There is so much delectable Jordanian food in Jordan that you will never go hungry when you visit. You might even learn that you like things you never thought to try before, too.
Having been to Jordan twice for a total of 4 weeks, we’ve had the privilege of experiencing many of the best dishes, drinks, snacks, and mezzes that this country has to offer.
We figured it was time for us to share some of our favorites! Including some special experiences that elevate the cultural food experience. The best part is that we were able to experience all of this, and more, by joining a group tour. Yes, group tour travel doesn’t mean you can’t get local.
Our 7-day Jordan Escape, in partnership with Globus Journeys, allowed us to completely immerse in the local culture and tradition that the country has to offer. We formed bonds with the local people we met and had the opportunity to experience their country through their food.
We wrote a fully detailed overview of our tour experience here: 7 Days in Jordan: The Globus Escape Experience
15 Must-Have Jordanian Food Experiences
1. Say Yes to a Cup of Jordanian Tea
Can you say you’ve been to Jordan if you don’t drink tea while you’re there? Ask any Jordanian and they’ll tell you no. With a smile on their face, of course. Tea is the prequel to any Jordanian meal and is always on offer.
Drinking tea is a deeply rooted tradition across the country and there wasn’t a place that we visited where it wasn’t offered. Offering tea is as casual as offering a handshake in this part of the world.
As far as the taste, the most common is black tea boiled with sugar that is often infused with cardamom, sage, or mint. The tea is served hot and in tiny clear glasses with a small handle.
2. Indulge in Fresh Juices
After you’ve tried some tea, we’d recommend ordering a fresh juice to go with your meal. The first one we tried was the famed Limonana, a tart lemon juice drink that has earned the title of the national drink of Jordan.
Better yet, if you’re visiting during pomegranate season, you cannot go wrong with a fresh fruit juice. It will be freshly pressed in front of you and shaken. Bonus, you can get this at the food stand inside of Petra. It’s incredibly refreshing when you’ve been walking miles in the heat.
3. Eat All the Hummus
Every place you go in Jordan will have its own take on the delightful Middle Eastern staple of Hummus. What draws me to Jordanian hummus, though, is a delightful combination of chickpeas with lemon, garlic, tahini, and olive oil.
It is downright delicious and shouldn’t be missed. Which isn’t something that should be hard. It is served everywhere, traditionally with fresh flatbread, and is usually the first thing that comes to the table.
4. Sample the Jordanian Mouttabal
Mouttabal is a staple in Jordanian cuisine that is served as mezze – think Spanish tapas – with most meals. It closely resembles its Middle Eastern cousin, baba ghanoush, but is prepared in a way that is unique to Jordan.
What makes it different is the intense smoky flavor, that is achieved by charring the eggplant over an open flame before it is mixed with other ingredients.
It is then combined with tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and yogurt to create a distinct flavor profile that you cannot resist. It is then drizzled with high-quality olive oil and served with flatbread.
5. Try the Ful Medames
Made with fava beans, ful (pronounced fool) medames is a staple when eating any traditional Jordanian breakfast during your trip. The beans grow abundantly around the country and are slow-cooked and then mashed to create this side dish. They resemble refried beans in color and texture.
We saw this at most meals, placed on the table as mezze, and very often also included olive oil and zaatar spices. As with most dishes, it is served with flatbread or shrak. It goes without saying that this is one of the most popular foods in Jordan.
6. Hit Your Sweet Tooth with Kunafa
Jordanians also love their sweets, so you can expect to be offered a variety of sugary treats during your visit. The standout for us was a dish called kunafa.
This sweet, yet a bit savory treat is made by combining a crunchy filo wheat dough with a creamy cheese that is covered with a sweet syrup that tastes like honey. If you’re on the fence about sweets, you’ll love this one.
Our favorite place to get this treat is Habibah Sweets in downtown Amman. The shop was founded by Al-Haj Mahmoud Habibah and his brother Ahmad in 1951. The line out the door and down the street should give you all the validation you need to try it.
7. Try the National Dish of Jordan – Mansaf
Even if you’re not an adventurous eater, the national dish of Jordan, Mansaf, should be on your to-eat list when you visit. For no other reason than it is delicious.
Mansaf is one of the larger main dishes you can order and is traditionally made with baby lamb that is slow boiled with spices and cooked for around two hours. This makes it incredibly tender and very tasty.
Aside from the protein, the dish has several other components that come together to make this dish unique.
The base of the dish is basmati rice cooked in turmeric. While that is cooking, a sauce called jameed, made from goat yogurt is prepared along with a very thin flatbread called shrak.
When serving, the plate is layered first with rice, then with the lamb on top of the rice, and is garnished with pine nuts and parsley. The jameed is served on the side so you can add to your liking. As for the shrak, it is best used to pinch this delicious dish from the plate and into your mouth.
8. Taste Jordanian Chicken Maqluba (Upside Down)
Aside from mansaf, this is one of the most common dishes you will encounter in Jordan during your visit. The popular dish consists of meat that is usually chicken, rice, and fried vegetables.
These ingredients are placed into a pot together for cooking. When served, the pot is simply flipped upside down onto a serving plate. The name maqluba literally translates to upside down.
Each preparer seems to have its own take on this dish, adding various spices to give it a unique flare. No two dishes will taste alike but they will all be delicious.
9. Don’t Forget to Try A Kofta Kebab
A staple street snack, Kofta Kebabs are found in street markets and restaurants alike. They are a popular lunchtime snack and something you should certainly try on your visit to Jordan.
Traditionally, they are made with ground lamb and often have beef added to them. They are rolled in a variety of spices around a stick that is then placed on an open grill. They are often served with tahini and pita bread.
Spices you can expect include cayenne, mint, sumac, cinnamon, garlic, and black pepper in any combination.
10. Add A Little Zaatar
No matter where you dine in Jordan, you’ll find this brilliant spice blend on your table. Jordanians love it, you will too, and it can bring even the blandest dish to life.
The ingredients can vary by region in the Middle East but in Jordan, you’ll find it is mostly made with toasted sesame seeds, sumac ( a Middle Eastern spice), oregano, and thyme. They are ground together and set out to be dressed on your dish.
The most common way we saw it served was by mixing it in olive oil and serving it with flatbread. Jordanians also coat it over flatbread and bake it to resemble pizza. This is also tasty.
11. Go Gaga for Fattet Magdoos
Fattet Magdoos is hands down our favorite Jordanian food and uses basic ingredients to wow the taste buds. More so because we got to make it from scratch during an immersive cooking class at Beit Sitti in Amman (more on that below). It’s one of those dishes that requires patience and perfect timing.
It starts by charring eggplants over an open flame. While this is happening, tomato paste and onion are boiled in a pan with water and stock seasoning. Once boiling, several tablespoons of pomegranate molasses and the eggplant are added.
While that is reducing, tahini, lemon, garlic, and Greek yogurt are mixed separately. The dish is then prepared with layers, only right before you will serve it.
The first layer is crispy fried flatbread strips, followed by a layer of tomato sauce, and finished with the yogurt mix. Over and over until the dish is full. It is then topped with fried pine nuts and parsley.
It’s one of those dishes that you can’t stop eating. I think our table finished the bowl of it before we even touched anything else! Another take on this dish, called fattet hummus, replaces the eggplant with chickpeas.
12. Experience a Bedouin Shrak Demonstration
During our time in Wadi Rum with Globus, we were lucky to have a local living moment and real-time shrak demonstration. This showed us how the unleavened Bedouin bread is made in the heart of the desert.
What is shrak? It is a very thin flatbread that is made from wheat, and water that is cooked over hot coals.
To achieve the thinness, the bread is kneaded into a ball before being broken off into small balls that are then pressed flat overtop a round concave pan. This pan is then placed directly into the fire to more or less flash bake.
When the bread was removed, we were encouraged to dip it in a blend of olive oil and zaatar spices while it was still warm. It is one of the freshest food experiences we’ve had.
13. Cook Like a Grandmother at Beit Sitti
Located in Amman is the extraordinary kitchen of Beit Sitti. The name translates directly to grandmother, and this locally owned business offers authentic Jordanian cooking and dining experiences.
During our visit, we worked for our supper while learning all about Jordanian dishes from the enthusiastic and wildly talented Maria.
We prepared an Arabic feast that was fit for a king including Mandi Chicken, Moutabbal, fresh salad with pomegranate, and our favorite dish of Fattet Magdoos.
If you’re looking for an experience that pairs authentic cooking with passion, this is something you should sign up for. I don’t think we measured anything the whole night and everything was delicious. Maria is flawless in her instruction and ability to lead this cultural adventure.
14. Support the Women’s Coop at Beit Khayrat Souf
Another food experience highlight was our visit to Beit Khayrat Souf, a women-owned, and managed eco-restaurant and café located near the impressive ruins of Jerash.
This women’s cooperative operates within the historical and cultural heritage home of the Batarseh Family. The property is stunning, dating back to 1881 and providing an excellent backdrop for a lunch or tea stop en route to Jerash.
In 2016 it was renovated into a place where visitors can experience the taste and traditions of the Jordanian culture.
Much to our delight, we enjoyed an excellent locally made lunch that included traditional Jordanian food dishes such as hummus, kofta kebab, pomegranate salad, mutabal, chicken sawani, zaatar, Arabic rice, fresh vegetables, and Jordan’s famous lentil soup.
Following lunch we were offered mint tea on their outdoor patio, of course, and also had the chance to buy natural handmade products. This included jams, pickles, olive oil, vinegar, molasses, herbs, and a special secret blend of Jordanian coffee that has been in their family for many generations.
Beit Khairat Souf employs 25 women but is also a great launching pad for local youth interested in volunteering and learning about other cultures. Tourism projects like this are extremely important and we are honored to have spent an afternoon experiencing them.
15. Arrange a Jordanian Home Dinner Experience
For the ultimate cultural food experience, we recommend booking a local home dinner during your visit to Jordan. This same experience can be arranged through A Piece of Jordan.
We did this while in Wadi Musa (Petra) and it was not only authentic but an emotionally moving experience to be welcomed into the home of a local Jordanian family by Amena and Sohaeb.
From the moment we arrived, we were treated like we belonged to their family. They welcomed us with Jordanian coffee, followed by a full cultural breakdown of the significance it has to Jordanian culture. We were taught how to ask for it, how to receive it, and how to drink it.
Following coffee, we were invited to the kitchen, where the most beautiful large platter of mansaf would be prepared for us. Amena, the woman of the house, explained to us that she had hand-selected the goat at the market that morning for our feast.
We were given a full breakdown of her cooking process as she prepared the dish and brought it to the dining room. Here we were shocked to find a long table set with every Jordanian mezze you can imagine. All was freshly prepared by Amena and her family for our visit.
What followed was a feast, with instructions on how to eat mansaf the Jordanian way, with no cutlery. They showed us how to use the shrak as a vessel for sopping up the delicious jameed, rice, and lamb to be easily brought to your mouth.
We could have spent the whole night there just chatting away about life. It was almost like we had all been friends for years and were all at a family gathering filled with great food and amazing conversations.
Our Jordan Escape was part of a paid partnership with Globus Journeys. However, all opinions, stories, advice, and insane love for the food of Jordan are 100% ours, as always.
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