Mansaf is the national dish of Jordan, the dish’s showpiece is lamb cooked in jameed, a special broth made out of fermented yoghurt. Which sounds disgusting – but we can assure you the taste is something else. It’s served on top of a layer of flatbread and rice or bulgar, and then scattered with almonds and pine nuts. If you are wondering what the name means, mansaf stands for “large dish” in Arabic. And, boy, are we glad it is so.
WHAT? Culinary bastion of Downtown Amman, Al-Quds has been pleasing the locals for years with its buzzy atmosphere and scrumptious, no-nonsense food.
WHY? The mansaf comes with a ringing endorsement from the locals. You can choose between lamb or chicken, and the dish comes with the yoghurt sauce on the side, so you can add as much or little as you like. Around JD 18.50
WHERE? King Hussein Street, Amman; +96264630168
WHAT? Founded in 1935 by one Subhi Jabri, this restaurant is something of an Amman institution. Jabri’s sons subsequently took over, after honing their skills in the UK and Germany.
WHY? For mansaf that’s fit for a king: the late King Hussein, father of the current King Abdullah II, was a huge fan of this restaurant. Fresh, tender, tasty – it’s everything mansaf should be. Then again, after nearly 80 years of perfecting, it should be. Around JD 16
WHERE? There are now five branches – the flagship is on Wasfi al-Tal Street, Amman; jabri.com.jo
WHAT? New kid on the foodie block. Sufra opened in 2011 and is part of the Romero group, which owns a chain of fancy restaurants and cafes in Jordan. Its pretty mosaic outdoor roof terrace and central location makes it ideal to indulge in a spot of people-watching, while sipping on a fresh mint tea.
WHY? For mansaf that’s fit for the king: King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania, have popped by for lunch. JD 15.02
WHERE? Rainbow Street, Amman; facebook.com/sufrarestaurant
WHAT? The McDonald’s of Amman – but far superior. Deeritna Express has been serving traditional home-cooked Jordanian food on the go for over a decades, and as its 88,000 fans on Facebook would attest, it’s mighty good.
WHY? To sample the whole tasty spectrum of Jordanian cuisine on the cheap. Mansaf comes with two options: made from local lamb or imported lamb. Always opt for the local – it has a wonderfully intense flavour. Mansaf made from local lamb, JD 7.70; imported lamb, JD 5.85
WHERE? There are two branches: Sweifieh and Abdallah Ghosheh, Amman. They also do a delivery service; deeritnaexpress.com