How easy is it to eat vegetarian food in Jordan? As a vegetarian, you might think of Jordan as a country that isn’t known for its vegetarian dishes. Although Jordanians love their meat, such as shoarma, kebab and mansaf – the national dish made with lamb meat – you can still find a wide range of vegetarian options in Jordanian cuisine. Better Places Travel expert Elena suggests tips on how to eat delicious vegetarian food throughout your journey in Jordan.
The mezze is the most popular way in which meals are prepared in Jordan. Similar to Spanish tapas, you get a variety of plates and platters with different dishes, allowing you to put together your own meal and try various foods. This is a relatively easy way of avoiding meat-based dishes.
You should always be clear about the fact that you do not eat any meat. The term vegetarian is relatively unknown in the Middle East, so many Jordanians will not understand what you do and don’t eat. For example, some Jordanians don’t consider chicken or fish as meat. Extra tip: tell people you are allergic to meat and that eating it makes you ill. People will not go into discussion with you about your choices for not eating meat, let alone make you ill on purpose.
Vegetarian food in Jordan: What are the popular vegetarian dishes in Jordan?
In Jordan, you will guaranteed eat hummus at least once a day. This puree, made from chickpeas, is pretty much served with everything. Each restaurant makes their own version , but a great hummus must be creamy and soft on the tongue. Sometimes they put in extra ingredients, such as chilli, in order to make it somewhat spicier. Hummus is usually eaten with different types of bread like pita or a thin bread known as shrak, which comes from Bedouin origins.
Ful medames bears close resemblance to hummus. It is a mix of squashed broad beans, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. This is a typical Arabic meal that is very popular in Egypt, but is also commonly eaten in Jordan. A great substitute for meat, beans are an ideal option for vegetarians who don’t want to miss out on certain nutrients. Another variant of hummus is moutabel: a puree made from aubergine. The taste is somewhat smokier and spicier than hummus. Try it with a fresh salad on the side!
On top of this there is also the falafel. This is one of the all-time favourite dishes among vegetarians visiting the Middle East. They consist of fried balls made out of squashed chickpeas, making them a good meat substitute. Labaneh looks like a thick, creamy yoghurt and is always served with breakfast. It is great to combine with bread that is sprinkled with za’atar – a mix of Middle Eastern herbs and olive oil.
A very typical Arabic salad, served alongside meals, consists of finely chopped tomatoes, cucumber, onion and mint. This salad can also be made with parsley, commonly known as tabouleh. Another tasty snack in Jordan is warak enab (stuffed wine leaves). These rolled up leaves are usually filled with rice, vegetables and nuts, but sometimes also meat. Always make sure you ask what the warak enab is stuffed with.
Vegetarian food in Jordan: Top 4 Favourite Spots for Vegetarian Food in Jordan
1. Feynan Eco lodge in the Dana Nature Reserve
One of the most fascinating places to stay overnight in Jordan is the Feynan Ecolodge, situated in the Dana Nature Reserve. This accommodation has a strong focus on sustainability. You will find solar panels installed and the use of candles made by local woman to light the building at night. On top of this, they work a lot with Bedouins that live in the area. The buffet is full of vegetarian dishes, such as salads, soup, pasta, vegetables and of course falafel. The bread is prepared 3 times a day by a local family and is without a doubt some of the best bread you will eat in the country!
2. Haret Jdoudna in Madaba
Madaba, south of Amman and a good base from which to visit the Dead Sea, is also famous for its mosaics. Yet there is another reason for why you should visit this city. Haret Jdoudna is a historic building where you can travel back in time. Both tourists and Jordanians alike come here to eat, and the welcoming ambiance leads to open conversations between the various visitors. Throughout much of the year, you can eat at the tables in the inner courtyard, but even in the winter you will have struck gold, because you can enjoy the warmth of the open fire. The menu consists of both meat and vegetarian dishes. For vegetarians, you can order makdous – walnut-filled aubergines in olive oil – definitely a top recommendation.
3. Hashem in Amman
Hashem is well known by the majority of Jordanians. There are even people that visit the capital Amman just to eat here. This is the place to go to if you want to have the best falafel in the country. Jordanian politicians and even the king of Jordan regularly come to this restaurant to enjoy this flavourful dish. Hashem is very centrally located in the centre of Amman. Do not expect a luxurious restaurant: the inner courtyard has simple chairs where you can sit, surrounded by sellers from whom you can order falafel, hummus, ful medames and even fries. This place has no menu, but the people there are incredibly hospitable and will happily help you in the decision-making process. The best thing about it all? Hashem is open 24 hours and you will never spend more than a couple of euros per person for a huge meal.
4. Shams el Balad in Amman
There are also many more enjoyable places to eat in the centre of Amman. One of the best spots for vegetarians in the capital is Shams el Balad. You can go here for breakfast, lunch or dinner. In this vegetarian restaurant the meals are prepared with fresh seasonal products from the region. There is a nice relaxed atmosphere and the walls are decorated with artwork. From the terrace you have a beautiful view on the citadel of Amman and the rest of the centre. The food in Shams el Balad is not only incredibly tasty, but also well presented. Some of the favourite dishes on the menu are the labaneh balls in olive oil and the free-range egg omelette.