Flavorful, fresh and familiar,Jordanian food is traditional with a long and rich history that has evolved over time. Regardless of change within the region, Jordanian cuisine has always been a constant staple and a rooted part of Jordanian culture. Time-honored recipes, techniques, and styles of cooking are used and many dishes use local or regional ingredients. Items such as olives (olive oil), fresh herbs, spices, lemons, fresh vegetables including tomatoes, onions as well as chickpeas are often incorporated into the dishes as these are easy to access in the region. Fresh fruit including pomegranate, figs, and watermelon are also regional and often included in Jordanian dishes.
With many influences and similarities to other food in the region such as Syria and Palestine, Jordanian food is considered Levantine or Eastern Mediterranean. As Jordanianians are well-known for their warmth and hospitality, it is easy to see how food is an integral part of the community. Eating together and sharing a meal is an essential part of hospitality and generosity. It also serves to bring the community together. It is not uncommon to be invited to a Jordanian household for dinner and there is no exception to bring a dish or gift, rather attend the meal and enjoy the company and the food. This is the heart of Jordanian hospitality and can be felt all over the country from locals as well as from restaurants and cafes.
Holidays and celebrations in Jordan are also an exceptional time to enjoy the warmth and generosity of Jordanian cuisine. The concept of sharing is deeply ingrained in the culture, and as such often times large dishes are served in platters which brings the community together to celebrate during holidays or special events.
Jordanian food often centers around the “mezze” style of dining meaning that there are often small dishes filled with salads, vegetables, and dips that are served with bread and eaten prior to the main course. Mezze dining is a dominant component of eating in Jordan and carries the same concept of sharing and community. Beyond this, the Jordanian main dishes often include meat (lamb, chicken, beef), rice, cheese, lentils, beans, and fresh vegetables, herbs and spices. Jordanian desserts usually consist of pastries, fresh fruit, and nuts and is served with sweet mint or sage tea or cardamom-spiced coffee. Many of these dishes, from the starters to the dessert take time to prepare and cook.
While traveling in Jordan, tasting the food is one of the best ways to learn about the culture, history, and people in the region. A great deal can be learned or experience over a shared meal, which will lead to a deeper understanding and connection to the Jordanian people while traveling in the region. From the modern cafes in Amman to the Bedouin tents in Wadi Rum, one concept is inherently embedded in the food, and that is – kindness. Jordanian cuisine is centered around the significance of sharing, community, and hospitality.