Ever wondered what Jordanian Mezze or Mezze dining in Jordan is? The origin of “mezze” is rooted in a Persian word meaning “to taste”. This concept can be understood as the mezze consists of many small dishes that serve as an appetizer or small meal before the main dish is served. This is a similar concept to “tapas” which are served in Spain, as many small dishes are shared. Mezze dishes in Jordan can vary but often include a variety of salads, olives, dips, and bread and can be served hot or cold. Here is a guide to some of the Jordianian food that are often served in a Jordanian Mezze:
A staple in Levantine cuisine, and seen all over the Middle East, although it is simple in its ingredients, hummus can vary from region to region. Consisting of chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), olive oil, lemon, and garlic hummus can be spiced differently and served with various toppings ranging from yogourt, chickpeas, and beans to meat. Jordanian hummus is served both hot and cold and is often eaten for breakfast or street food lunch as well as part of a mezze.
A simple dish which has a long history in Jordanian culture, and is sometimes referred to as “dish of the poor” it is almost always part of a mezze or can be eaten on its own oftentimes for breakfast. Ful Maddamis is made from crushed fava beans that are served with olive oil and spices. Often topped with paprika or cumin, this dish can also be served with fresh herbs, tomatoes, chopped onion or a hard-boiled egg.
Not to be confused with Babaghanoush, Moutabel also consists of eggplant which can be grilled or sometimes fried. The eggplant is then prepared into a dip using olive oil and spices and often yogurt is a component of the dip. Sometimes Moutabel is served with pomegranate seeds on top or other spices such as za’atar.
Creamy and delicious, Labaneh is a soft, spreadable cheese that is made from strained yogurt. Sour and tangy and often topped with olive oil and spices, it pairs well with many of the other dips and salads in the mezze. Labaneh can come in a variety of ways and can range in thickness which changes the flavor slightly. Regardless of its form, this soft cheese is sure to impress.
Another eggplant dish, different than Moutabel but prepared similarly. Babaghanoush can also vary from region to region but generally consists of grilled eggplant that is often burned to create a smoky taste. The char adds the depth and smoky flavor that is often mixed with garlic, sometimes tahini and other spices or tomatoes and onions.
Like most mezze dishes, there are a variety of ways to prepare Kubbeh (also known as kibbeh). The dish is prepared from bulgar mixed with a type of meat – usually lamb or beef, as well as goat meat, herbs and spices that is shaped into a patty or ball (it slightly resembles an American football). The covered meat “balls” are fried and can also sometimes be served on their own or in a broth. They are savory and delicious, be sure to sample from a variety of places as the type of meat and spices can influence the overall flavor.
Deep fried balls made from chickpeas and spices, like kubbeh, falafel can taste different all over the world. The type of chickpeas and spices that are used will influence the flavor of falafel. Falafel can be found all throughout Jordan and is often considered street food as well as a part of mezze dining.
Dolma (Warak Enab)
Sometimes stuffed just with rice, other times with rice and meat, dolmas are grape leaves that are filled, rolled and then cooked. The leaves are taken from the grapevine and once they are stuffed they are either steamed or boiled until the filling is cooked. Dolmas can be served hot or cold in the mezze and can vary in size as well.
A crunchy and flavorful salad made from fried pieces of bread (pita or flatbread) that is mixed into fresh vegetables and herbs. Usually, with tomatoes and radishes along with parsley and other greens, fatoush salad is bright and delicious. In fact, it is often a way that stale pita is rejuvenated and incorporated into food rather than discarding it.
A Levantine staple, tabouleh is a finely chopped salad that consists of parsley, mint, onions tomatoes and bulgar. The salad is seasoned lightly with salt and pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. This is a fresh salad and sometimes it can be filled with more herbs or more bulgar, the ratios can fluctuate leading doing a different consistency that is always tasty regardless.
Another eggplant dish that differs from Moutabel and babaghanoush, Makdous is made from oil-cured eggplants. These (usually smaller) eggplants are then stuffed with a variety of different options sometimes with nuts (walnuts) or peppers and often with garlic and spices. These stuffed preserved eggplants mezze are unique and delicious and seen as a part of the Levantine cuisine.
A dish consisting of rice, lentils, and onions, mujadara is relatively simple and tasty. Depending on the manner it is prepared, it can range from the garlic to the spices. Often topped with fresh herbs or sometimes nuts, or onions, mujaddara will definitely be a part of the Jordanian mezze.
Always a part of Jordanian mezze dining, pickled vegetables will appear on the table. Vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, radishes, and cauliflower are pickled and served along with the other dishes. These add an element of saltiness and tanginess to bring out other flavors in the mezze.
Olive trees are a part of Jordanian heritage and culture and grow within the region making both olives and olive oil a major part of Jordanian cuisine. Many different olive varieties are available and are often served as part of the mezze in Jordan.
A popular bread seen all over Jordan, it is a flatbread that can be served in a variety of ways with different toppings ranging from fresh herbs such as za’atar or thyme, cheese or ground meat. Sometimes the flatbread can be served open or folded and is eaten for breakfast, lunch or snacks and as part of the Jordanian mezze.