Famous for its kebabs, mezze platter, Mansaf and a variety of desserts, Jordanian cuisine caters to every need and fancy of an average foodie – from fine diners to street food enthusiasts, from meat lovers to vegetarians and from savory bites to sweet cravings.
Due to its geographical location in the Levant, Jordan has culinary influences from North Africa, the Middle East, Persia and the Mediterranean, bringing together flavors that are new and exciting to the Indian palate.
A common misconception about Jordanian cuisine is that there is a plethora of non-vegetarian options to choose from, but only a handful of dishes for vegetarians. Contrary to this, Jordanian food relies a lot on fresh vegetables, beans, pulses and yogurt, including dishes like Fattoush (a salad with toasted Pita bread, lettuce, tomato and cucumber), Tabbouleh (green salad, with parsley as its core ingredient), Warak Enab (stuffed grape leaves), Hummus (chickpea based dip), Baba Ghanoush (roasted aborigine dip) and Falafel (mashed and fried chickpea patty).
However, one of the key highlights of Jordanian cuisine is its national dish, Mansaf, which has a distinct taste and cooking method that cannot be duplicated in other regions, owing to the native spice blend used to enhance its flavour.
The traditional way to eat Mansaf has a ritual associated with it, the highlight being where everyone should be standing and eating with their right hand only. Unique to the Jordanian culinary experience is also its own adaption of popular dishes of the region that it has effortlessly made its own and can be enjoyed throughout the region.
Preparation time: 2 hours 45 minutes
1. Wash meat and place in a tray. Cover meat with water, close the lid and place in refrigerator for 4-8 hours.
2. Melt 1/4 cup of ghee (clarified butter) in a frying pan on medium heat. Drain the meat, pat dry and place in the pan to cook for 20 minutes until it turns brownish yellow.
3. Add salt and pepper according to taste, and pour enough water to cover meat. Cook for 1 hour with a closed lid.
4. Add onion and heat uncovered for another 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, add yogurt in a saucepan and whip on medium heat until it turns liquid. Add egg white and half teaspoon salt. Boil the mixture and allow yogurt to cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
6. Add yogurt and seasonings to meat. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.
7. Melt two tablespoons of ghee in a pan. Add almonds and cook for 5 minutes. Add pine nuts and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
8. Split khubz (Arabic pita bread) open and arrange in a tray. Melt two tablespoons of butter and brush over the bread to soften. Place rice over bread, leaving a well in the center of the rice. Spoon the meat into the rice well and then spoon the butter and nuts over the meat. Garnish with parsley or chives and serve.
2 lbs lean lamb cubes
1⁄2 cup ghee (clarified butter)
Salt and pepper
4 cups yogurt
1 egg white
1⁄2 teaspoon coriander
1 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
1⁄4 teaspoon cardamom
1⁄2 cup blanched almond
1⁄2 cup pine nuts
4-6 khubz (Arabic pita bread)
3 cups rice
Chopped parsley or chives