Dakotah Manson is a student at Allegheny College and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying with ISA in Amman, Jordan.
If there’s one way to my heart, it’s definitely through food. Lucky for me, Jordan is home to some of my favorite dishes! My number one favorite is a dessert called knafeh which is a delicious and cheesy slice of heaven on a plate! In Amman, there is a sweet shop downtown called Habibah which is incredibly well-known for their knafeh! At any given moment, whether it’s 2pm or 11pm, there is always a long line of people waiting their turn. My favorite knafeh place is within 5 minutes of my apartment which I frequent more than I’d ever like to admit!
When I walk through the door I’m automatically greeted with smiles and hellos. In Jordanian culture, building relationships with people is incredibly important especially when it comes to business owners! Respect goes a long way and because I’ve built positive relationships with the employees I tend to get my order right away. Perks of being a loyal customer and putting in effort when it comes to others! This sweet shop also puts a heaping amount of cashews and pistachios on top which I love!
As tasty as knafeh is, if I didn’t talk about falafel, did I really study abroad in Jordan? Falafel could be it’s own food group to me and I can eat it any time of the day whether it’s for breakfast or as a late night snack. I’ve tried my fair share of falafel places here in Amman, but my absolute favorite is a restaurant right outside of the North Gate at the University of Jordan. This is another place where the owner already knows my order because I frequent it so much! They have soft sweet bread which they layer with hummus, a cucumber and tomato mixture, lettuce, and of course the falafel! This is what I call a big falafel sandwich. For small falafel sandwiches, which is falafel on pita bread, the falafel store around the corner from me is my go to! They put french fries, eggplant, hummus, cucumber and tomatoes, and falafel on it! By the time I make the 5 minute walk between the store and the main door to my apartment, my sandwich is gone. It’s too good to wait to eat!
Besides falafel, there are many other tasty dishes! I recently discovered a new dish while on an excursion to an area called Ghor. We had the wonderful opportunity to visit an NGO and interact with the locals here. Although most of the people live in poverty, I was shown such warmth and kindness and the meal they fed me made my eyes fly open upon my first bite. It was a simple dish called Gallayet Bandora that consisted of only tomatoes, onion, chili peppers, and garlic! The ingredients are slow cooked together until it is stew like and is then eaten with bread! The bread we ate with it was also homemade!
I enjoyed it so much that I even made it for dinner last night and plan on taking the recipe back to the states with me!
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought about bringing an abundant amount of knafeh and falafel on the flight home with me. The US is seriously lacking Middle Eastern food as authentic as this, but that’s alright because it just means I’ll have to come back to Jordan again and you should visit too!
The world awaits…discover it.