Jordan is a country filled with delicious Middle Eastern food. Any trip to Jordan is bound to include delicious culinary experiences, from the best falafel you can imagine, to fresh ingredients bursting with flavour and delicious sweet treats.
If you’re wondering what kind of food is there to eat in Jordan – here’s a quick guide to give you an idea of what you can expect to eat in Jordan during your travels, along with the dishes you can’t afford to miss out on!
Food in Jordan
Full disclosure, I am a bit of a falafel fanatic. There’s something about those little balls of chickpea goodness that I just can’t get enough of! My love for falafel meant I knew I was going to love the food in Jordan, but I’m happy to report that there’s so much delicious food on offer, and I’m sure I only scratched the gastronomical surface of Jordan’s culinary culture.
Here are a a few of my favourite things that I ate in Jordan, to give you an idea of what you can expect when travelling in Jordan, and how much you need to budget.
How much does food cost in Jordan?
The food in Jordan is reasonably priced, but it’s not as cheap as parts of South-East Asia. In touristy areas like Petra, expect to pay a higher price for food. And whatever you do, don’t eat lunch inside the gates of Petra! You will be paying extremely expensive prices, when just outside the gates are plenty of restaurants selling the exact same food for a faction of the cost.
We were in Jordan on a week-long holiday, rather than as part of a long backpacking trip, so we weren’t on a strict backpacking budget. We were also in Jordan during Ramadan, which meant we often had to choose our restaurants based on availability and so we knew we weren’t always getting the best cheapest prices. We stayed in places with breakfast included and found the portion sizes to be really satisfying, so it is definitely doable to enjoy eating in Jordan on a budget.
The baking heat of the Middle East makes sipping a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice all the more satisfying. You can order a fresh orange juice in most restaurants and it’s a great way to stay hydrated and get a dose of vitamins.
.50 – 3 Jordanian Dinar (€.60-3.65 / $.70-4.25)
Breakfast food in Jordan
Breakfast in Jordan consists of a buffet style mix of stuff like, boiled eggs, Labneh (strained yoghurt), flatbread, hummus, sweet cakes and falafel, of course! The above photo is my half eaten breakfast in Amman.
We stayed in cheap hotels on our trip and were sure to check if breakfast was included. If you stay in a more expensive hotel, you can expect a bigger variety for breakfast, with some western breakfast food too. If you are eating out for breakfast, you can pick up an egg roll or mezze style food for cheap.
Falafel in Jordan!
My love for falafel runs deep, and so I was extremely excited to sample Jordan’s falafel offerings. Falafel are fried balls of ground chickpeas and spices and they are delicious! They say the world’s best falafel can be found in Jordan, and Amman is home to a number of highly rated falafel joints.
It isn’t just the falafel itself that I love, its that perfect combination of flatbread, salad, hummus that falafel is eaten with that makes me drool. You can get a serving of falafel with salad and bread for as little as 1 JD, but expect to pay more in more touristy areas. For example, a falafel sandwich in Red Cave restaurant in Wadi Musa, outside Petra cost 3 JD.
Light, fragrant and refreshing – tabbouleh is delicious. Made with chopped tomatoes, parsley, mint, onion and bulgur, seasoned with olive oil and salt. The perfect food to eat in the baking heat. Tabbouleh often comes with flatbread, and cost me 3JD in Wadi Musa, but it can be found for cheaper in less touristy restaurants. In al Quds in downtown Amman, a serving is 1.25 JD.
Another popular light salad is fattoush. It’s chopped vegetables, including cucumber, radish, green onions, pepper, lettuce, parsley seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil. It’s served with torn up toasted flatbread.
My love for hummus almost matches my falafel devotion. And hummus in Jordan is absolutely amazing. It comes in generous portions, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of spice.
Hummus in Jordan comes in a big bowl and costs between 1-2 JD in most restaurants.
Shawerma is a tasty dish of meat wrapped in flatbread. Marinated chicken or other meat is cooked on a vertical spit and served in a warm flatbread with salad and sauce inside.
Sometimes it’s served in shrak bread (really thin bread) which is so tasty. Pictured below is the chicken shawerma from Books @ Cafe which was pretty expensive, costing 7.5o Jordanian Dinar ($10.50 / €9.10) You can find a delicious shawerma from as little as 1 dinar in Jordan.
Our first night in Amman, Sean was feeling sick so I went in search of something easy to grab to ease my hunger. Clearly, I was hunting for falafel! But unfortunately, nowhere seemed to be selling them, I went to a burger place, a fries place and a sandwich place, walking up and down the dark streets in search of my fix. Eventually, I had to admit defeat and found myself inside a pizza place. I ordered the vegetarian pizza cone out of curiosity, and, after a longish wait, my cone of pizza was ready. And it was good.
The cone was a thick kind of crust and inside was packed with vegetables, I’m talking big chunks of broccoli, carrot and onion surrounded in melted cheese. It was really good, and perfect as an emergency dinner. Not what I expected to be eating in Jordan, but there you go!
It cost 1.95 JD ($2.75 / €2.37)
If you’re after a more authentic Jordanian pizza, try Manakeesh, a large flatbread seasoned with olive oil and za’atar, a mix of thyme and sesame seeds. It can also come with egg and halloumi toppings.
Halloumi is what I like to call a meaty cheese! It makes for a salty and filling addition to a meal. I’ve often had it in a vegetarian breakfast in London. In Jordan, I enjoyed haloumi in colourful salads.
Halloumi salad with vegetables 5 JD
Makluba means upside-down in Arabic. It consists of rice, chicken, vegetables and spice cooked in a pot. When it’s done, the pot is turned upside down onto a plate.
Cost around 7-12 JD and often to share
Sweet Treats in Jordan
Jordan has some amazing cakes and sweet treats. My favourite is harissa, or basbousa, a sticky sweet cake made with semolina and drizzled in rosewater syrup. It’s divine. The above was from Ratib al Mardini in downtown Amman.
Another cake not to be missed is the more coconuty version of basbousa. We were served this as a complimentary surprise after our lunch in Petra.
Baklava is another tasty sweet in Jordan. It’s made with layers of filo pastry and nuts with honey or syrup.
If you have a sweet tooth and find yourself on King Faisal Street in downtown Amman, look out for a snaking queue of people and you will find Habibah, a very popular spot to get some kanefeh.
Kanefeh is made with pastry, cheese and drizzled in sticky syrup. Habibah has been around since 1951, when two Palestinian brothers from Nabulus moved to Amman. We were in Amman during Ramadan and so we didn’t even get to sample the infamous Habibah Kanafeh because the queue was too long with hungry Ammanians waiting to treat themselves after the break of fast.
Have you tried Jordanian food before? What’s your favourite Middle Eastern dish?
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