Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan

John Goodrick's picture
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One of my favorite parts of living in Jordan was the food! Here is a list of the top 10 foods that you should eat while in Jordan. There is also an “honorable mentions” list, which is dedicated to all of the foods that are fun to try, but, in my humble opinion, are not palate pleasers. 

Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons: Unai Guerra, adapted by Wandering Educators

Some general notes about Jordanian cuisine:

Jordan is not big on seafood. Since it is almost completely landlocked, with the exception of the city of Aqaba which lies on the Red Sea, it is rare to find fish in their dishes. Alcohol is also taboo since it is haram (forbidden) in Islam.   

Falafel

Falafel. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan
Photo Wikimedia Commons: yummyporky

If you are a vegetarian and enjoy fried foods, falafel is right up your alley! Falafel is a fried ball of vegetable paste and typically put on sandwiches or eaten with hummus. I promise that fried vegetable paste is much better than it sounds!

Shawarma

Shawarma. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan

Photo Wikimedia Commons: Schellack

Shawarma became a staple of my lunch food when I lived in Jordan. It is made of chicken cooked on a spit (the same way gyro meat is cooked) and wrapped in flatbread with various spices. If you like gyros, then you will most likely like shawarma too!

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan - Stuffed Grape Leaves
 

This dish speaks for itself. Grape leaves are wrapped into cylinders around seasoned rice, and in some cases, ground beef. Grape leaves are served warm and are a fresh and tangy addition to any meal. 

Fattoush

Fattoush. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan

Photo Wikimedia Commons: Miansari66

Also known as “Arabic salad,” fattoush is lettuce mixed with various vegetables and pita. It is made unique from with mint leaves and pomegranate juice. It serves as a great appetizer and is easy to make!

Koosa

Koosa. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan
Kousa with cheesy mashed potatoes by @joefoodie, on Flickr creative commons

Koosa is a common dinner food in Jordan. It can be made differently depending on the cook, but generally consists of zucchini filled with rice and, in some cases, meat. Commonly eaten with rice or stuffed grape leaves.

Manakeesh

Manakeesh. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan

Photo Wikimedia Commons: Nsaum75

This food is similar to pizza in that the foundation is a circular piece of bread called khubz (the word for bread in Arabic). The khubz is topped with a seasoning called za’atar, which is crushed thyme and sesame. Some manakeesh has cheese or ground meat on top, and is typically eaten for breakfast.

Mo’ajanat

These triangular pastries are similar to manakish in that they can be filled with za’atar, cheese, or meat. They are fun to eat because, like chocolates, “you never know what you’re gonna get” (Forrest Gump reference). 

Kabob

Kabob. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan

Photo Wikimedia Commons: Chaojoker

Jordan has fantastic kabob. The most common is lamb kabob made with spiced lamb and grilled vegetable. It is usually eaten with bread, and is a common dish that you will see everywhere all over the country. Sometimes kabob will be served with pieces of animal fat, which are considered a delicacy in Bedouin culture—so eat it! 

Maqlooba

Maqlooba. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan
Photo Wikimedia Commons: arafataslan

Perhaps one of the more famous dishes in Jordan, Maqlooba literally means “upside-down” in Arabic. Layers of rice chicken and spiced vegetables are put into a big pot. After it is done cooking, the contents of the pot are flipped upside-down creating a layered mountain of food, hence the name maqlooba.

Mansaf

Mansaf. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan
Photo Wikimedia Commons: historyfeelings

Mansaf is the national dish of Jordan! People in Jordan are extremely hospitable and I found that if you are ever invited over for dinner, mansaf is a common dish to be served. Mansaf is served on a large circular platter with a large mound of rice, nuts and meat. There is a special yoghurt sauce that is poured over everything.

It is also important that you know how to eat mansaf. Usually, people don’t serve rice on individual plates, but instead use their hands to eat together off of one big platter. This is indicative of Jordanian culture, where many things are done together with friends and family instead of individually. You grab a handful of rice and meat and squeeze it into a ball in your hand before eating it. Don’t use your left hand when eating mansaf—it is considered impolite. 

Honorable mentions:

Shaneeneh

Shaneeneh. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan
Istanbul :: Ayran by tomislav medak, on Flickr creative commons

This beverage probably makes the list of top ten worst things I’ve ever tasted. If you never plan on going to the Middle East and are curious what shaneeneh tastes like, all you need to do is let some milk spoil for a couple days, add some salt, and then you’ll pretty much get the gist of what it tastes like. It is also called by several other names in the Middle East, including Ayran.

Tabouleh

Tabouleh. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan
Photo Wikimedia Commons: Miansari66

Most people enjoy tabouleh. It is not uncommon to see this served in some restaurants here in the US. It is made of mint, parsley, couscous, and various chopped vegetables and is eaten by scooping up the tabouleh with whole leaves of lettuce. Although I’m not particularly a fan, it is a common dish to eat with guests and as an appetizer at restaurants.

Camel

Camels in Wadi Rum. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Jordan
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons: Jean Housen

Camel is not a very common dish in Jordan, although if you look in the right places you might be able to find it. I was really excited when I found a camel burger on a menu. It tastes very similar to beef except chewier.  It is definitely worth trying! 

 

 

One of the best parts of travel is that it makes even the most ordinary daily routines, such as eating, an adventure. Whatever place you find yourself in, pick foods that are going to create lasting memories. Some foods may look and smell intimidating, but they might turn out to be pretty tasty. And if not, well at least you’ll have a good story to tell. 

 

 

John Goodrick is the Middle Eastern Culture and Politics Editor for Wandering Educators

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (1)

  • Stasia Lopez

    6 years 4 months ago

    Great job John!! Everything looks delicious and now I'm hungry! These foods are similar to the Greek food I grew up with. It also makes me want to travel to Jordan now! :)

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