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When I travel to exotic foreign countries, I love to learn about their culture, and immerse myself in the local cuisine. Jordan is a country that evokes images of surreal desert landscapes, ancient historical ruins and monuments, and important religious sites, But diverse Middle Eastern-influenced food in Jordan is also an experience onto itself, especially since it’s served with the renowned Jordanian and Bedouin hospitality. The staples of Jordanian cuisine are similar to those of other Middle Eastern countries, due to centuries of shared history and trade. Some of my favorite restaurants in Jordan: • Sufra, Amman – a lovely historic villa on Rainbow Street – regarded as the best restaurant in Jordan and is frequently visited by the royal family. Make sure to ask for a table outside on the garden patio surrounded by flowers. • Habibah Sweets, Amman – the oldest sweet shop in Amman. Here you'll find the best knafeh in Jordan. • Sakeyat Addaraweesh, Amman – specialty was food cooked in clay pots that were cracked open when finished. • Frankfurter Coffee Shop & Bakery, Madaba – delicious Medjool dates, baklava, sesame cookies, and of course Turkish coffee. • Sheikh Alhara, Aqaba – seafood like grouper and shrimp. • Berenice Beach Club, Aqaba – what can I say, when you just have to have a pizza. Jordan Traditional Food Shawarma A legacy originating from the former Ottoman empire, Shawarma is made from slowly-rotating spits of sliced lamb, chicken or beef. The tasty meat is cut in thin slices, put in warm pockets of pita bread, then topped with yogurt and za'atar, a spice blend made with tangy sumac. I tried both lamb and chicken shawarma; the lamb was hands-down more delicious and savory than the chicken. Lamb Lamb is one of the tastiest meats around, and loved by most Middle Eastern countries. My favorite is the lamb kebab – spiced chunks of lamb, skewered and then grilled to savory perfection. If there’s a tastier carnivore choice, I haven’t found it yet. Felafel Crisp balls of falafel shaped from spiced, ground chickpeas are a street food staple across the Levant. Jordan, falafels are much larger and freshly prepared, which gives them greater texture and a brighter color, particularly in restaurants than the street-food variety which I found to be very dry and lacking flavor. Diverse falafel is served for breakfast, snacks, a stuffed into warm pita bread for a quick sandwich. Hummus Hummus is made from chickpeas pureed smooth with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic, and traditionally served with flatbread or with falafel. Sambosic Sambosic, also known as samosa in other Asian countries, is a fried filo dough pastry with a savory filling of cheese. They are usually served as a starter, but they are so light and delicious that I would be very happy to make my meal of these. One of my favorite Jordanian foods; in fact, I was scarfing them down so fast, I almost didn’t get to get a photo! Mezze In Middle Eastern cultures, meals are a multi-course affair. Mezze traditionally refers to smaller items served at the beginning of the meal. A typical mezze includes foods such as kibbeh, labaneh, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, olives, pickles, hummus, and pita bread. Fattoush Fattoush is an aromatic salad of garden veggies and fried pieces of pita bread often spiced with sumac. Kobbeh Kobbeh is a fulfilling hand-held croquette consisting of a mix of bulgur, finely ground meat, onions, peppers, and spices, and shaped like an American football and deep fried until it’s crispy and brown. Kobbeh is eaten as a starter, mezze, snack or as a side dish. Tabbouleh Tabbouleh is a traditional Middle Eastern dish made of bulgur, tomatoes, parsley, mint and onions with olive oil, lemon juice and salt for seasoning. Maqluba The word maqluba means "upside down," and it's a dish that dates back to 13th-century Kitāb Al-tabīkh, a collection of recipes from medieval Baghdad. Maqluba's is Jordan’s version of comfort food, and the drama is all in the presentation, not in the taste, IMHO. Spiced rice, chicken, potatoes and vegetables are placed in an earthen pot and cooked for a long time over low heat. When done, the large pot is inverted tableside. It wasn’t my favorite dish as I don’t eat rice, potatoes or vegetables, and chicken is my least favorite meat, but it may be worth a try for you. Galayet Bandora Galayet Bandoret is made with stewed tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and olive oil which are placed in a clay pot and slow cooked. It’s a kind of simple tomato stew, accompanied with rice or bread. My vegetarian friend ordered it and allowed me to sample – it tasted like stewed tomatoes to me…I wasn’t fond of it – I liked by grilled lamb much better. Turkish Coffee Thick, rich, and spiced with Cardamom, Turkish coffee is an acquired taste. Sometimes described as “mud-like,” I do like the taste…and the dramatic pick-me-up! Bedouin Food With a long tradition as nomads, Jordan's Bedouin people have developed a cuisine that's perfectly adapted to cooking over desert campfires and in dug-out fire pits. Zarb After a full day exploring the exquisite sand dunes and riding camels in the Wadi Rum, desert, you’ll be ready for the Bedouin hospitality and cooking in your camp. A hearty meal best eaten under the stars, zaarb is the Bedouin version of barbecue, made from marinated lamb and chicken mixed with chunks of vegetables, placed on a covered rack, then baked in a dug pit lined with hot stones and coals and covered over by sand and blankets to roast for hours, until the meat falls off the bone. Mansaf Celebrated as Jordan's national dish, mansaf has deep roots in the nomadic Bedouin tradition who roamed the desert. It’s a traditional dish that thrives throughout the Levant, with recipes appearing from Israel to Iraq. Love of mansaf unites all Jordanians. Because water was scarce, mansaf is made with dehydrated ingredients, such as rice and dried yoghurt called jameed. Chunks of lamb (or sometimes camel) are marinated with fermented jameed, cooked, and served on a bed of bulgur or rice drizzled with yogurt sauce. Cinnamon Tea But there are Bedouin tents lining even the most remote deserts of Wadi Rum, and many hikers are invited for tiny glasses of sweetened tea. Sharing tea is an important part of Bedouin culture, as is their remarkable hospitality. The delicious tea is often steeped with sweet cinnamon and aromatic sage and cardamom. Jordan Sweets Sweets in Jordan have a complexity to them that American sweets do not. The use of spices and layers of flavor produce desserts that have bold and delicate, sweet and savory aspects that are positively addicting. Kunafeh Kunafeh is said to have spread across the Levant with Ottoman rule. It’s a traditional Jordanian pastry made with two layers of crispy filo dough with hot tangy Akkawi cheese in the middle, thin noodles on top for extra texture and crunch, and covered with sticky, sugary sweet syrup that oozes from the edge of the pastry. It is sometimes flavored with rose water and/or pistachios.The combination of savory and sweet, crunchy and soft, and warm and cool sensations is ridiculously delicious! The best kunafeh in all of Jordan is hands-down Habibah Sweets, the oldest sweet shop in Amman. Their kunafah is legendary! Medjool Dates Medjool dates are a variety of dates enjoyed for their superior natural sweetness and chewy texture. They're larger, darker, and a richer, almost caramel-like taste than other dates. They positively melt in your mouth. I don’t typically eat fruit, but I could not get enough of these! Baklava Baklava is Kanafeh’s main rival as Jordan’s preferred desert. While the name may sound familiar, the Middle East baklava isn’t as sticky or soaked with honey as say the baklava of Greece. Layers of flaky phyllo pastry alternate with a paste made of butter, walnuts and a sugary honey syrup. Unlike the huge chunks I’ve found in other Mediterranean and Middle East countries, the baklava is cut into small, bite size pieces. This means I had to eat quite a few to satisfy my ravenous sweet tooth. Sesame Cookies We found small, crunchy sesame biscuit-like cookies in a family-owned bakery in Madada. The less sweet and crunch were a nice contrast when eating alongside dates and baklava. Click below to PIN so you can find food in Jordan again: Disclosure: The author partnered with G Adventures during her stay in Jordan, but as always, the opinions, reviews, and experiences are her own. About the Author Patti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning international blog Luggage and Lipstick and southern travel blog Gone to Carolinas. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials” and she was named one of the “Top 35 Travel Blogs” in the world. Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. She has traveled extensively through six continents looking for fabulous destinations, exotic beaches, and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer tribe.

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When I travel to exotic foreign countries, I love to learn about their culture and immerse myself in the local cuisine. Jordan is a country that evokes images of surreal desert landscapes, ancient historical ruins and monuments, and important religious sites, But diverse Middle Eastern-influenced food in Jordan is also an experience in itself, especially […]

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