I recently shared some Jordanian food recipes over on the World Nomads blog. When I was in Jordan last year, I took a cookery course as part of my On The Go tours (see why I recommend On The Go Tours here). Food is a big part of why I travel and with Middle Eastern cuisine being one of my favorites, it’s hard to resist sharing a few of my favorite recipes.
One of my favorite parts of Middle Eastern cuisine is the mezze—small appetizers that essentially make up an entire meal unto themselves. Falafel, fatoosh (a cucumber & tomato salad), yoghurt, pita bread and fresh vegetables are typical of basic Jordan mezze options. Hummus is also one of those delicious options in the Middle East.
Though I traveled through Egypt, Israel and Jordan looking for the best falafel, what I actually found was the world’s best hummus. And it was in almost every single restaurant in the Mid East. What I learned was their secret ingredient—za’atar spice which is usually sprinkled on top of hummus with olive oil. If you haven’t had za’atar before, I highly recommend it! It’s a completely versatile spice. It’s just a mixture of olive oil, sumac, salt & sesame and can be used on just about anything. In Jordan, it’s popular to add it to your hummus and other mezze. But it’s also added on top of a few baked desserts to give a bit of flavor.
Anyways…some mezze recipes!
This dish is as much fun to say as it is to eat. Cooking it yourself is another matter. It’s messy and kind of gross-looking, but that’s half the fun. What is it? Roasted eggplant (aubergine) all mushed up into a nice paste which you can then mix with your other mezzo or dip your bread in. Yumm!
- 1 kg eggplants
- 1 hot green pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon mint
- 2 tabelspoons lemon juice
- 1 large tomato
- 1 medium onion
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Roast the eggplants on a baking dish in medium heat for approximately one hour, until the skin is charred and begins to split.
- When eggplants are cool enough to handle, break open and scoop out the pulp.
- Mash the pulp with a fork to smooth it into a puree. Add olive oil & lemon juice.
- Chop tomato, pepper and onion very finely. Add them to the eggplant puree and stir.
- Crush the garlic in a pestle with salt. Stir into juice and olive oil.
- Add liquid to vegetables and mix together well. Stir in mint.
- Serve in a shallow bowl with garnish (tomatoes or parsley)
Tabbouleh, another mezze dish, is essentially a refreshing mix of vegetables and spice. I say refreshing because the heavy amount of mint and parsley really freshens up your breath. Add tabbouleh to a falafel sandwich or just pick at it while watching a football match. It works with just about anything. One popular adaptation of the recipe is to mix it with quinoa or another grain to make a more hearty salad.
- ½ kg tomatoes
- 3 ¾ cups of finely chopped parsley
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup lemon joice
- 1 cup burghul (also called bulgur…it’s a cereal)
- 2 large onions
- 3 ¾ cups finely chopped mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Remove any stones from the burghul. Wash & drain it well by squeezing it with your hands.
- Chop tomatoes very fine and sprinkle with salt.
- Chop onions very fine and add to tomatoes.
- Add parsley and mint leaves.
- Stir together with the burghul.
- Add lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well.
- Serve on a bed of lettuce or cabbage leaves.
If you add a spicy chili sauce to your falafel or other meals, having a cucumber & yoghurt salad can be helpful for reducing the spice level. It’ll cool it down and add a refreshing flavor to the meal. During the summer months when the temperatures get pretty high in Jordan (especially in the desert valleys of the south), there’s nothing like a yoghurt salad to keep you cool.
- ½ kg cucumber
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 1 kg yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon salt.
- Dice the cucumbers
- Crush the garlic with salt & mint; stir into yoghurt.
- Add cucumbers and serve with mint garnish.