‘Jordan? Really!’ went my pals on my holiday plans, they thought the vegetarian in me was being too ambitious to make another gourmet trip out of a vacation, the former is always the agenda to say the truth. A quick web search yielded nothing much but for the now glocal Falafel ,Hummus and Shawarma and a host of non-vegetarian items
including Mansaf their national dish, a rice and meat preparation in lines of our Yakhni Pulao. I started with a clean slate and enjoyed my time in the cosmopolitan Amman, the historic Petra, the rugged sands of Wadi rum, and the pristine waters of Aqaba and the therapeutic aqua of the Dead Sea. With so much globalization and the likes of Uncle McDonald to the rescue vegetarians are at ease in Jordan but here are some local delicacies that would allow adding the gourmet angle to your trip
A pretty looking pot containing mashed fava beans seasoned with cumin, olive oil, onion, garlic, lemon and seasoning finds place in most hotel breakfasts and alongside are kept toppings for people to enhance the dish as per their tastes. Sumac one indigenous crimson coloured spice that adds the tang stands apart in the condiments.
A dip you will find at the salad section, a mix of smoked aubergines pureed with Tahini (sesame paste) lemon juice and olive oil. Moutabal is also used as spread in Falafel wraps; do ensure that as your street side vendor smears some along with hummus for that smoky nuance! I loved it over multiple lunches.
A breakfast time preparation of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and chilli is often cooked with eggs or meat and had with bread.
Flatbread baked with Zatar a local spice mix accompanies Ful Medames or is had with a healthy spread of cream cheese.
A brined semi hard cheese often made of goat and sheep milk is an inherent part of the Jordanian diet. It can be grilled but is mostly eaten fresh with Khubz or Pita and always finds place in the mezze platter comprising dips, bread and fresh vegetable batons.
All fingers point to Habibah a sweet shop in Amman for this delicacy. A layered dessert with a base or filling of stringy cheese similar to a mozzarella and the top layers a crisp semolina pastry or vermicelli all soaked in rose scented sugar syrup.
It like the popular Baklava, phyllo pastry stuffed with a soft cheese or custard with a healthy soak of sugar syrup.
Semolina based dessert flavoured with rose water and sometimes enhanced with coconut are spreadout on huge and cut in cakes. It is readily available in most sweet shops in Amman and other cities. You will find a more premium nut topped version too.
Perhaps has the same roots as our Halwa, this one is made from Tahini and is shaped into one inch cubes. Halaweh is hard but crumbly and is on similar lines of Gajak in taste albeit much smoother and version in terms of texture. A good winter time dessert!
A blancmange like creamy pudding is popular in Middle Eastern cuisines. It is milk based and thickened with rice flour and flavoured with rose water or vanilla or orange etc and embellished with nuts. It is served cold and is light and refreshing.
Jordanian’s love their tea and coffee, Turkish coffee a muddy black coffee flavoured with cardamom is commonplace and they love their mint or sage tea flavoured with spices and sweetened with sugar. You will love the hot cuppa in the winters especially after all the food.