If the way to your heart is through your stomach, you’ll be in food heaven with Jordanian cuisine. Take in the irresistible aromas and tantalising flavours, born from a rich and diverse culinary history, and prepare to experience love at first bite with these top 5 foodie experiences in Jordan.
1. Wake up to a traditional breakfast
Start your day right with kaek, a delicious sesame-crusted bread, straight from the heart of a blazing hot oven. Eat yours with soft white cheese, fresh from the herds of the Jordanian hills, or slow-baked eggs, sprinkled with harissa and the ubiquitous Middle Eastern spice, za-atar. Alternatively, why not start the day with the local favourite, fuul medames? A concoction of hummus or tahini, warm fava beans, and a variety of tasty toppings, this delicious dish is served with pita bread or falafel for the true Arabic experience.
2. Shop the local markets
Perusing the local markets is one of the best free things to do in Jordan, but treating yourself to a few choice morsels certainly won’t break the bank! Immerse your senses in the exotic colours and spices of the souks, sampling locally-produced fruits like the sour plum janarek or a bag of luscious dates. Look out for Jordan street food vendors serving up aromatic falafel if you’re in the mood for a savoury snack or treat your sweet tooth to knafeh, a sweet pastry layered with cream cheese and soaked in rosewater and syrup.
3. Eat with the locals
Venture off the beaten track and experience the heart of Jordan by eating at the simple yet authentic eateries the locals tend to frequent. You may encounter the national dish, mansaf, a large platter of tender meat, smothered in yoghurt and topped with fried pine nuts and fresh cilantro. Mansaf is designed for communal eating, so tuck in and eat in the traditional way - by rolling the rice into balls with your hand. Alternatively, why not sit down with fellow guests to a Bedouin zarb at luxury resort Ayla? Delivered to a high-spec by a team of talented chefs, you’ll be enchanted by this traditional barbecue, and could meet some interesting characters while you dine.
4. Sample the sweet treats
If you’re passionate about puddings, the desserts in Jordan will sweep you off your feet. You may already be familiar with the buttery, nutty notes of more-ish baklava or the nougat-like texture of halwa, but there are more options on the must-try menu. Discover the donut-like dumplings, luqaimat, dipped in exquisite honey, and get acquainted with the creamy yet refreshing rice pudding, muhallabia, to make your foodie’s experience in Jordan complete.
5. Sip on mint tea or coffee
Cafe culture is big news in Jordan. Local people gather daily with friends, family, colleagues and even strangers to linger over good conversation while sipping cardamom-spiced coffee and mint tea. Accepting a hot beverage is also a time-honoured part of Bedouin culture, acknowledging the hospitality of your host. Expect traditional Jordanian coffee to be thick and strong while the hot black tea, flavoured with mint leaves, makes an excellent digestif.
With culinary influences from North Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean, you’ll find the list of Jordan foodie experiences will keep you busy for many visits to come. The best option is to return again and again to indulge in your favourites or learn to prepare the dishes at home to add a little Middle Eastern magic to your table.