Crazy and Delicious Foods You Must Try in Jordan

I don’t think I’ve ever over-eaten as much as I did while in Jordan. But looking back, I’m not even upset with myself- Jordanian food was absolutely delicious.

At one point the girls and I were so sick of over-eating we asked our guides if there was any way we could order less food at dinner.

They replied, “Uh no, not really.”

Anyway, thank god we packed loose clothing because otherwise I’m not sure if our skinny jeans would have survived.

Jordanian Food
This was a vegetarian dish, kind of like middle Eastern nachos covered in yogurt. So tasty.

What is Jordanian food like?

Jordanian food is very similar to Lebanese, and uses lots of Mediterranean ingredients like olive oil, garlic and lemon. Meals begin with mezze, or small-plate appetizers. Next is the main course of grilled lamb, beef chicken or kofte. Finally, you finish the meal with cardamom coffee and dessert. The style of eating is very communal and the food is healthy and light, both of which aspects I loved.

Here are the best things I ate while in Jordan. Needless to say, there was a lot of competition.

1. Mezze

Most meals in Jordan start with mezze: tabbouleh, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, pickled vegetables, olives, hummus, fattoush, labneh and pita.

As I would continue to do in Jordan, I wildly over-stuffed myself on mezze. With homemade hummus and tabbouleh, how could you not?

The Best of Jordanian Food
Clockwise from upper right: tabbouleh, falafel, chicken liver with garlic, grape leaves. Michigander readers- the mezze was identical to the Lebanese food in metro Detroit, who knew?

Where to find it: You can try mezze at most Jordanian restaurants, but we had the one pictured at Sufra Restaurant in downtown Amman. It was excellent!

2. Grilled meats

After mezze, you move on to piles and piles of grilled meats. But more specifically, shish taouk, chicken marinated in yogurt and lemon juice and grilled on a spit, and kofta, ground meat formed into a cylindrical shape and grilled.

As you can see here, it’s charred and juicy and oh-so-delicious.

Jordanian_Food_Meats
Jordanian Food

3. Chicken casserole (Fatet Djaj)

One of the best dishes I had in Jordan was Fatet Jaj. Fatet Jaj is a chicken casserole filled with rice, poached chicken and fried bread, and topped with yogurt and toasted almonds.

What I loved most about this dish was the texture; namely the juxtaposition between the fried bread and creamy yogurt. As a huge yogurt fan, this dish was one of my absolute favorites.

The Best of Jordanian Food

4. Lamb and yellow rice (Mansaf)

Almost every Jordanian we met would ask us, “Have you tried mansaf yet?” Which makes sense- mansaf is the national dish of Jordan.

Mansaf is a platter of tender lamb on the bone, yellow rice and marcona almonds, which is then drenched in hot yogurt sauce.

Jordanian food is always communal, but mansaf even more so, as you share mansaf as a table and eat it entirely with your hands.

The Best of Jordanian Food

Our guides asked us, “Do you want to eat it the real way or with a fork and knife?” Obviously, we wanted to eat it the real way.

To eat mansaf you take rice with your right hand and form it into an oval-shaped ball, which you then pop into your mouth. 

As a lefty, eating with my right hand was impossible and I probably looked like a one-year-old in a highchair. But seriously, try eating with your non-dominant hand some time- it’s trippy. It almost feels like someone else is feeding you.

But in the end, mansaf was worth looking like a total fool for. So. Good.

5. Jordanian casserole (Maqluba)

The Best of Jordanian Food

Maqluba, which means upside down, is a Jordanian casserole of meat, rice, vegetables and potatoes cooked in a black cast-iron pot and flipped over on a plate.

I loved the dramatic table-side service as well as the steaming pile of carbohydrates in front of me. Maqluba felt like Middle Eastern comfort food- warm, homey and simple; the kind of dinner you’d want on a cold day.

The Best of Jordanian Food

6. Labneh (yogurt with olive oil and spices)

Out of all the mezze we tried in Jordan, the only dish I didn’t know was labneh. And what a shame that was.

Labneh is salty yogurt that is served at breakfast and in mezze. It often comes topped with olive oil and walnuts, and is especially good with za’atar and pita. I need to find labneh in the states because I would totally have it for breakfast every day.

Jordanian Food

7. Kufta with tahini sauce (Kufta bel taheenyeh)

This was by far one of the best foods I had in Jordan. This dish was made of pounded veal and tahini sauce, and topped with green peppers and potatoes. It was creamy and lemony and tangy – such a treat.

Jordanian_food
Photo courtesy of Sateless Suitcase

8. Homemade Pita

While in the Dana Biosphere Reserve, we met a Bedouin family who taught us how to make pita.

The Best of Jordanian Food
The Best of Jordanian Food

First you mix together flour and water, and knead it into dough. Then you bury the dough under charcoal and let it cook. Once it’s done, you dust off the charcoal and eat it.

The Best of Jordanian Food

The bread was so earthy and nuanced in flavor- I loved the charcoal taste that remained as well. It was especially good with piping hot sweet tea.

9.Osmaliyeh

While I’m not a huge fan of sweets, I really enjoyed osmaliyeh. Osmaliyeh is shredded phylo dough filled with rosewater cream and topped with crushed pistachio.

I loved how light and airy it was, with a touch of sweetness. And while I enjoy baklava, it so heavy and cloyingly sweet; honestly I’d prefer osmaliyeh any day.

Jordanian_Food_ Osmaliyeh

Have you tried Jordanian food before? Which of these dishes sounds best to you?

I was a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board, but as always, all opinions are my own.

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

28 thoughts on “Crazy and Delicious Foods You Must Try in Jordan”

  1. Your Jordan series has been truly fantastic! Before, it never occurred to me as a destination at all – now I want to go diving in the Dead Sea (and I will!).

    Also…. I need to go if only to try the nachos.

  2. Dear Ashley, they just asked for a valid email address after I sent you or tried
    to send you a message…try again..
    You had such fun trying all those tantilating dishes. The Fatel Jai –chicken casserole sounds fabulous, as do many of the others.

    What feasts and good times you had!

    Love,

    Gamma

    • All of the food was delicious! I’m sure you would find it very similar to the Lebanese food we have in metro Detroit. I was actually shocked but how identical the food was in Jordan!

  3. My goodness, those “nachos” look delicious! Actually, all of this looks quite tasty. All of the tastes I really enjoy in food, and so I must try some of these dishes. Thank you so much for sharing! I have been loving all of the Jordan posts. :)

  4. Jordanian food sounds amazing – especially the mezze, homemade pita, and osmaliyeh. Every time I read a post about Jordanian food, I feel the need to browse flight prices to Amman!

  5. I have truly loved all of your Jordan posts, but this might just be my favorite. While I’ve never eaten Jordanian food I have had scores of Middle Eastern fare (Lebanese, Syrian, and Israeli) and I simply adore it. I actually love Middle Eastern desserts-I love how ingredients like honey and rose water play such prominent roles :) The osmaliyeh sounds delicious.

    • I also love the honey and rose water- honey in the Middle East is ridiculously good (and so different!). I found Jordanian to be really similar to Lebanese with a few signature dishes.

  6. Um, I’m pretty sure I would eat very well in Jordan. Even though it’s not completely vegetarian friendly, there are still some amazing vegetarian options. And the Middle Eastern-style nachos covered in yogurt…that sounds pretty awesome to me! Any dish described as nachos instantly piques my interest :)

  7. I’ve been waiting for this food post! Your photos are so great! (And did you guys share nail polish or did you have help taking that photo of the pita and tea? Haha, the things I notice in pictures.) I love mezze and that mansaf looks great – I’d love to go somewhere that I’m encouraged to eat with my hands in public.

    • Haha you are very observant! That actually was Jessica’s hand- she was holding up the pita and tea for me so I could take a picture :).

      And eating mansaf was very bizarre- I’m not joking when I said I looked like a toddler, ha.

  8. So easy to make lebaneh,it’s literally yoghurt strained,just pour yoghurt( Greek works best in the west)into a kitchen tissue lined sieve ,over a bowl,and leave in fridge for 24 hours,throw away water ,gently remove lebaneh by tipping sieve gently over a bowl,add pinch salt and stir ,drizzle with olive oil

  9. I agree with you about the food, i am Jordanian and i cook all this and my American friends just love it, my husband is Lebanese and our foods are very similar except the Minsaf. My sister and her daughters would love to make a trip to Jordan one day hopefully and meet all the relatives and of course eat there. They are waiting for a deal with a travel agency.

  10. YUM! I’ll be in Jordan in September and I’ll have to make sure I pack my eating pants. Everything looks delicious, especially the Fatet Djaj – the texture sounds so different to anything I’ve had before.
    Thanks for the great tips, I’ll have to try to eat it all!
    Laura

    • Definitely do! There’s not a ton of variety in Arabic/Jordanian food as most meals play out the same way, but there are several speciality dishes worth seeking out. Happy eating :)

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