Excavating through the old cultural traditions of Jordanian cooking was not on Chef Mohammed Lafi’s mind when he first joined the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts in Amman, Jordan. Four years back, a group of chefs – including Lafi- from the Academy started their journey to explore the hidden secrets of the Jordanian traditional recipes. They embarked on this journey to fulfill his majesty’s vision King Abdullah II to locate Jordan on the culinary map of the world and writing the very first original cook book about our beloved country Jordan. “What is known about Jordan’s rich cooking culture is almost less than 10% of what is originally out there.” chef Lafi explained.
Exploring the Jordanian cooking culture has started with extensive research among the history of Jordan and the surrounding area. According to chef Lafi, this research took some time, as they had to know the origins of each dish, its components and the actual cooking process used for each recipe. “We collected recipes from all the areas in Jordan and it wasn’t until recently that we started to write down all the recipes with the exact ingredients and cooking techniques. We had the help of all the old ladies and local community from the provinces and villages around Jordan” Chef Lafi added. Those ladies were invited to the campus of the Academy to cook their recipes while the chefs jotted down in details the cooking process of each dish.
It was not only a journey to discover the dishes themselves, but it was more of a journey that allowed the participating chefs to know what treasures Jordan hides among its landscape. It has enlightened them of the various plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables, spices and the marine life that Jordan has. “We were astonished by all these ingredients that our country has and barely no one knows about, from wild aromatic and intense herbs like thyme and sage, several kinds of edible mushrooms, wild pistachios and strawberries to lobsters and a rich marine life!” This is all added to the high quality of honey, olive oil and the beverage industry that Jordan is known for.
The creation of this book was supported by Royal society of the Conservation of Nature, Royal Botanic Gardens, Amman Municipality, Badiya Development and Research Program and Jordan Tourism Board. The first Jordanian culinary book will be under the title of “The World Heritage: Jordanian Cook Book”. Chef Lafi was very excited to inform us that they are now in recipe development process and he hopes that they soon move the next step of photography, editing with hopes to be published during 2015.