Jordan is a beautiful country full of diversity and richness. And if you are currently in Jordan or planning to visit it soon, this will be an unforgettable experience for you to try! While it is a must for every visitor to Jordan to enjoy the wonderfulness of the red-rose city “Petra”, to relax and float in the “Dead Sea” and to dive and explore the red corals in the “Red Sea” in Aqaba, there’s no escape but to try Jordanian delicious food. Without indulging in a Jordanian traditional dish, your visit cannot be complete! And, if that’s the case, you will need to come back again rather sooner than later to do everything you missed to in your previous visits.
Today I’m writing about a lovely experience that you will keep talking about and try to make for ages. If you wonder what I mean, please continue reading… It’s not only about tasting wonderful Jordanian dishes and sweets. It’s about actually learning how to make them, before the exciting part comes when you start eating them!
Cooking classes offered by this lovely place that oversees the old part of Amman is called “Beit Sitti”. “Beit Sitti” in Arabic means “my grandmother’s house”. As we are used to be welcomed at our grandmothers’ houses with love and treated with warmth while eating the most delicious food we ever have known, this was exactly my experience at “Beit Sitti“!
Beit Sitti is actually the owners’ grandmother’s house! The place is owned by three sisters (Maria, Dina and Tania). And we got the chance to meet one of the sisters, Maria (who is a professional chef by the way), she was very friendly and welcoming!
The house is absolutely stunning, it’s one of these old Ammani houses, with gorgeous furniture. We couldn’t get over how beautiful the house was. So if you would like to see what do old and traditional Ammani houses look like, you will have to visit this place!
Participants in the class I went to were tourists visiting Jordan, expats living in Jordan and a few locals. It was an interesting group coming from different countries all around the world, with different backgrounds and ages. But all shared one thing in common which is their passion for trying amazing food! And I am sure no one was disappointed by the end of this wonderful class. We were warmly welcomed by friendly owners. And although it has been the first time we ever see them, it felt as if we have known them since forever!
Dima, the organizer of the whole event was very engaging and kept telling us interesting stories during the class about this special place, how they came up with this idea of having their cooking classes, and interpreting what “Um Reem” has been explaining.
“Um Reem” is an experienced cook that taught us how to cook amazing food! I still remember the taste of the wonderful food very well just thinking of how delicious it was! She did not only show us how to make dishes, but also kept giving us helpful tips to use in the kitchen that are useful for everyone no matter what type of cuisine they are preparing.
We started preparing for the class with refreshing natural lemonade served in little jars!
The dishes that we prepared consisted of a starter; for us it was a simple but mouthwatering traditional salad (Farmer’s salad) that is made in every house in Jordan. But to be honest with you, I have never tried a salad as good as this one, which was done under the supervision and guidance of “Um Reem”.
The farmer’s salad is in fact, a very simple salad, it consists of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, and seasoned with salt and black pepper! Try it, it’s absolutely delicious!
Then we had a side dish which was mtabbal. We prepared it from scratch. From roasting the eggplants, to pealing and cutting them while they were still hot, to combining the right amounts of healthy ingredients to mix with eggplant and make the dish, which was a million times better than what you can buy from the supermarket. I won’t forget the helpful tips that “Um Reem” gave us to cook eggplants and prepare the most amazing mtabbal.
For a wonderful Mtabbal recipe, follow this link.
The main dishes that they usually make at Beit Sitti’s cooking classes are actually the traditional dishes that are prepared everyday in every house in Jordan. These could be Mlokhiyeh, Maaloubeh, Mandi, Sinieyet Kafta, Fattet batenjan and many more. In our class we had fattet batenjan (also called fattet Makdous).
While at the beginning when I found out that this will be our main dish that we are going to prepare, I was a bit hesitant, thinking it would be a not-so-easy dish to prepare that will require a lot of time and effort. I can say that I was completely wrong. “Um Reem” showed us how to prepare the most amazing fattet batenjan! And it wasn’t difficult to prepare at all.
And I should not forget to tell you about our “pita bread” experience that I never ever imagined that we would be able to make it from scratch and eat it during the same class!
And the interesting part was actually baking the little pita breads in a traditional oven! An oven that I used to see at my grandfather’s house!
The dessert was simply amazing. It is called “Osmaliyeh”. It’s also something that we used to buy from specialized dessert shops like Habiba, or just eat it at a restaurant, and I never thought I could prepare it myself.
It’s kind of similar to Knafeh, but it’s also very different. We made Osmaliyeh with Muhalabeyeh inside, which is sort of like a cream base dessert made with corn starch and milk.
There are different kinds of Osmaliyeh, the most popular one is stuffed with fresh cream.
So the dessert was simple, easy to make and amazingly delicious. And most importantly, I knew exactly how and what it has been made of. Isn’t that great? For me, this cooking class provided me with great knowledge about preparing all these dishes, cooking tips that I am using everyday since then, and has been such a delightful experience that I enjoyed every single minute of.
I would happily recommend every visitor to Jordan, every expat living in Jordan, as well as local people to go and try a class (or even more) at “Beit Sitti”. It is an amazing experience that will please your soul as well as your tasting buds, and from which you will probably come out with a couple of new friends that you have made during this wonderful class. If you are planning to visit Jordan, this is an additional reason to do so very soon! Enjoy the experience!
Disclosure: We were guests of Jordan Tourism Board, but all opinions are our own.