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A History Of Amman In 10 Dishes


by Daniella Jeffrey



Welcome to Amman, the capital city of Jordan, a bustling metropolis where history and gastronomy converge. As you explore the vibrant streets and enchanting alleys, you’ll soon discover that Amman is not only a cultural treasure trove but also a food lover’s paradise. From tantalizing street food to lavish feasts fit for royalty, Amman’s cuisine is a reflection of its rich history and diverse influences.


Amman’s food scene is a tapestry of flavors and aromas, blending traditional Jordanian dishes with influences from neighboring Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. Whether you’re a culinary connoisseur or a curious traveler, you’re in for a treat as we take you on a gastronomic journey through Amman’s vibrant food culture.


In this article, we will explore ten iconic dishes that have become synonymous with Amman’s culinary identity. From mouthwatering mains to indulgent desserts, these dishes showcase the depth and complexity of Ammani cuisine. Each bite is not just a taste sensation but also a window into the city’s history, traditions, and cultural heritage.


Join us as we delve into the flavors of Amman, exploring the stories behind these delectable dishes and the establishments that have perfected their preparation. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds and embark on a culinary adventure that will leave you craving for more.


Dish 1: Mansaf

Mansaf is not just a dish; it is a symbol of Jordanian hospitality and tradition. Considered the national dish of Jordan, Mansaf holds a special place in the hearts of its people. This iconic dish consists of tender lamb cooked in a rich yogurt sauce called “jameed” and served on a bed of fragrant rice and topped with toasted almonds and pine nuts.


The origins of Mansaf can be traced back to Bedouin traditions, where it was traditionally prepared in large communal pots and served to guests as a gesture of honor and respect. Today, it is still served on special occasions and celebrations, such as weddings and Eid al-Fitr.


The key ingredient that sets Mansaf apart is jameed, a type of dried yogurt made from sheep’s milk. The jameed is rehydrated and mixed with spices to create a tangy and creamy sauce that infuses the meat with rich flavors. The lamb is slow-cooked to perfection, resulting in melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.


One of the best places to savor the authentic flavors of Mansaf is at Al Quds Restaurant, a renowned establishment in Amman. The restaurant has been serving Mansaf for generations, preserving the traditional recipe and ensuring that every bite is a taste of Jordanian heritage.


When you indulge in a plate of Mansaf, you’ll experience the true essence of Jordanian cuisine. The combination of tender lamb, aromatic rice, and creamy jameed creates a harmonious symphony of flavors that will leave you craving more. Don’t forget to eat Mansaf the traditional way, using your right hand, as a sign of respect for the culture and customs that surround this beloved dish.


Dish 2: Falafel

No culinary journey through Amman is complete without indulging in the iconic and beloved falafel. These crispy, deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas or fava beans are a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and have become a popular street food snack in Amman.


Falafel is believed to have originated in Egypt but has since spread throughout the Middle East, with each region adding its own unique twist to the recipe. In Amman, you’ll find falafel made predominantly from chickpeas, creating a light and flavorful texture. The mixture is seasoned with fragrant herbs and spices like cumin, coriander, and garlic, infusing the falafel with layers of aromatic flavors.


One of the best places to experience the mouthwatering falafel in Amman is at Hashem Restaurant. Located in the heart of downtown, this unassuming eatery has been serving delicious falafel for over 50 years. The freshly fried falafel balls are served with warm pita bread, tangy tahini sauce, and a colorful array of pickles and salads.


What sets Ammani falafel apart is its incredibly crispy exterior while maintaining a soft and moist interior. The secret lies in the perfect balance of ingredients and the skillful technique of frying to achieve the ideal texture. The falafel balls are then tucked into a warm pita bread, creating a delightful combination of crunchy and fluffy textures.


Whether you enjoy your falafel as a quick street food snack or as part of a larger meal, the flavors of Ammani falafel will transport your taste buds to new heights. Take a bite, and you’ll be greeted with a burst of freshness from the herbs, the nuttiness of the chickpeas, and the creaminess of the tahini sauce.


Falafel is not only a popular choice among locals but also a vegetarian-friendly option for visitors exploring the rich culinary landscape of Amman. So, don’t miss the opportunity to savor the perfect blend of flavors and textures that make falafel an irresistible treat.


Dish 3: Makloubeh

If you’re in search of a comforting and heartwarming dish in Amman, look no further than Makloubeh. Translating to “upside down” in Arabic, Makloubeh is a traditional Jordanian dish that is as visually stunning as it is delicious.


The star ingredient of Makloubeh is rice, which is layered with meat, such as chicken or lamb, along with an assortment of vegetables like eggplant, cauliflower, and carrots. The layers are then carefully cooked together until the flavors meld and the rice absorbs all the aromatic juices, creating a symphony of flavors in every bite.


The magic of Makloubeh lies in the process of flipping the dish upside down onto a serving platter, allowing the golden crust of rice to form on the top. This dramatic presentation adds to the allure of the dish, enticing both the eyes and the taste buds.


One of the most popular places to enjoy Makloubeh in Amman is at Reem Al Bawadi. This renowned restaurant serves up a delectable version of the dish, captivating diners with its flavorful combination of perfectly cooked rice, tender meat, and tender-crisp vegetables.


Each spoonful of Makloubeh is a delightful medley of textures and tastes. The fluffy rice is infused with the savory juices from the meat and vegetables, while the caramelized crust adds a satisfying crunch. The combination of spices used in the dish, such as cinnamon, cardamom, and turmeric, adds a unique and aromatic touch.


Makloubeh is not just a dish; it is a testament to the hospitality and generosity of Jordanian cuisine. It is often served as a centerpiece during family gatherings and special occasions, welcoming guests and filling their hearts and stomachs with warmth and happiness.


So if you’re ready to experience a truly unforgettable meal, don’t miss the opportunity to savor the layers of flavors in this traditional Jordanian delight, Makloubeh.


Dish 4: Maqluba

Prepare your taste buds for another tantalizing Jordanian dish: Maqluba. Meaning “upside down” in Arabic, Maqluba is a flavorful one-pot dish that beautifully layers aromatic rice, tender meat, and a variety of vegetables.


Similar to Makloubeh, Maqluba showcases the art of flipping the dish onto a serving platter, hence the name. The layers of rice, meat, and vegetables are carefully cooked together, allowing the flavors to meld and infuse into every bite.


The choice of meat for Maqluba can vary, with chicken, lamb, or even beef being used. The meat is typically seasoned with a medley of spices such as cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon, adding depth and complexity to the dish. Popular vegetables used in Maqluba include eggplant, cauliflower, and potatoes, which become tender and flavorful through the cooking process.


A must-visit establishment to savor Maqluba in Amman is Sufra Restaurant. This popular eatery offers an authentic and delicious rendition of this traditional dish. The layers of fragrant rice, succulent meat, and perfectly cooked vegetables create a symphony of textures and flavors that will leave you craving for more.


The beauty of Maqluba lies in its simplicity and the communal experience it brings. It is often prepared for family gatherings and special occasions, where loved ones come together to enjoy a hearty and satisfying meal. Each portion served is a generous helping of comfort and warmth.


When indulging in Maqluba, be sure to appreciate the aroma that wafts from the dish, inviting you to discover the perfectly balanced combination of flavors. The combination of savory meat, fragrant rice, and tender vegetables is a testament to the culinary heritage of Amman and the rich traditions it represents.


So, if you’re seeking an exceptional dining experience in Amman, don’t miss the opportunity to savor the magic of Maqluba, where every bite is a delightful surprise!


Dish 5: Knafeh

Prepare to satisfy your sweet tooth with the delectable delight known as Knafeh. This beloved dessert holds a special place in Ammani cuisine and is a must-try for any food lover.


Knafeh is made from a base of shredded phyllo dough, layered with a rich and creamy filling of sweet, melted cheese. The dessert is then adorned with a generous drizzle of orange blossom syrup and sprinkled with crushed pistachios for added texture and flavor.


One of the most popular places to savor Knafeh in Amman is Habiba Sweets. This iconic bakery has been perfecting the art of creating this irresistible treat for decades, drawing in locals and tourists alike with its mouthwatering creations.


The true beauty of Knafeh lies in its contrasting textures and flavors. The crispiness of the phyllo dough balances perfectly with the silky smoothness of the melted cheese, while the sweetness of the syrup adds a touch of floral freshness. The addition of crushed pistachios adds a delightful crunch and earthy flavor.


Traditionally served warm, Knafeh is best enjoyed fresh out of the oven when the cheese is gooey and the pastry is still crispy. It is often consumed as a dessert or enjoyed with a cup of Turkish coffee for an indulgent afternoon treat.


While Knafeh can be found in various Middle Eastern countries, the Ammani version stands out with its unique combination of flavors and the artistry with which it is prepared. Each bite of this sweet delicacy is like a symphony for the taste buds, leaving a lasting impression.


As you explore the bustling streets of Amman, be sure to save room for Knafeh and experience the pure joy it brings. Indulge in this sweet delight to truly appreciate the craftsmanship and passion that goes into creating this iconic Ammani dessert.


Dish 6: Shaybaniyyeh

Embrace the flavors of the Levant with a lesser-known yet incredibly delicious Jordanian dish called Shaybaniyyeh. This traditional comfort food is a true hidden gem in Amman’s culinary scene.


Shaybaniyyeh is a hearty stew that combines tender pieces of lamb or beef with a medley of vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions. The key to this dish lies in the slow cooking process, allowing the flavors to meld together, creating a rich and aromatic broth.


What sets Shaybaniyyeh apart is the addition of a secret ingredient – dried limes. These small, dried limes provide a unique tanginess to the stew, elevating the overall flavor profile. The combination of tender meat, fragrant spices, and tangy citrus creates a harmonious balance that is truly delightful.


One of the best places to savor Shaybaniyyeh in Amman is at Al Quds Restaurant. This renowned eatery is known for its authentic and flavorful rendition of this traditional Jordanian dish. Each spoonful of the stew transports you to the heart of Amman’s culinary heritage.


Shaybaniyyeh is a dish that warms both the body and the soul. It is often enjoyed during the cool autumn and winter months, providing comfort and nourishment to locals and visitors alike. Whether it’s a family gathering or a cozy dinner with friends, Shaybaniyyeh is guaranteed to please.


When served, Shaybaniyyeh is typically accompanied by fresh bread, allowing you to soak up the rich broth and savor every last drop of flavor. It is a dish that invites you to slow down, indulge, and appreciate the simple pleasures of a hearty and flavorful meal.


So, if you’re looking to discover a hidden gem in the culinary landscape of Amman, don’t miss the opportunity to savor the unique flavors of Shaybaniyyeh. Let its warmth and richness envelop you, leaving you with a deep appreciation for the depth and diversity of Jordanian cuisine.


Dish 7: Musakhan

Prepare your taste buds for an explosion of flavors with Musakhan, a beloved Palestinian-Jordanian dish that has made its mark on Amman’s culinary scene. This traditional dish is a celebration of fragrant spices, tender chicken, and the warmth of freshly baked bread.


Musakhan starts with a base of sumac-infused olive oil, which is then spread generously over a round of traditional taboon bread. The bread is topped with succulent pieces of roasted chicken, caramelized onions, and a sprinkle of fragrant sumac and toasted pine nuts.


The dish is then baked, allowing the flavors to meld together and the bread to absorb all the savory juices. The result is a mouthwatering combination of tender chicken, tangy sumac, and sweet caramelized onions, perfectly complemented by the crunch of the toasted pine nuts.


One of the best places to experience the rich flavors of Musakhan in Amman is at Hashem Restaurant. This iconic eatery takes pride in serving a delicious and authentic rendition of this traditional dish, captivating diners with its bold and vibrant flavors.


Musakhan is not just a meal; it is a cultural experience. It is often enjoyed during festive occasions and family gatherings, bringing loved ones together to share in the joy of good food and good company. The communal aspect of Musakhan reflects the deep-rooted hospitality and generosity of Jordanian culture.


When you take your first bite of Musakhan, you’ll be greeted with a burst of flavors that dance on your palate. From the tangy sumac to the tender chicken, each component comes together harmoniously, creating a symphony of tastes that is truly unforgettable.


So, if you’re looking to delve into the heart of Jordanian cuisine, don’t miss the opportunity to savor Musakhan. Let the flavors transport you to a land of warmth and hospitality, where every bite is a celebration of tradition and culinary artistry.


Dish 8: Warak Enab

Delight your taste buds with the flavors of Warak Enab, a traditional Jordanian dish that showcases the beauty of stuffed vine leaves. This beloved dish is a true culinary gem, bursting with flavors and textures that will leave you wanting more.


Warak Enab, which translates to “grape leaves” in Arabic, consists of tender vine leaves filled with a savory mixture of rice, herbs, and spices. The filling is typically made with a combination of rice, minced meat, tomatoes, parsley, and mint. The grape leaves are then rolled into bite-sized parcels and gently simmered until tender.


One of the best places to savor Warak Enab in Amman is at Shepherd Restaurant. This renowned establishment is known for its authentic and flavorful rendition of this traditional dish, enticing diners with its perfectly cooked vine leaves and aromatic flavors.


As you take your first bite of Warak Enab, you’ll be greeted with a burst of flavors. The tender vine leaves envelop the savory filling, creating a delightful combination of textures. The aromatic herbs and spices infuse each bite with a fragrant and savory essence, making it a true pleasure for the taste buds.


Warak Enab is often enjoyed as an appetizer or part of a larger meal, accompanied by traditional Jordanian dips such as hummus and tzatziki. It is a dish that reflects the simplicity and elegance of Jordanian cuisine, showcasing the beauty of fresh ingredients and skillful preparation.


This dish also holds cultural significance, as it is often enjoyed during festive occasions and family gatherings. It symbolizes togetherness and the joy that comes from sharing a meal with loved ones.


So, if you’re looking to explore the culinary traditions of Amman, don’t miss the opportunity to savor the delightful flavors of Warak Enab. Let each bite transport you to a world of savory goodness, where the simple pleasures of food bring people together.


Dish 9: Hummus

No exploration of Amman’s culinary landscape would be complete without indulging in the creamy delight of hummus. This beloved Middle Eastern dip has gained widespread popularity worldwide and is a staple in Jordanian cuisine.


Hummus is made from a blend of cooked chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. The ingredients are combined until smooth and creamy, resulting in a velvety texture and a rich, nutty flavor.


In Amman, hummus is more than just a dip; it is a cultural icon. Locals take great pride in their hummus, and you’ll find numerous establishments specializing in this delectable dish. One such place is Hashem Restaurant, where you can savor the true flavors of authentic Jordanian hummus.


Enjoyed as a mezze or appetizer, hummus is typically accompanied by freshly baked bread, such as pita, and an array of toppings such as olive oil, sumac, and za’atar spice blend. Each bite of hummus is a delight, as the creamy texture and rich flavors take center stage.


What sets Ammani hummus apart is the emphasis on simplicity and quality ingredients. From the perfectly cooked chickpeas to the use of locally sourced olive oil, every element is carefully chosen to create a harmonious flavor profile that is unique to Jordanian hummus.


Not only is hummus delicious, but it is also a nutritious choice. Packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats, it is a versatile and wholesome addition to any meal. Whether enjoyed as a dip, spread, or a component of a larger dish, hummus offers a burst of flavor and a delightful creaminess.


So, when in Amman, be sure to experience the delight of authentic Jordanian hummus. Let the creamy goodness and aromatic flavors transport you to a world of culinary bliss, where each bite is a true celebration of Middle Eastern cuisine.


Dish 10: Mutabbaq

Get ready to experience a delightful indulgence with Mutabbaq, a beloved Jordanian street food that will tantalize your taste buds. Mutabbaq, which means “folded” in Arabic, is a savory pastry that is filled with a variety of delicious ingredients.


The thin, flaky dough of Mutabbaq is stuffed with a flavorful mixture of ingredients such as spiced minced meat, onions, herbs, and sometimes cheese or vegetables. The pastry is then folded and sealed before being fried to golden perfection.


One of the best places to enjoy the mouthwatering Mutabbaq in Amman is at Habibah Sweets. This renowned bakery offers a wide range of freshly made Mutabbaq varieties to satisfy every craving.


The beauty of Mutabbaq lies in its versatility and the creativity of its fillings. From traditional options like minced meat or cheese to more adventurous combinations like spinach and feta cheese, each bite offers a burst of delicious flavors.


As you take your first bite of Mutabbaq, you’ll be greeted with the satisfying crunch of the flaky pastry, followed by the harmonious medley of flavors from the savory filling. The combination of textures and the depth of flavors create a perfect balance that will keep you wanting more.


Whether enjoyed as a quick snack on the go or as part of a larger meal, Mutabbaq is a popular choice among locals and visitors alike. Its portability and irresistible taste make it a favorite street food option throughout Amman.


So, make sure to seek out a local bakery or street vendor and treat yourself to the delightful experience of savoring a hot and fresh Mutabbaq. Let each bite transport you to a world of deliciousness, where the flavors and aromas of this beloved Jordanian street food will leave a lasting impression.



Amman, the capital city of Jordan, is a haven for food lovers and travelers seeking to explore the vibrant culinary traditions of the Middle East. From traditional dishes like Mansaf and Makloubeh to street food delights like falafel and Mutabbaq, Amman offers a diverse and captivating food scene that reflects the rich history and cultural heritage of the region.


Through this gastronomic journey, we have discovered the unique flavors, techniques, and stories behind ten iconic dishes that have become synonymous with Amman’s culinary identity. Each dish offers a tantalizing blend of flavors, textures, and aromas, highlighting the passion and craftsmanship that goes into their creation.


From the warm and hearty stews like Shaybaniyyeh and Musakhan to the refreshing and tangy flavors of hummus and Warak Enab, every dish tells a story and invites you to indulge in a cultural experience like no other.


With its bustling streets and enchanting alleyways, Amman is not only a feast for the senses but also a melting pot of different culinary influences. Whether you’re strolling through the vibrant markets, dining in a local eatery, or enjoying street food from a vendor, you’ll be immersed in a world of flavors that ignite your taste buds and leave a lasting impression.


Amman’s food culture is a testament to the city’s rich history and the warm hospitality of its people. It is a place where tradition meets innovation, and where ancient recipes are preserved and celebrated in modern times.


So, as you navigate the winding streets of Amman, be sure to immerse yourself in the culinary delights it has to offer. From savory to sweet, from street food to fine dining, embrace the flavors, immerse yourself in the culture, and let the world of Amman’s food travel captivate your senses.