Foods from Jordan – Part 2 of 2

This is a Hipmunk post from Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads

On Friday I posted about some of my favourite foods from Jordan, and here is part 2 to the series. There are enough dishes to make this a 10-part series but I’ve stuck to the ones I truly loved and couldn’t get enough of during my travels there. Let’s continue with the noms!
6) Zerb: Zerb is a crazy, crazy dish. It’s baked in a hole in the ground that has been sealed up with clay or mud, and when the clay dries up, the dish is ready. It’s rich – so incredibly rich – with roasted lamb or chicken, the fat dripping down from the meat onto the rice. It’s served with the usual dishes (many of the dips from Part 1), but it’s incredibly filling and explosively tasty. Traditionally a bedouin dish, I tried it in the desert near Ma’in.
Here is the rack (cooked), the pit it’s cooked in and the final product:

7) Foul: Traditionally a dish from the countryside, foul is a essentially a filling breakfast porridge with spices. The base is made from a paste of fava beans and it’s topped with sumac, za’atar, lemon juice, parsley and more. Hearty morning dish to get you started for your day, and not bad to look at either.

8) Knafe: I can’t forget about dessert! Knafe is a rich cheese dessert topped with baked phylo dough and draped in honey and topped with pistachio pieces. It’s crispy and goopy all at once, and it’s so incredibly delicious that you keep eating even though your stomach is telling you to stop.
Me (right) and my friend Shannon (left) getting our knafe on at Habiba in Amman:
9) Mansaf: A very traditional (and popular) dish, mansaf is usually made with chunks of lamb braised in sauce of fermented, dried yoghurt (called jameed) and served over spiced rice topped with pine nuts. It’s a very hearty dish (this is a theme here) and each mouthful is a truly overwhelming mixture of tastes – the soft, braised lamb, the crunchy pine nuts, the sourness of the yoghurt. It takes quite some time to prepare but the end result is well worth it. Eaten with flatbreads, of course.

10) Mint Lime Juice: It was a toss-up between coffee (often scented with cardamom) or this shake, but I chose the mint because it was a singular theme throughout the trip. After a long day of traipsing through a given town, a mint lime juice was what capped off the travels. Fresh mint is used in a variety of dishes in Jordan and it’s extremely accessible (and affordable) compared to what it costs in my hometown of Montreal. As a result, they don’t skimp on the mint, and the juices are emerald green and extremely satisfying. 
Mint juice in front of Petra’s The Monastery after climbing the 800+ steps to get there: 

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Foods from Jordan – Part 1 of 2

This is a Hipmunk post from Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads

After several years of eating my way through Asia, I went to Jordan from Bangkok this year and was able to eat a whole other type of food. I’m a big fan of rice and noodles and soups but it was a wonderful shock to my tastebuds to swap out the chilli and tamarind for sumac and mint, to replace somtam salads with fatoush. I left Jordan full – very, very full. Here are some of the foods I loved along with some the photos from my trip to illustrate them:

1) Hummus: Many of us already know hummus well, and it’s become a popular snack in North America, eaten with carrots or pita. In Jordan, it is often mixed with sesame paste (tahini), giving the dip a seriously creamy texture and making it much more filling 

2) Fattoush: a crisp green salad topped with dried sumac, mixed with chopped fresh vegetables like tomato and cucumber and some baked or fried pita chips mixed in. The salad is dressed with a deliciously tart lemon juice and oil vinaigrette. Great side dish to a heavier meal.

3) Mouttabal: While many are tempted to call this dish its sister iteraration, baba ghanoush, mouttabal is roasted eggplant mixed with garlic, lots of tahini paste and some other ingredients to make a perfectly balanced dip for your meal. (In contrast, baba ghanoush is lighter, usually without the tahini) Mouttabal is extremely smoky with great lemony undertones and one of many foods I couldn’t get enough of. I posted a recipe and more photos here, if anyone wants to make it at home!

4) Maglouba: Literally meaning “upside down” dish, maglouba usually consists of spiced rice, chicken and vegetables cooked casserole-style in a pot and then flipped over on a plate once it’s done.  It’s a beautiful looking dish and a pleasure to eat.

5) Manakeesh: I first tried manakeesh back in 6th grade, when my best friend Susan’s mother made it for breakfast. The most common variety is a simple flatbread dough brushed with olive oil and topped with za’atar spice mix (I might just do a separate post on za’atar as it’s incredibly delicious and versatile) but other iterations include yoghurt and cheese (below) and ground meat. No matter the version, this is a perfect snack.

More to come on Tuesday with part 2!

Disclosure: I traveled to Jordan as a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board for Legal Nomads, but all photos and opinions presented are completely my own.

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Jordan’s Dead Sea: Salty, Muddy and Beautiful

This is a Hipmunk guest post from Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads

I’ve posted on The Hipmunk about the worlds largest salt flats in Bolivia and all the fun optical illusions that can be had during a visit, but another salty place to visit is the Dead Sea. I was recently invited by the Tourism Board of Jordan to visit the country and while I’ve started a series on food on my own site, I wanted to post some photos from the Dead Sea here.

The area, much more well known than Uyuni’s salt flats, is over eight times more salty than the ocean. At 67 km long, that’s a lot of salt. 

On the side of the water, surreal crystal formations:

And from an even closer view:

The sea is also located over 415 meters below sea level, more so than I had realized and a serious contrast to the higher altitude (over 5000m at times) in Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni.

Afternoon was, of course, spent getting extremely muddy and then waiting for the mud to solidify and crack in the sun, washing it off in the salty water by the shore. It’s a strange thing, to be in the water and washing off the mud, only to come out feeling like you’ve bathed in a giant pool of oil. 

Having seen the Dead Sea from the Israeli side over a decade ago, I watched the sun rise over the water. It was a nice symmetry to be on the Jordanian side years later and watch the sun set into the sea. 

The flat, oily nature of the water lends itself to total placidity, like a sunset over a sheet of glass:

For anyone heading to Jordan’s Dead Sea, one very important travel tip: DO NOT GET THE WATER IN YOUR EYES. Speaking from experience here, it’s not so much fun. The instinct to wipe the water out of your eyes using your hand? Also a terrible idea. 

Back to travel gadgets and smartphone apps next week. Have a great weekend!

Disclosure: I traveled to Jordan as a guest of the Tourism Board for Legal Nomads, but all photos and opinions presented are completely my own.

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