish that is popular in many countries around the middle east – I’ve found recipes from Eygpt, Syria and Lebanon. It’s a spiced fish dish, made with caramelised onions and traditionally served with rice.
We enjoyed this one in Aqaba, which is the port right on the Red Sea, so perfect for fresh fish. Ours also came with a tomato sauce and some roasted veggies.
Other things to note:
Whilst I enjoyed most of the food in Jordan, you do have to be aware that it’s carb heavy, with bread for every meal. Breakfasts are generally bread, tomatoes, cucumber, cheese and dips. For people with dietary requirements it might be a struggle to find vegetarian or gluten free food (although if you like hummus you’ll never go hungry…), we even struggled to find fresh fruit to snack on. Luckily our taxi driver and the hotel owner Ibrahim insisted on providing us with fruit – their take was that if we tried to go to a market ourselves we would be ripped off. The kindness and consideration of people is amazing here!
In addition Jordan is a Muslim country so drinking isn’t really done here, except in tourist hotels. Be warned that local wine is not fantastic (we never got to taste wine in Jordan, but they do have vineyards); beer outside of a hotel is non alcoholic ‘malt drink’. Best to stick with what the locals drink and try a lemon and mint juice instead, very refreshing! Read more about our Jordan trip.