Our Pick of Best Jordanian Food
Updated: Mar 9, 2022
We believe food is the window to a place and its people!
Food of a region reflects the culture, heritage, history, geography and natural resources of a place. Jordan is no exception to this. The rustic yet delicious food of Jordan tells stories about this region and how people of Jordan for hundreds of years have made most of what was available in this region and that over the years has developed into one of the most extraordinary cuisines.
Due to its location, Jordanian food has had huge influences from the Mediterranean, Persian, Middle Eastern and North African cuisines.
We devoured everything- from the humble hummus to the rustic but complex Bedouin delicacy ‘Zarb’. Here are the top 15 dishes we have tried and loved during our trip to Jordan.
Hummus is perhaps the brand ambassador of Middle Eastern food!!
But you don’t know the real deal until you eat it in the middle east - so while we were there, we were eating hummus at every meal. It is a league apart from its western supermarket cousins!
The effortless but delicate balance between the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil makes it addictive!
Very similar to baba ghanoush yet very different!
Moutabel is also quite a celebrity the world over - this smoky silky-smooth roasted aubergine (eggplant) dip works like magic in your mouth when paired with some warm fluffy bread!! Baba ghanoush on the other hand has tahini (sesame puree) but there are regional variations (with other veggies and without etc.)
So when you want to go healthy you choose falafel wraps! Falafels are everywhere in Jordan - these crispy, light fluffy beauties made with chickpeas paste bathed in herbs and spices are best eaten hot! They are deep fried and made into a wrap. The best falafel we had during our stay in Jordan was in Madaba from a dainty little but super crowded shop which was just outside the Church of Saint George.
Deep fried Falafel
Falafel in Pitta Bread
This is a big brother of Jordanian food. A truly Bedouin dish that is cooked underground. A mixture of chicken, lamb, rice and vegetables (onion, carrot and potatoes) are placed on tiered trays with rice on the bottom. This setup then goes into a hole in the ground which first gets filled with red hot coal. The hole is then covered with rag/blanket and topped with sand on to seal the heat underground. This is a slow cooking process and after a few hours the grilled meat and vegetables comes out where the succulent meat and chicken fall off the bone. Zarb is mainly prepared in the desert area of Jordan and we ate this both in Wadi Musa (near Petra) and in Wadi Rum.
Zarb just out from underground oven
The delicacy - Zarb
5. Lamb Fukhara
This is a clay pot dish where the rice and the lamb are packed in a clay pot and slow cooked over charcoal. This is traditionally a Palestinian dish. Slow cooking keeps the meat succulent and the rice flavoured with all the juice and flavour of the lamb.
If there is one Jordanian dish that is without any doubt is most talked about and most popular among the locals and tourists then it has to be Mansaf. No trip to Jordan is complete without eating a plate of this Jordanian delicacy which often considered as the national dish of Jordan. This dish is unique to Jordan and only found in this region of the Middle East. Typically mansaf is made up of three parts – rice, lamb and ‘jameed’. Jameed is a thick gravy which is made from rehydrating hard dried out fermented goat milk yogurt which is finally is poured over the rice and lamb.
Mansaf with a bowl of Jameed
7. Shish Kebabs
Shish Kebabs need no introduction!
Very popular in Jordan and across the Middle East these are deliciously marinated chicken, mince lamb, grilled over hot charcoal in skewers along with peppers and tomatoes. They are served with thin bread and can be eaten with dips like hummus and moutabel.
Lamb and Chicken Shish Kebab
8. Chicken Liver
Typically served as mezze dish, chicken liver is a unique Jordanian dish. Lightly marinated with garlic, parsley and salt, chicken livers are sautéed in olive oil and served hot. The best chicken liver dish should be light in seasoning and creamy in texture. This can be eaten on its own or with bread and hummus.
Slowed cooked chicken liver in oil and herbs
Another very popular street food of Jordan which is similar to the Greek souvlaki or Turkish kebab. Typically made with chicken, lamb or beef, the slow grilled meat is served wrapped in bread with a dash of garlic sauce, tahini and pickled vegetables. The boneless chicken, lamb or beef are stacked on a large skewer and rotated slowly to grill the meat. The crispy outer layer is skilfully shaved off as thin slices with a knife. The best shawarmas in Jordan are typically found in street shops.
Chicken Shawarma in hot grill
10. Kofta Bi Tahini
Kofta Bi Tahini is a dish of minced kebab/kofta, potato and thick tahini sauce. The koftas are placed at the bottom of shallow bowl, then topped with slices of potato and then filled with tahini sauce and baked. This is best served with rice as a main course.
Kofta Bi Tahini
11. Fatayer Jebneh (Cheese Pies)
This is a very traditional Jordanian dish we tasted in Wadi Musa (Petra). Small diamond shaped pastries filled with goat cheese or minced meat. The opening in the middle gives a sneak peek into the filling. Mainly eaten as snacks or in between meals, these taste best when hot.
These are the small dough balls that are deep fried in oil and then soaked in honey or sugar syrup. ‘Awameh’ in Arabic literally means floater, as these float on oil while frying. Awameh goes well with a cup of strong Arabic coffee.
13. Atayef (Qataeyf)
Qataeyf is a popular pastry dish in Middle East, especially during Ramadan. Much like pancakes, these are made from a thick batter which is poured over a hot pan. These are only cooked on one side - once they turn golden, they are filled with cream, cheese, nuts and soaked in sugar syrup.
Atayef or also know as Qataeyf
14. Bedouin tea
This is more popular in the central and south part of the country, especially in the desert areas. What makes the Bedouin tea special is the use of wild herbs like wild sage and thyme which grows in abundance in Jordan and other places in the Middle East. The water is first boiled at length with sugar and herbs before adding the tea leaves. A cup of Bedouin tea is best enjoyed in the desert of Wadi Rum at sunset or at sunrise.
Bedouin Tea made in wood fire
Early morning Bedouin tea in the desert of Wadi Rum
Breads are essential part of Jordanian diet and the main source of carbohydrates. Almost all restaurants in Jordan give complimentary bread with starters and with main course. Fresh and hot bread is heavenly and works wonders when paired with dips, grilled meat and veggies.
The simple but essential part of Jordanian cuisine - bread