A social experience and an explosion of exotic flavors

Although kebab restaurants seem to invade every corner of the city, they produce a misleading image: Jordanian gastronomy is not just that, but a much more surprising and sophisticated variety of local dishes full of originality and flavor. And what is more important: it is a whole social experience, ideal to get to know a little better the tastes of this people so anchored in traditions.

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The two main traditions in Jordanian cuisine

The two great traditions in Jordanian cuisine are influenced by various culinary styles, thanks to its strategic location on ancient caravan routes. Traders and products from countries like Egypt, India, Turkey, and Lebanon, among others, passed through here, leaving a significant impact on the country’s gastronomy.

However, Jordanians have not limited themselves to copying and replicating their neighbors’ dishes but have put their own twist on them to create original and distinctive recipes. Nevertheless, travelers looking to sample Jordanian cuisine can categorize most recipes into two major traditions: Arab and Bedouin.

  • Arab cuisine in Jordan is characterized by dishes and ingredients that can be found in other Arab countries. For instance, ful medames, a stew made from fava beans, is a typical dish. Bread is almost sacred, with the most common being unleavened bread or khobz. Common ingredients inherited from the Arab world include olives, hard-boiled eggs, or cheese, much like neighboring countries. However, your taste buds will be most delighted with the spice blends that enhance the flavors and add a touch of exoticism. Some table manners are also inherited from the Arab world, such as using only the right hand (the left hand is considered impure) or washing hands in front of everyone if possible.
  • Bedouin cuisine, on the other hand, is a style that makes the most out of the available ingredients that were once less varied. In fact, they use even the liquid fat extracted from cooking meat. Camel milk, dried dates, or pine nuts are some of the products often used in their dishes. In addition, cooking in the desert still involves earth ovens, which are holes filled with wood embers over which foods like lamb are cooked.
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List of iconic dishes and products from Jordanian cuisine

This is a list of typical dishes and products from Jordanian cuisine. Some of them are only available at certain times of the year, as local cuisine is very seasonal:

  • Makloubeh: made with chicken, vegetables, rice, and spices
  • Mensaf: with lamb, rice, pine nuts, and yogurt sauce
  • Fasoliyeh: stewed beans with tomato and rice
  • Bazelleh: stewed peas with rice
  • Baba Ganoush: eggplant
  • hummus Zarb: Bedouin barbecue cooked in the desert over whose coals you can place chicken or lamb meat, but also carrots or potatoes, among other options
  • Waraq Enab: grape leaves stuffed with lamb meat, onion, rice, tomato, and parsley, among other ingredients
  • Fast food: there are typical specialties in cheap and street-level establishments. Among the most common dishes are:
    • Shawarma: lamb or chicken in flatbread, with onion and tomato
    • Falafel: fried balls made of chickpeas and spices Farooj: grilled chicken with pickles and onion
    • Shish tawoop: spiced chicken skewers

Typical Jordanian beverages

As a predominantly Muslim country, drinking alcohol is frowned upon by the faithful, although foreign visitors can do so discreetly. In fact, Jordan has a budding wine and beer sector, largely driven by Christian entrepreneurs.

In any case, the main beverages in Jordan are tea and coffee. Tea, or shai, is the most popular drink, whether it is mint or in the form of spice infusions. Coffee, or qahwa, is usually flavored and can be served in a large or small cup. But the important thing is that both beverages are very social, as men often gather around them in cafés while playing games or smoking a hookah.

Therefore, Jordanian cuisine can be considered another incentive for your trip, especially if you venture off the beaten path of dining and decide to reserve at quality restaurants.

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