Jordanian cuisine is very diverse and full of flavours. There are classic recipes coming from the Arab tradition, and several of Mediterranean and Eastern descent as well.
A trip to Jordan will lead you to discover not only the culture and architecture of this Middle Eastern country, but its most delicious dishes too. Starting from the capital Amman, passing through Madaba and Wadi Musa, and even in the Wadi Rum desert, you’ll be able to taste new specialties in each area. From lamb dishes like shawarma to desserts like kunafah, don’t hold back and try as many specialties as possible!
READ ALSO: What to see&do in 2 days in Amman
In this article we list some of the best dishes to eat in Jordan, and in which cities or restaurants to try them.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
WHAT TO EAT IN JORDAN?
Let’s start with falafel, one of the symbolic Middle Eastern dishes. Falafel is a dish made from fried chickpea balls, which can be served either in a salad or in a rolled pita bread. Try it at Al Quds Falafel chain in Rainbow Street in Amman, we also had a very good one in the village of Potash along the Dead Sea, for just 1JD! (€1.40).
Moving on to the next dish, we stay on the same main ingredient: chickpeas. Hummus is Jordan’s queen dip sauce. Made from chickpeas with more or less olive oil, garlic, tahini and lemon juice, you can eat it as an appetizer or side dish, but also for breakfast. Nowadays it’s common to find in our supermarkets too, however after tasting a good Jordanian hummus, you’ll no longer be able to go without it!
You’ll find hummus everywhere really in Jordan, at some point you might not stand it anymore, but we quickly adapted: pita and hummus for breakfast and off we went to discover Jordan! We ate phenomenal hummus at Hashem restaurant in Amman and at our guesthouse in Jerash.
Here’s Jordanian national dish, mansaf. Now it’s time to get your hands dirty, literally. It is an ancient recipe based on rice and lamb, which is cooked slowly, spiced and served with a yogurt sauce.
By Bedouin tradition people sit in a group around a large mansaf dish. With the left hand behind the back, one eats without utensils using only the right hand, making balls of rice and meat.
Obviously if you order it in a restaurant you can use cutlery normally, the choice is yours! We tasted it at Al Quds Restaurant in Amman, but honestly it was not our favorite dish in Jordan.
The name Zarb refers to another typically Bedouin dish, in fact you can appreciate its particular cooking method in the Wadi Rum desert. Zarb is cooked under the sand!
Basically it’s a live-fire barbeque on 3 or more levels, on which spiced meat and vegetables are arranged. Spices usually include pepper, paprika, cinnamon, cardamom and more spice blends. To finish cooking, the zarb is closed with a lid, placed in a hole dug in the ground, and covered in sand and stones. After several hours of slow cooking, the zarb, which will be slightly dry and smoked, is ready to be served with various accompanying sauces.
On every Wadi Rum full day tour, you’ll try zarb for dinner.
Mujadarah is a rice-based soup with lentils and a large amount of onions fried in olive oil. A dish with few simple ingredients, but tasty and very filling. We had excellent mujadarah served with pita bread at the Ramada Resort during our stay at the Dead Sea.
Maqlouba (also Makloubeh) is a dish that was traditionally made with the leftovers from a large meal. Meat and vegetables used to be saved, cooked at the bottom of the pot, covered by rice. For table service, the maqlouba is then turned upside down. The dish is now a very popular recipe throughout Jordan (you can find it at the famous Al Quds in Amman), and it’s still served in the original way.
Shawarma is one of the best-known Jordanian and Middle Eastern dishes. Chicken or lamb meat is cut into thin strips, served on a plate with salad and fries, or rolled into a flatbread just like the kebab wrap we know in Europe.
But be careful not to confuse it when in Jordan. If you order kebab in Jordan, you’ll be served marinated and grilled skewers, also delicious, but different from shawarma. Shawarma is easy to find everywhere, from Amman (Abu Zaghleh restaurant) to Aqaba (Alia Restaurant).
Fukharat, with eggplants, mushrooms and other vegetables, minced meat or in a vegetarian version, comes in a traditional clay pot. It is served covered by a thin and soft pita, which reveals its rich contents once pierced.
We discovered Fukharat during our stay in Madaba, at Ayola restaurant. Order only one portion, very big and enough for two people, perhaps with a side dish of Manakish!
Manakish (also Mannaqish) is a kind of flatbread or focaccia, which comes with different ingredients. The simplest version is topped with zaatar, a mix of herbs as thyme and sesame, sometimes garnished with diced feta or halloumi cheese.
One of our favorite snacks to eat in Jordan, easy to find around the bakeries of Amman, Madaba and Wadi Musa, but featured as a side dish on some restaurant menus too.
We end on a sweet note with the most typical desserts in Jordan. Kunafah (also knafeh) reigns supreme, a delicious dessert made with fresh cheese, covered with a crunchy paste of semolina and sugar syrup.
Watch skilled chefs whip up giant pans of kunafah at Amman’s acclaimed Habibah Sweets. Also in the same pastry shop and around Jordan you will often find baklava, the dessert of Turkish origin with filo dough, almonds and cinnamon.
11. BONUS: JORDANIAN TEA
It may not be a food, but Jordanian tea deserves a mention in the list of things to taste in Jordan. It will be offered to you very often, and at any time of day! A rite especially for the Bedouins in Wadi Rum and Petra, but in most restaurants a glass of tea is usually served complimentary after a meal.
Not everyone knows that, despite being hot, tea helps fighting high body temperatures, which is essential in the desert. Jordanians like it very sweetened and with herbs, we loved their mint tea and sage tea!
DRINKING, SMOKING, EATING IN JORDAN
Speaking of drinks, we remind you that alcohol is not easily to find in the Muslim country of Jordan, and the few restaurants that sell it have high prices, understandably.
Smoking both cigarettes and shisha (hookah) is legal and common in almost all public places, ask for a non-smoking hotel room or lounge in restaurants if smoke bothers you.
Finally an indication about food prices. Most of these dishes should cost between 2 and 6 JD, maximum 9-10JD (14€) in the most fancy restaurants.
Now you have a better idea of what to eat in Jordan: enjoy it!
Plan your trip to Jordan with our post 10 days in Jordan itinerary guide
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