Whether you experience a little discomfort or end up with serious trouble… A gluten allergy is always difficult when it comes to traveling abroad. How do you explain your condition to locals? And what can you eat? Learn all about going gluten free in Jordan! 

Maglooba - the upside down one-pot gluten free Jordanian dish!
Maglooba – the upside down one-pot gluten free Jordanian dish!

Gluten free in Jordan

Gluten allergies are not really known in Jordan. It’s better known in the bigger cities such as Amman, where there more and more gluten free menu’s and food are on offer. If you go to the high end restaurants and 5* hotels you will find professionals who know everything about gluten, cross contamination and how to avoid that last one.

But most of the locals don’t know what it is, let stand ever heard about it. Therefore we provide everyone with a gluten allergy, with a document that explains a gluten allergy  in Arabic what you can and can’t eat. You can also show it to the locals when going to any restaurant. We also always communicate your food preferences and allergies to the hotels and restaurants when you pre-book your meals.

Maglooba - Jordanian gluten free dish
Maglooba – Jordanian gluten free dish

Gluten free dishes

It might surprise you but there are many dishes in Jordan that are gluten free! Think about the delicious local mezzes with dips such as hummus*, baba ganouch*, Dawali (Rice stuffed grape leaves) or Makdoosh (garlic and hazelnut stuffed baby aubergines). Another great gluten free starter is Lentil soup, a nice full soup with loads of protein but especially taste.

There is no such thing as gluten free bread in Jordan. You can buy it at select amount of selling points and in Amman only. For example at Crumz or at the “Beat tha wheat shop’ in Cozmo 7th circle. If you’re don’t have the opportunity to go here, it’s better to bring your own gluten free crackers or bread and dip away; going gluten free in Jordan!

Be careful though, some of these dishes contain *tahini (sesame paste), which may be processed in a factory that also processes wheat.

Makdoush : stuffed baby aubergines - Gluten free in Jordan
Makdoush : stuffed baby aubergines – Gluten free in Jordan

Gluten free main courses

You can eat a variety of main courses. Jordan is rich in one-pot rice dishes such as Maglooba. It’s a one-pot upside down rice dish, with veggies, potatoes, chicken, sprinkled with roasted peanuts and parsley. Or go for the traditional Zarb Dinner, the famous Bedouin dish that’s prepared under the ground. It consists of roasted chicken and a variety of roasted vegetables. But also dishes such as Bamia and Mlokhia are incredibly delicious and gluten free. Bamia is made out of okra’s in tomato sauce. Mlokhia is a kind of spinach soup full of garlic. Both are traditionally eaten together with rice.

Dishes to watch out for, they contain gluten:

  • Fattoush salad. Part of this salad is deep-fried bread.
  • Foul: Although this dish is made of beans, they often come from cans before being processed into this dish.
  • Tabouleh: Parsley salad that contains couscous.
  • Any pastry or other types of bread.

Please note that you always should be very careful with what you eat. The above list is just a small one; the Arabic cuisine contains many many dishes and varieties of them, making it impossible to list all of the Arabic dishes that contain gluten.

NOT GLUTEN FREE - Tabouleh salad - parsley salad with couscous. Watch out!
NOT GLUTEN FREE – Tabouleh salad – parsley salad with couscous. Watch out!

Other allergies

Also when you have other allergies, you can come to Jordan. Our travel consultants live in the country and can help you with an advise on what (not) to eat and give you a proper advise on food in Jordan. We also create wonderful itineraries that meet all of your wishes! Contact us any time and we’re more than happy to help.

 

Generous meals in Beit al Baraka
Generous meals in Beit al Baraka
A typical Arabic breakfast – do you know what’s gluten free?

 

A special thanks goes to Mariangela, our favorite Chef in Jordan and Italian Chef the Cuisine of Hilton Dead Sea for the extra tips and tricks about going gluten free in Jordan! 

 

 

Inside In2Jordan: Meet Henk

Meet Henk, the newest member of the pack! Let him tell you about his favourite places in Jordan, what he likes to do in his free time and his (new) job with In2Jordan!

Name: Henk (Jan) Sanders

Age: hmm… I don’t remember when I was born, too long ago. Someone told is now 55 years ago, but I don’t believe it. Still feels like 30 or so.

Occupation: My last jobs were business manager. I had my own business in IT-consulting. Over the years I used to buy, re-organize companies, re-structure, make them profitable and sell them again.

Languages spoken: Dutch of course, English and German are standard second languages for most Dutch people.

 

Q: How long have you been working with In2Jordan?
A: 3 weeks now! Yes, quite an achievement!

Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: I must say, the selling part, communicating with costumers, making nice presentations these are the things I like most. 

Q: What is the hardest part of your job?
A: Dealing with some of my colleagues , who ask too many questions! No, just joking… I have very nice and helpful colleagues. Hardest is collecting all the prices and once a trip is booked by our costumer, making sure that the costumer has the holiday of his life in Jordan and wants to come back! 

Q: What parts of Jordan do your guests get most excited about?
A: For sure Petra and Wadi Rum!

Q: Where is your favourite place in Jordan?
A:. The deserts, the mountains, not only in Jordan, but all over the world. And in Jordan, of course Petra is spectacular to see and visit. The best thing for me in Petra is the hiking and climbing to the high parts of this city. But I go crazy for deserts and mountains: the views, the air that you breathe – always amazing for me!
I used to drive rally (4X4 Landrover Dutch Profi team) in some of the worlds most beautiful deserts and therefor visited many deserts. I love to be in these places, just sit or lay and listen to the silence. In the time I still lived in Holland, I frequently just went for a weekend to Switzerland or Austria to walk in mountains. 

Q: Why did you decide to move to Jordan?
A: We lived in Egypt for several years before last summer, and left for Jordan, because my wife received a job offer in Jordan. She really wanted to do this job and enter this company, so we went to Jordan. 

 

Inside In2Jordan: Meet Henk

 

 

 

Inside In2Jordan: Meet KhaledMeet Khaled Sabbah Atieg, In2Jordan’s colleague in Wadi Rum! Let him tell you about his job, his favourite places and what it’s like growing up in the desert.

Name: Khaled Sabbah Atieg
Age: 34 years old
Occupation: Tour guide and camp owner of Khaled’s Camp in Wadi Rum
Languages spoken: Fluent in Arabic and English

 

Q: How long have you been working with In2Jordan?
A: I have been working with In2Jordan for 6 years now.

Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: The best part of my job is meeting new people every day! It is very nice is to help them explore and discover the desert of Wadi Rum, especially if they are visiting for the first time.

Q: What parts of Jordan do your guests get most excited about?
A: I think usually people who come to Jordan and Wadi Rum are most excited about Petra, the Dead Sea and of course Wadi Rum.

Q: What is the hardest part of your job?
A: There is not really a hard part in my job but what I don’t like when guest leave Wadi Rum and they are sad because they don’t have enough time to stay longer in the desert.

Q: Where is your favourite place in Jordan?
A:. My favourite place in Jordan is Wadi Rum, of course! But I also like Petra as well as Um Qais and Jerash in the north of Jordan.

Q: What was it like growing up in Wadi Rum?

A: Growing up in Wadi Rum means being close contact to nature. 

There is  a big connection between me and the desert because I was born and grew up here. I’m in love with the desert and I cant imagine any life different.

Being a Bedouin means knowing how to live in the desert and how to survive with limited resources in food, water and technology. It also means to know how to appreciate everything that nature has to offer. Our rhythm of life is the rhythm of nature.

For us, it is important to keep our traditions with generosity and hospitality and welcoming people. I am really proud to be a Bedouin .

 

 

To find out more about Khaled and his camp, check out his website: http://www.wadi-rum.com/index.php

or follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WADIRUMCAMPING/

 

 

Inside In2Jordan: Meet Khaled

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/

 

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/

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.