Jordan, famous for its sights and culture is also a great food destination to explore all of your senses. From traditional recipes in the North to traditional recipes in the South and everything in between with street food and palpable options, here is our complete list of Jordanian food that you need to try while visiting Jordan.
WARNING: Reading this post may make you hungry, we do not take that liability.
Traditional Jordanian Food
The Levant, which consisted of Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria plays a large role in the intersection of food cuisine in Jordan and it can be presently seen in the preservation of these recipes today and some of the overlap when visiting other countries in the region.
While we didn’t want to be basic, we had to begin this article with highlighting Jordan’s most famous dish, mansaf. A traditional dish served in Jordan it consists of lamb, fermented dried yogurt (jameed) and served with rice. Topped with nuts and eaten alongside different types of vegetables, like onion, radish and more, it is best eaten with your hands.
So before heading to Jordan, practice putting your left hand behind your back, your right hand, forming almost a ball shape, so you can roll up the rice and your jameed together with some meat. Also, remember to only eat from your side of the platter.
Thankfully, we also have an experience in As-Salt with Umm Omar, where you have the opportunity to learn how to make the most famous ingredient in mansaf, jameed.
Cha’cheel is a dish that originated in the North of Jordan and highlights the intersectionality of the infamous dumpling form and a traditional dish of the North.
Found in many cuisines around the world, the dumpling is also present here in Jordan. Cha’cheel is stuffed lentil dumplings that get topped with the infamous jameed. It is a very old recipe pertinent to Northern Jordan, so don’t expect it to be found easily while visiting the country, however, if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon it, your taste buds are in for a whirl.
Here we go into the intersection of cuisine from different Arab countries around the region with a traditional recipe called zarb. Today, it is most easily found while visiting Wadi Rum and Petra as it is a spectacle and fun way to eat food.
Much like the idea of a barbeque, the method begins by digging a hold in the soft sand, then wood and coals get placed under. Afterwards, the food gets prepared in layers with meat, vegetables and spices, then submerged underground and left for several hours. This old method was mostly used in the past, to ensure that no animals could graze on the food.
Afterwards, it gets pulled out and served. Served alongside different types of appetizers like salads, hummus, yogurt, and mutabal (roasted eggplant), it can be eaten with rice or with potatoes. It is also great food to eat after a long journey hanging around in the desert.
Maglobeh or known as upside down is not the place you are going to venture too, any Stranger Things fans out there, but a dish that gets cooked and flipped upside down. It is also famous in Palestinian cuisine as well.
The dish includes spiced rice, fried vegetables (cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes and carrots) cooked with chicken or lamb and simmered, then flipped over on a large metallic plate where all the juices start going over the rice.
So venture to the upside down, it is actually safe here and tasty.
Meaning buried in English, think of makmoura as a Jordanian pie. Layered with chicken, onions and layered with dough, it is oven cooked until well done and sliced like cake. So have your cake and eat it too with makmoura.
Vegetarian Food Options in Jordan
While Jordan is famous for its many meat and chicken dishes, the country also has a lot of great vegetarian and vegan food options as well. So let’s dig in!
1. Jordanian Breakfast
Many Jordanian breakfast dishes are vegetarian or vegan in nature. You can easily enjoy different types of dishes like the infamous falafel, which is fried chickpea, hummus, fattet hummus, foul, fried halloumi cheese and moajanat, which are like pastries served mostly in the morning that can be easily ordered vegetarian or vegan.
Falafel sandwiches are a great thing to eat on the go and many places in Jordan have some amazing falafel places for you to eat and enjoy, also falafel being relatively cheaper is also a famous street food in Jordan. Moreover, many dishes from the Levant can easily be made vegetarian and breakfast is always a safe bet. So enjoy an infamous trip to Hashem in Downtown Amman and enjoy a bustling breakfast treat.
Also, the infamous galayet bandora or tomato dish in Jordan is a delicacy that gets served with warm bread in many hiking or adventure excursions in Jordan.
2. Appetizers or Mezzas
Many appetizers in Jordan are vegetarian and or vegan and can easily be paired for you to enjoy and actually get full on. Many cold appetizers like yalanji (stuffed grape leaves), fattoush (salad topped with fried pita), tabbouleh (parsley salad), mutabel, baba ghanoush, hummus and tahini based dishes can easily be ordered to showcase a beautiful colorful spread and actually eaten on a hot day to keep you cool.
Lentil soup or shorebet addas is another famous vegetarian dish that you can find during the colder months in Jordan and when it is served with lemon, it is absolutely delicious.
Many dishes can be modified, so don’t even worry about it, if you want something more on the cooked side to fill you up. Dishes like mujadara which is cooked rice and lentils, is a great dinner option that is hearty and filling.
In Arabic, you can always say ana nabati, which means I am vegetarian for a male and ana nabatiye for a female. This can help the waiter decide which dishes are best for you.
Also, many places in Jordan are vegetarian or vegan friendly, so feel free to check out Wild Jordan, Shams Al Balad and Kawon in Madaba for a start.
Jordanian Sweets to Try
It would be hard not to mention kanafeh while mentioning Jordanian sweets to try. Kanafeh made of wheat, cheese, ghee, rose water and sugar, can be ordered in two different types. Khisneh, meaning rough, is the crunchy bits of phyllo dough of the knafeh base on top and naameh means fine, has the phyllo dough cut up finely. In the middle, sweet cheese is found and when it is cut up and served on a plate, the cheese pulls nicely and is quite a spectacle to see.
Amongst locals, the argument of whether khishneh or naameh is better is quite a fun argument amongst friends and family and an important debate on which type of knafeh is the best. So if you’re trying this Jordanian sweet for the first time, we recommend ordering both and being part of the fun debate.
Many places in Jordan serve knafeh, but if you want a classical place to try and get the full experience, we recommend going to Habibah Sweets in Downtown Amman. With the hustle and bustle of many people, it is part of a fun experience that you won’t want to miss. Since it’s so easy to get, you will also find that it is a popular street food in Jordan as well.
Famous in many different parts of the Levant as well as Greece, Baklava gets served in Jordan as well and paired alongside coffee nicely. Many places sell baklava in Jordan by the kilo and it’s quite a nice treat to bring back home to friends.
A hearty dough mix of flour, sesame seeds, anise and cinnamon fried with ghee, it is a traditional sweet found mostly in the North of Jordan. While it’s not something easily found in restaurants around Jordan, if you’re taking a tour of the North and trying traditional recipes, you are sure to find this sweet available to you.
4. Umm Ali
An Egyptian classic that got leaked into the levant has an amazing ancient history. The dessert, similar to bread pudding, gets cooked with pastry, either bread, pastry or puff pastry, divided into pieces and blended with pistachios, coconut flakes, raisins and sugar. It gets poured with milk and sometimes condensed milk and sprinkled with cinnamon.
5. Arabian Ice Cream
With a consistency similar to mozzarella cheese, booza or Arabic ice cream is sweetened and mixed with rose water and topped with pistachios. The new age of food enthusiasts now created a new variation to the dish by getting knafeh and putting a scoop of booza on top.
Street Food in Jordan
6. Karabeej Halab
Similar to churros, karabeej halab or kirbaj meaning whip, describes a dish that is played on from Syrian nut-filled cookies. While the base is very different from churros, they are made with semolina and topped with syrup. They are a perfect street food treat to try in Jordan that can easily be found in a cart.
You will see all types of shawarma when venturing in Jordan, but the food itself is more of a to-go street food item in Jordan. Marinated and roasted chicken or beef gets spiced and then wrapped around bread and served with a garlic sauce, mayo and the option for you to eat it alongside or inside your sandwich with pickles.
This is a unique dish to try if you’re looking for something interesting. Turmos or lupin beans is an ultimate street food in Jordan that gets brined with lots of salt as the original taste of it is bitter and then gets topped with lemon for an extra touch if you would like.
9. Corn in Cups
Street corn gets a lot of ways around a lot of countries, Jordan being no exception. The only exception is that you can enjoy street corn with lots of local spices.
We hope we have left you hungry enough to come explore Jordan! While Jordan is known for its sightseeing and culture, the gastronomy of different traditional dishes, sweets and street food culture is not to be missed as well. This is our complete list of Jordanian food that you need to try while visiting Jordan. What did we miss?