The spellbinding draw of Jordan is hard to deny. Sprawling from the Syrian border to the shores of the Red Sea, the country's colorful past is teeming with ancient tales of Roman emperors and Nabatean kings. Mystifying natural landscapes range from the wind-swept dunes of Wadi Rum to the sparkling waters of the Dead Sea, punctuated with breathtaking attractions including majestic Petra, preserved ruins, and the coastal charms of Aqaba.
But while Jordan has successfully positioned itself as a world-class adventure destination amongst the thrill-seeking set, its culinary culture is just as impressive. Don't miss these staple dishes during a visit to the small but mighty Middle Eastern escape.
We're all familiar with the traditional hummus found in grocery stores across the country–and while those are perfectly fine, fattet hummus kicks things up a notch. Like many Jordanian dishes, you'll find a similar version in neighboring countries across the Levant. The base of pulverized chickpeas remains the same, but includes toasted or fried day-old pita bread for added texture. This excellent iteration also typically involves whole pine nuts, creamy yogurt, roasted garlic, a touch of tahini and extra-virgin olive oil to bind it all together.
Celebrated as the national dish of Jordan, this hearty recipe traces its roots back to the Bedouin kitchen (the nomadic Arab peoples who have historically inhabited the region's deserts). Served as a large communal dish, the components include tender meat layered with thin pieces of flatbread and served alongside heaps of aromatic rice. The meat used is traditionally lamb, although camel (or chicken for lighter versions) is also sometimes featured. Jameed, is a tangy, dry fermented yogurt made from goat milk, is another key ingredient.
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Another dish closely woven throughout Jordanian culture is known as rashouf. Made with the same jameed used in mansaf, this comfort food is a common winter dish because it's creamy, warm and filling. With an almost stew-like consistency, it's prepared using lentils cooked with wheat and paired with sour pickled vegetables. As an added bonus, it's high in fiber and protein.
The recipe for musakhan first appeared in Palestine, and has since become a favorite throughout the region, with each country introducing their own spin on the dish. Not overly complicated, the meal features roasted chicken (cooked with onions and flavorful spices like sumac and saffron) served over baked taboon bread. It tastes like a symphony and reminds us that sometimes simple reigns supreme.
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Anyone with a sweet tooth is sure to appreciate kanafeh, a traditional Middle Eastern dessert found in bakeries across Jordan. The dessert is a flaky, buttery treat made with paper-thin strips of filo dough soaked in a sticky-sweet sugar syrup. Inside, the layers typically alternate between ingredients like salty akkawi cheese, clotted cream, nuts, and dried fruits. The golden-brown, crispy concoction is divine and puts many of its pastry counterparts to shame.
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