Jordan Food and Drink
Jordanian cuisine shares many of the characteristics of Middle Eastern cooking but the inclusion of freshly made, local yoghurt and cheese adds a twist to the menu. Aubergines, chickpeas, lentils and beans turn up in many of the dishes and rice and khoubs (flat Arabic bread) are staples. Most restaurants have a mixed menu including Arabic and European dishes. Alcohol is served in most restaurants and bars, except during the fasting month of Ramadan (non-Muslim nationals can drink alcohol only in hotels during Ramadan).
• Mezze (a selection of starters that begin almost every main meal; they include fool, a thick stew made from broad beans; hummus, mashed chickpeas with tahini or sesame paste; moutabel, smoked aubergine dip; and tabbouleh, finely chopped parsley salad).
• Mensaf (Bedouin dish of stewed lamb in a yoghurt sauce which is normally eaten with the fingertips of the right hand).
• Maglouba (chicken with spices, including cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and nutmeg).
• Kibbe (deep fried ground lamb or beef dish combined with burghul (ground, steamed wheat), onion and cinnamon).
• Baklava (assorted honey-drizzled, nut-filled filo pastries eaten for dessert).
• Kunafeh (Palestinian speciality dessert of goat’s cheese layered with pastry, served warm and drenched in syrup).
If you’re at an upmarket restaurant, order a selection of mezze to begin – one or two per person at least – and follow-up with a main course or two of kebabs, grilled chicken or similar. Food is served whenever it is ready, so don’t expect it to all come at once – and don’t expect specific courses, either: just tuck in to whatever happens to be in front of you as soon as it arrives. Smaller restaurants or cafes in out of the way places may only serve hummus and/or some kind of meat dish – but wherever you are, you generally use pockets of flat bread to scoop up your food: forks and spoons are rarely used, other than for serving. When eating without cutlery, use your right hand only (the left hand is traditionally reserved for toilet matters).
Generally, 10 to 12% service charge is added in hotels and upmarket restaurants; extra tips are discretionary.
• Arabic coffee (strong and served in small cups, it's more a tradition than a drink).
• Wine (thanks to the Christian minority, Jordan has a long tradition of wine-production).
• Araq (This local aniseed liquor is similar to Greek Ouzo; usually served mixed with water and ice).