Many people around the world know of traditional Middle Eastern dishes such as hummus and kebabs. But there is so much more Jordanian food to offer! Jordan is known for its versatile dishes with various meats, dips, desserts, and bread. With a wide variety of dishes, you are bound to find a new favorite dish from Jordan. Try out a few Jordanian recipes at home or stop at an authentic Jordanian restaurant for an unforgettable experience.
When making a list of 10 must-try exotic dishes from Jordan, Mansaf must always be on the top of the list. Mansaf is the country’s national dish, and it is made with rice, lamb, nuts, and jameed (a dried goat yogurt). The rice is fragrant, flavorful, and fluffy, and it is always topped with the most tender pieces of lamb. Like many Middle Eastern dishes, mansaf is traditionally eaten by scooping it into your mouth using your thumb, index, and middle finger. If you visit Jordan, mansaf is simply the dish you cannot leave without trying.
Foul is one of Jordan’s oldest and most famous dishes. The main ingredient is fava beans, and it is mashed into a creamy, bean-flavored dip. It is a popular side dish that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and it tends to be served with warm and fluffy pita bread. Although each Middle Eastern country makes foul a little bit differently, foul generally has some combination of fava beans, garlic, lemon, and olive oil.
After trying various main entrees, it’s finally time for dessert! Knafeh is a popular dessert with thin strands of filo pastry and a sweet and stringy akkawi cheese filling. The noodle-like dough is crispy with a lightly toasted flavor and comes together nicely with the gooey, salty cheese. There are two main versions of knafeh, each with slightly different dough. For instance, na’ameh is smooth and has a semolina dough, while khishneh has a crispy top with vermicelli-like dough. All Knafeh is served with a sweet syrup that binds the entire dessert with slight hints of rose.
Arabic sweets are a delightful treat any food lover must try. Mammoul is a buttery holiday cookie that is eaten in Jordan and other countries in the Middle East. Many families will make hundreds of these intricate cookies during Easter to share with friends and family. It is made with semolina flour, clarified butter, and seasonings. The most traditional fillings for mammoul include walnut, pistachio, and dates. Although these cookies can be time-consuming to make, they are so delicious that you won’t regret it! You can also save yourself some time and buy a dozen at a Middle Eastern bakery.
Freekeh is a grain that comes from durum wheat, and it is similar to rice, barley, and couscous. Freekeh has plenty of nutrients, and it is even considered a superfood. It is nutty and smoky, which makes it excellent in many Middle Eastern dishes. Some dishes with freekeh are vegetarian, while others are paired with meat such as chicken or lamb. It is also almost always served with a tart yogurt sauce.
Halloumi cheese is a staple in Jordan, and it is typically served for breakfast or as a side dish. It can be eaten with fluffy pita bread and some other dips such as hummus, moutabel, and muhammara. Some people even boil halloumi cheese in water before adding it to their breakfast spread. Halloumi cheese is made with goat or sheep milk, and it gives it a unique flavor. The cheese is chewy and firm and does not melt since it has a high melting point. This makes it excellent for grilling and frying. Many restaurants add grilled halloumi cheese to salads
Tired of boring old spinach and kale? Mulukhiyah is a vegetable that is commonly known as the jute mallow. These jute mallow leaves are served as a main dish, and it is typically made into a soup or stew. The leaves have almost a slimy texture like okra, and they are cooked with chicken for flavor and served with rice. Once the dish is plated, lots of lemon juice is squeezed over the top to finish it off.
Muqlubah, which translates to upside-down, is an Arabic rice dish with chicken or lamb. The dish is traditionally served in Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, and Syria. It is essentially a pot of rice, meat, and vegetables. Once the pot has finished cooking, it is flipped onto a plate for a beautifully delicious stack of food. Muqlubah has plenty of Arab spices that make this dish uniquely flavorful.
When deciding what Middle Eastern desserts to try, Qatayef should definitely always be on your list. This dessert is typically eaten during Ramadan. It consists of a fluffy Middle Eastern pancake stuffed with a cheese-flavored cream and nuts. The pancake is then deep-fried until golden and topped with sticky, fragrant syrup. When eaten fresh, Qatayef has a warm and crispy outside with a soft and fluffy inside.
Al rashouf is a traditional stew from Jordan that is made with lentils, fried onions, yogurt, and jameed, which is hard, dried yogurt made from goat or ewe milk. Al rashouf is typically served with fresh and pickled vegetables on the side. This hearty stew warms the soul during cold winters and is popular in Northern Jordan, where winters are particularly cold.
All these 10 middle eastern dishes are delicacies that must be enjoyed.
Middle eastern food is often filled with a lot of complex flavors. These flavors work well together to produce extremely delicious food. So, the next time you get a chance to visit the Middle East or you are probably on a vacation to the Middle East, don’t forget to try these exotic dishes. I’m sure you will not regret it. As for the others, you can always check out Ranas Recipes for your quick dose of middle eastern flavors.
Hi, I’m Rana and I blog at ranasrecipe.com. My passion for food began very early in my life. And after managing a cafe, a granola business and helping other food businesses scale up, I found my true calling in creating wonderful recipes so that everyone can enjoy cooking as much as I do! Don’t forget to follow me on my social channels- instagram and pinterest.