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Food is an important part of the culture and is used to express hospitality and generosity. Jordanians are exceptionally hospitable. Do not be surprised if you are invited to share a meal in someone's home... when Jordanians invite you, they mean it!

Alcohol is forbidden by Islam, but is widely available in hotels, restaurants, bars and some shops. Drinking is strictly prohibited on streets. Islam also forbids eating pig.

Islam also has a tendency to divide the sexes, and you might find that many eating establishments only welcome men. Most of these will, if asked, show you to the 'family room', an area set aside for women.

During Ramadan smoking, eating and drinking in public is prohibited during the hours of daylight and alcohol is not sold, except to non-Muslims in the larger hotels.

When Jordanians eat out they will usually order group meals. A selection of mezze or starters, followed by main meals to share.

Mezze

 Khobz: Arabic unleavened bread, round and flat, which is eaten with almost everything.

 Hummus: a puree of chickpeas with tahina (sesame seed paste), garlic and lemon juice.

 Falafel: deep-fried chickpea balls.

 Baba ghanoush: a paste made from smoked aubergine or egg-plant and tahina.

 Foul medames: a paste of boiled fava beans with garlic, lemon juice, cumin and lots of olive oil.

 Kibbe maqliya: deep-fried balls made from meat and burghul (cracked wheat) with a spicy meat and onion filling.

 Fattayer and sumbusek: small pastries filled with minced meat, sharp white cheese or a mixture of spinach and herbs.

 Tabouleh: a salad of chopped parsley, tomato, onion and fresh mint, mixed with burghul weat and lemon juice.

Main dishes

 Mansaf: Jordan's national dish, a Bedouin speciality of lamb served on a bed of rice and pine nuts, in a tangy yoghurt sauce. Mansaf is traditionally eaten from a communal dish using the right hand.

 Kebabs: pieces of meat roasted over a charcoal fire. Variations: shish taouk (boneless chicken), shish kebab (boneless lamb or beef) and kofta kebab (spicy minced lamb).

 Farooj: spit-roasted chicken.

 Sayadiya: fried fish cooked with rice, found especially in Aqaba.

Sweets

 Baklava: thin layers of phyllo pastry with chopped nuts in sweet honey syrup.

 Konafa: shredded dough filled with nuts or goats cheese, baked in syrup.

 Ataif: a Ramadan treat, small deep-fried pancakes stuffed with nuts or cheese.

 Ma'moud: pastries with nuts and dates, perfumed with rose water.

 Mohallabiya: a milk pudding with rose or orange-flower water.

 Sahlab: a hot milk drink flavoured with powdered sahlab root and served with chopped pistachio nuts, cinnamon and rose water.

Coffee & tea

 Coffee and tea are important symbols of hospitality. It is very common to be offered coffee or tea in small shops or to be invited in someone's home. It is good etiquette to accept.

 Jordanian coffee is strong and served in tiny cups, often flavoured with cardamom. Turkish coffee is also common; don't try to drink the last mouthful, as it will be full of coffee grounds. American coffee and decaffeinated coffee are available in the cities and larger hotels.

 Tea is served in small glasses and is usually very sweet. Tea with fresh mint makes a refreshing variation.
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