Don’t miss out on the ultimate food experience when travelling in Jordan. The kingdom’s national dish, Mansaf, should be a point on every traveller’s bucket list.

Photo by: WAELBQ

What is Mansaf?

It is a traditional Arabic dish, noticeably most popular in Jordan, which has made Mansaf its national dish. It is a dish made of rice, lamb, dried goat yoghurt (also called jameed), pine nuts and shrak (very flat bread, similar to crepes). Sometimes, the head of the lamb is placed on top as a symbol of good quality and fresh meat. In fairness, Mansaf is also popular in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Palestine, with slight variations in preparation.

In Jordan, it is usually served on a huge platter, with the shrak spread out on the bottom. Then, a gigantic mountain of rice is piled on top of it. The lamb meat is scattered on top, and pine nuts are sprinkled over the whole dish.

Mansaf is more than just delicious food, it is an experience in itself!

A bit of history

There is no better way of putting it: Mansaf is not only food, it is part of the Jordanian culture. In the past, the dish was known to resolve conflicts between Jordanian tribes. Nowadays, it is common to eat Mansaf at parties, family reunions or celebrations.

Mansaf was first prepared by Bedouins in the Arabian desert. Back then, it was made with camel or lamb meat, shrak bread and ghee or meat broth. Rice and jameed were included in the dish at a later stage. As Bedouins lived like nomads and moved around a lot, they spread their recipes throughout the region.

Photo by: Delphine Vincent

Etiquette around Mansaf

There is a certain Jordanian pride and significance that goes with eating Mansaf. The national dish is served on one big platter, with everyone eating from the same platter with their hands. Amongst locals, women and men sometimes have separate platters. Usually, Mansaf is eaten while standing around the table it’s served on.

In a very traditional setting, the host is always serving the guests. This shows appreciation, respect and good hospitality. The host is expected to continuously place pieces of lamb in front of all guests, and also keep pouring the jameed sauce. As a guest, you would not help yourself to the meat, but a good host will ensure that there is always some in front of you. You should also only eat from the “section” in front of you and not take food that is placed in front of other people. The host is not supposed to stop eating until the last guest has finished.

And finally: After your feast, you are allowed to lick your hands! Only if you don’t intend to dip your hands back into the platter, of course…

How to eat Mansaf

To really get the taste of Mansaf, you should eat it the traditional way: with your hands. It’s not as easy as it sounds, though. First and foremost, you should eat with your right hand and your left hand behind your back.

When aiming to catapult the first load into your mouth, take a good handful of rice and lamb, and form a ball in your hand. Avoid squeezing the rice too hard, as it will stick to your palm otherwise. Eat the entire ball in one bite and try not to touch your mouth or lips, if possible. Also, try to keep your face and the space around you tidy J

If you know how, Mansaf is not too difficult to prepare. Here is a good recipe: http://foodemag.com/recipe-mansaf/

Photo by: Gigiola

If you want to experience a Mansaf feast during your trip to Jordan, get in touch with us, and we make it happen! Contact us via Trip.me here: https://www.trip.me/profile/31265 or check out the trips on our website: https://in2jordan.com/intineraries/

 

Updated In2Jordan travel app: Your personalised travel app will now provide an even better experience, having everything you need for your holiday in one place!

What is Vamoos?

Vamoos is an incredibly handy (and free) travel app. With the app, you can access all your documents, important information and even the local weather forecast. Moreover, you can easily share your holiday photos and message with your travel companions. All you need in one place!

Other features of Vamoos include:

  • Your itinerary and a count-down to your departure date
  • A map with all the locations you will visit
  • A general overview of local customs, language tips, and additional excursions that might be useful during your visit
  • Your transport and accommodation vouchers
  • suggested points of interest in your surrounding area
  • Links to external websites
  • Separate sign-in for all travellers

With In2Jordan being the first company using Vamoos in the Middle East, you’ve got a clear advantage if booking with us!

How does it work?

It’s really easy, you cannot go wrong. Firstly, our In2Jordan experts work with you to create your perfect holiday. When you’re happy with the itinerary, we’ll invite you to download Vamoos via the App Store on your phone.

Once downloaded, enter your personal reference number, which you will have received from your destination expert. Upon opening the app, you will be presented with the names of all travellers. Choose your own name and enter the app. You will be presented with a fully personalised app, containing all the information about your holiday. Simple!

Why use it?

Apart from all the obvious reasons why you should use it, here is another one: We also aim to reduce our environmental footprint by digitising many tourism paper-based processes, making them available 24/7. The updated Vamoos app houses all your travel essentials on your phone.

For In2Jordan, responsible tourism is a priority. We build itineraries that allow you to spend as much time with locals as possible so you can learn their ancient culture from the grassroots and make the most out of your holiday!

 

Here is a list of the 7 biggest differences between Western and Jordanian culture. Some of them will blow your mind!

1. Clothing in the Jordanian Culture 

Photo: Lauras Eye

It’s pretty obvious that clothing is a major difference in culture. Especially with locals and tourists, different ways of clothing often lead to misunderstandings. If you show too much skin it can come across as disrespectful and offensive in Jordan.

You will also notice that Jordanians pay more attention to dress well than people in the West. You would rarely see someone walking down the street in scruffy looking clothes! In Jordan, both men and women, expose as little skin as possible and always cover upper arms.

 

2. Culture around invitations

Here is something worth knowing: When being offered something, it is actually considered polite to refuse a few times before accepting!

If you genuinely don’t want to accept, this is a way of saying no in a socially acceptable way. With a big smile and right hand over your heart saying ‘shukran shukran’ (which means ‘thank you, thank you’). Although, you might have to say this a few times due to the ritual of polite insistence…

A tip for female travelers in Jordan: If you’re happen to be invited to a local family for dinner, it might be handy to wear trousers instead of skirts or low cut waists. Also bring a scarf with you. Most of the people sit on the ground to eat and you need to bend over to reach the food. On this way you’re sure to not show any cleavage, whether it’s on the front or the back! Jordanians also eat with their right hand, as the left one is for the toilet. You might want to do the same if you don’t want people looking at you in a confused way 🙂

Another cultural difference exists around gift giving: Be aware when complimenting someone’s possessions. As opposed to in the West, if you show interest in an object your host is supposed to give it to you!

3. Interactions between men and women

Men and women interact very differently with each other in Jordanian and Western culture. Public displays of affection between a man and a woman like holding hands or kissing are not recommended, even if the couple is married. Though you see more couples holding hands these days, a kiss on the lips is still kept for inside the house.

It is less known that Islamic women cannot interact freely with men outside their direct family (e.g. father, brother, closest cousins). Therefore, it is also common for a man to only greet the husband. Greeting the wife could be interpreted as showing too much interest.

Tip for male travelers: A woman might place a hand on her heart when greeting you, which means that she would not like to shake hands with a strange man.

A tip for female travelers: You might automatically look everyone in the eyes at home. It’s considered a sign of honesty in the West. Though, in the Middle East it might be considered as an invitation to something more than that!

4. Status of women

You will notice a big difference regarding the status of women in Jordan and in Western countries. In the Middle East, most women are staying at home, taking care of the family and children instead of having a career of their own. However, many women actually go to university (and even more so than boys) but once married don’t work in their profession.

Motives of decision making are also different, with the Western culture being more individualistically oriented. Jordanian women, on the other hand, are more focused and make decisions based on the collective interest of the family.

In order to empower more women to work and to be self-sustainable, we organize different activities around Jordan. If you are interested, consider joining one of our excursions to the Iraq Al Amir Women Cooperative Society in Amman or the Looming Ladies of Udruth in Petra. The women there have numerous skills to teach you, like producing soap or Bedouin weaving! Click here for more info: https://in2jordan.com/tours/workshops-in-jordan/

5. Customs around social interaction

Photo: petergustafson9

Jordanians are very energetic with regards to social interaction. Even if they are strangers they will hang around for a chat and exchange opinions. Westerners, who are not used to lengthy conversations with strangers, can often come across as cold or uninterested if not being too chatty when in a shop, for example.

So, when travelling in Jordan, have a chat with shopkeepers, they are genuinely interested where you come from.

 

 

Jordanians also shake hands more often – also with strangers. You’ll notice that sometimes Jordanians also shake hands with each other while in conversation when agreeing on something or joking around.

6. Muslim men can have up to four wives

In Jordan, Muslim men are allowed to have up to 4 wives – unimaginable in Western culture! Still, in Jordan polygamy is restricted and the first wife has to give her consent. It is not very common anymore, though.

7. Family is important

Family is very important in Jordanian culture. Here, people like to stay close to their family and relatives, and daily visits are not uncommon. If the family is not in close proximity, you’ll see a lot of people talking on the phone or Skype to their relatives, sometimes for hours or while doing other things. Respect for the elderly is also a big part of the culture, as well as taking care of parents when they grow old.

If you want to interact with locals and experience the famous hospitality of Jordanian families, have a look at our community-based tourism itinerary. Click here for more information: https://in2jordan.com/tours/community-based-tourism-jordan/

When Spanish writer and blogger, Patricia Peyró wanted to explore the benefits of yoga in the desert, she called on In2Jordan expert, Jolinda Cath.  Check out her article below which includes seven key reasons to practice yoga.  

Click here for the original article, which was first published by Patricia Peyró on The Luxonomist.  

Credit: Jolinda Cath

“The culmination of pleasure: doing yoga in the desert

Do you like yoga? And travel? Now it is possible to combine both hobbies by practicing yogi tourism, an upward modality of health, well-being and spirituality.

Enjoying yoga in the middle of nature has become one of the favorite retreats of those who practice this type of alternative tourism. Within nature, connoisseurs describe the desert as the culmination of pleasure to make any escape a real refuge where to abandon the well-being of moderate introspection.

How does an early morning yoga session sound? And a walk among dunes, steep rocks and endless plains of intense reddish tones that will change color with light? The desert of Wadi Rum in Jordan may be the best proposal for an unforgettable vacation practicing your favorite sport. Jolinda Cath has Dutch nationality but has settled for years in Jordan, where she develops the greatest of her passions: yoga.

 In addition to being an instructor of this modality, she has worked for years in tourism, organizing tailor-made trips in different countries of the world, in each of them adding knowledge and new hobbies. In fact, there are three of her great loves: yoga , photography and travel. Certainly a combination of the most attractive. As she explains: “Perhaps my passions seem very different from each other, but somehow I live them as complementary, since one inspires the other and creates the next.”

Credit: Jolinda Cath

” Jolinda offers tailor-made tours for small groups combining yoga with tourism in Jordan.”

 Jolinda offers tailor-made tours for small groups combining yoga with tourism in Jordan. A basic yoga trip would have a program with practice in the morning and afternoon, although it can be intensified on demand up to three times daily and with meditation. But what is important is what the group is looking for.

 “I prefer groups of between six and 16 people, so it’s an intimate experience that creates a safe and inspiring atmosphere, ” says the instructor. “Travel can be done all year round, but in the summer we go north of Jordan, because in the south it’s too hot.”

Credit: Jolinda Cath

“Jordan has many nature reserves and even waterfalls. Not everything is desert.”

 What starts out as a yoga retreat trip can also be used to visit a fascinating country that has a lot to offer . It is possible to do this route halfway between the holistic journey and the dream destination:  “Many people come a week to the retreat, but it is a perfect country to travel, as well as very safe.”

And this is said by the religious theme, which generates some confusion and resentment, despite the reality:  “Here live many Christians in peace and harmony with Muslims.”   And, breaking more myths, “Jordan has many nature reserves and even waterfalls. Not everything is desert,” she clarifies.

Yoga: Much More Than Fashion Exercise

In recent years, yoga has gone from being the great unknown to one of the most demanded fashion practices. However, beyond appearances and that is cool to practice, the truth is that it has huge benefits for the practitioner. What in many cases begins being a moment of relaxation to work the muscular elasticity, ends up offering much more and “little by little, the people begin to see it like a very complete practice in physical and mental level”, explains the expert.

Credit: Jolinda Cath

 Reasons to practice yoga:

  • Strengthens and tones muscles, increasing physical endurance.
  • Increases flexibility because it favors the stretching of muscle groups.
  • It gives more energy and brings a state of well-being.
  • It helps to improve posture.
  • The positions or asanas are effective to combat different ailments (arthritis, asthma, anxiety …).
  • On a mental level, concentration increases, emotional stability and inner peace.
  • Spiritually integrates the personal experiences favoring the psychic harmony and favoring the inner connection with the world that surrounds us.

 Why Wadi Rum? 

It is disconnecting. To achieve this, paradoxically, nothing better than to get in touch with the most authentic and grand nature, which will make you feel small with respect to the universe, helping you to relativize everything. The Wadi Rum desert is located in the south of Jordan, bordering Saudi Arabia.

It is the same that Lawrence of Arabia crossed, and stands out for the beauty of its mountains of rocky sandstones, with spectacular and grandiose forms. The yogi experience in the desert will make you connect with your most mystical side, but at the same time will allow you to do some tourism in the country if you wish, enjoy the good gastronomy of the Middle East and record in your retina forever The ochres of Wadi Rum.

 Get more information by clicking here 

Photographs: Cath Productions.”

Credit: Jolinda Cath

For more information on joining a yoga session or retreat with Jolanda, click here: https://in2jordan.com/tours/vipassana-retreat-yoga-day-silence/ 

Photo by @army.arch

One thing is clear: Za’atar seems to be many things, and everyone has a different opinion on what Za’atar actually is.

Having talked to a local chef, we settled on the fact that Za’atar can refer to a herb mix, as well as the herb itself (which is very similar or even the same as oregano).

What do you use it for?

Za’atar is very popular in the Middle East and definitely not one of the things you should miss while in Jordan! It is often used as a dip, on bread, for seasoning meat and vegetables or some even sprinkle it into hummus or yoghurt.

Where does it come from?

The Za’atar spice grows in the north of Jordan and in the Mediterranean Middle East. It has to be cleaned, dried and ground before it is mixed with other spices. Once it’s mixed, that is the Za’atar you can buy in the shops and on the markets. Ingredients and taste of Za’atar tend to vary slightly depending on the region, but you can always ask for the ingredients or to try it first.

Recipe for Manakish Za’atar

We asked the local chef for the most popular recipe with Za’atar: It’s Manakish Za’atar! It’s easily done, and every bloody beginner can do it: Simply mix the Za’atar spice (or oregano, whatever you have at hand) with sesame seeds and lemon salt, then add some oil to make it into a paste. Spread the mixture (Za’atar) on flat bread and chuck it into the oven for 10 minutes. Done.

If you feel like this is not enough, you can also add grated cheese into the mix (Gibna Manakish), or meat with onions and tomato (Lachma Manakish)!

Photo by: @Phil Oglesby

 

Vamoos, In2Jordan’s travel app is now available for customers via the app store, and compatible with Android and iPhone tablets and mobile devices.

 

Writer: Carmen Scholten

Ready, steady, click, and complete! That’s how easy it is to immerse yourself in your Jordanian adventure, before and during your visit, with the new In2Jordan travel app, Vamoos.

Developed by a UK company, Vamoos is designed to let you access all your travel information on your mobile device even without having a data signal. In2Jordan is proud to be the first company to take advantage of the app’s specialist travel services across the Middle East. All in the pursuit of making your holiday as seamless as possible.

We couldn’t be more excited to help you and your travel mates count down the days until your holiday. Easily check the weather so you know which clothes to pack; and, place all your essential travel documents in one convenient place so you’re ready to go.

Responsible traveling

Responsible traveling is high on our priority list. As part of this, we build itineraries that allow you to spend as much time with local communities as possible so you can learn their ancient culture from the grassroots. We also aim to reduce our environmental footprint by digitising many tourism paper-based processes, making them accessible and available 24/7. Enter the new Vamoos app that houses all your travel essentials on your phone.

How it works

First things first, our In2Jordan destination experts work closely with you to create a customised itinerary to develop a holiday that fits all your needs. Then we invite you to download Vamoos via the App store on your phone, which is compatible with Android and iOS mobile devices. In2Jordan will provide you with a unique code to enter. This code transports you to a wholly personalized experience where you will find all the necessary information about your holiday, already conveniently entered by your In2Jordan expert.

Key information that you will find on the app, includes:

  • Your itinerary and a count-down to your departure date
  • A map with all the locations you will visit
  • A general overview of local customs, language tips, and additional excursions that might be useful during your visit
  • Your transport and accommodation vouchers
  • A weather tab that displays the temperature of the locations you will visit
  • A tab that allows you to share pictures and messages within the group you travel with

 

The only thing we would advise you to do is to keep the contact information of your travel consultant somewhere else, in case you lose your phone!

Get ready for your Jordan holiday in no-time! Take a look here for more inspiration on unique accommodations or for the latest testimonials from our guests.