09 Aug 10 Best foods to try in Israel and Jordan
Experience the food culture of Israel and Jordan at its best and try the best traditional cuisines.
There is this quote in the middle east that is something along the lines of :
“Even if you’re full, you can still always eat 40 more bites of food.”
There is a possibility that this is much deeper than it sounds and relates to their generosity and hospitality when it comes to food. But it’s also about eating a lot of food around a table with friends and family.
Both Jordan and Israel have different food cultures. To the outsider some of the cuisines overlap and dare I say are to some extent similar with their own flair.
Allow me to give you a little taste of both Jordan and Israel. In this blog post I’ll guide you through all the cuisines you simply have to try when you find yourself in Israel or Jordan.
All cuisines are a result of historical, sociological , agricultural and economic influences – with Israeli food culture it’s no different. With that being said Jewish traditions play an integral part in Israel cuisine. Jewish laws like the aversion of shellfish and pork and the separation of milk and meat. It’s also common to find mainly vegetables at breakfast oppose to fruit. Eggs is also one of the main sources of protein. In Israel it’s also custom to make lunch the focal meal of the day oppose to dinner.
1. Street food : ‘O’-shaped bagels, chocolate croissants and falafels.
You can easily find falafels and breads like the chocolate croissants and ‘O’-shaped bagels at each street corner as it’s a popular local fast food and snack. I do however recommend that you be a little skeptical as to where you try the local street food for hygiene purposes ( some stalls are cleaner, work with gloves, cover the food for flies and is out of direct sun).
The signature way of making a shwarma – the thin layers of meat stacked on a sword and revolving vertically or horisontally over a source of heat. Most restuarants give the option of lamb, beef ,chicken or a vegeterian option of falafels. Choice of bread to fill usually is a pita or laffa bread with mint leaves, tomatoes, cucumber, aubergine , pickled vegetables and a tahini or garlic dressing.
Personally I preferred the laffa bread (as shown in image), as it’s thinner than a pita but thicker than a wrap. ou don’t end up having to submerge the shwarma with sauce just so that it’s not dry.
Shwarmas are widely available in Jordan and Israel but the best shwarma I had was at BBQ Meat & Grill in the Jewish Quarter.
3. Fresh medjool dates
Made with ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, or some combination thereof, mixed with toasted sesame seeds, and salt, though other spices such as sumac might also be added. The texture of the bread is almost something between a soft pizza base and pita.
You can find this at the
Mehane Yehuda Food Market .
5. Holiday Cookie
Oh, how I searched for this dessert and finally found it on our last day. The method to making this cookie was the first thing I found intriguing as they take a mixture of date paste, press it into the centre of the cookie dough and then use a mould that has a cookie mould on the one end and a handle on the other. The dough is pressed into the mould and then using the handle the mould is flipped onto a surface so that the cookie comes out and is ready for the oven.
You can find these cookies at the Damascus Gate – just as you are through the Damascus Gates on your left-hand side is a stall.
Made from tahini (sesame butter) or other nut butters such as sunflower seed butter. Typically served at breakfast. Personally halva is just too rich for me.
Za’tar , falafel, bread, olives, yoghurt, tahini, garlic, onions, pickles, sage and mint, lamb and rice. This is just a few of the distinct tastes you’ll be able to find in Jordan.
Even though I’ll be listing some of these cuisines as Jordanian, that doesn’t mean it originated in Jordan. Jordan has culinary influences from North Africa, the Middle East, Mediterranean and Persia.
Hummus is possible the most well-known Middle Eastern food around the world. I frequently make hummus at home and have to say you have not tasted hummus until you’ve tried it in Jordan or Israel my friend. The texture is sublime and somehow it tastes a little different. Which I think is due to the ratio of chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice , garlic and tahini they use.
8. Babaganoush and Moutable.
Try their version of baba ghanoush ( eggplant dip) along side a mezze platter . In addition if you encounter moutable, it’s also worth a try as it’s almost similar to baba ghanoush but they also use yoghurt to make it even creamier.
One of many Arabic desserts commonly found in Jordan, made with semolina, coconut, cream, sugar, yoghurt and almonds. All baked until a golden brown deliciousness is produced.
10. Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee, which is served thick and muddy, is spiced with cardamom and you’ll find it at restaurants, street food stalls, and gas stations.
Places to visit :
Mahane Yehuda Market
One of the most popular food markets in Jerusalem where you’ll easily find most of the foods mentioned above . With a great local vibe and a huge variety of cuisines , I highly recommend you make time to visit this market.
Gold City Cafe & Restaurant with a panoramic view
We had our last meal of our trip overlooking the old city . The vibe is very nice and the traditional cuisines is adequate. Overall the spectacular view makes it every bit worth it to visit this restaurant.
Food is such an integral part of Jordanian and Israeli culture. When eating here, you’re almost certain to meet with some of the most hospitable and friendly people you’ve ever met.
Beteavon (beh-tay-ah-vohn; Hebrew for good appetite)!