Local business uses Jordanian cuisine to bridge cultures

Maria Haddad, Beit Sitti’s founder. (Photo: Handout from Beit Sitti)
Maria Haddad, Beit Sitti’s founder. (Photo: Handout from Beit Sitti)
AMMAN — To promote Jordan’s culinary culture, Maria Haddad and her two sisters transformed their grandmother’s old house in Luweibdeh, one of Amman’s oldest neighborhoods, into a restaurant that teaches various Middle Eastern recipes in their grandmother’s style. The restaurant, called Beit Sitti — Arabic for “my grandmother’s house” — offers visitors a collaborative dining experience.اضافة اعلان

The interior of Beit Sitti in Luweibdeh, where guests are invited to cook traditional Jordanian foods for themselves. (Photo: Handout from Beit Sitti)

“The idea behind Beit Sitti is that we want to keep our grandmother's house open and teach people the recipes that she taught us,” Haddad said in an interview with Jordan News.

The business, which allows guests to cook their own meals under professional guidance, opened in 2010. Initially, Maria and her two sisters opened their doors to the local community. However, with time, they started to attract tourists.

“We realized down the line that there are many tourists who want to meet and interact with local women,” Haddad said. “It’s a great platform for locals and foreigners to come and interact with women from east Amman.”

Beit Sitti then became a social business that focuses on supporting local women, she said. 

Maqluba, a traditional Jordanian dish made with chicken, rice, eggplants, and other vegetables, is one of the most popular meals at Beit Sitti. (Photo: Handout from Beit Sitti)

“When we first opened, our greatest obstacle was getting people to understand what our concept was. Everyone who called wanted to book a table and eat. To explain to them that they would have to come in and cook — it was a bit of an issue,” said Haddad.

Three years after they opened Beit Sitti, the three sisters launched a campaign that better explained the restaurant’s concept.

Maria Haddad and her sisters transformed their grandmother’s old house in Luweibdeh into a restaurant that offers an immersive and instructional cooking experience for guests. (Photo: Handout from Beit Sitti)

“In our community, people like to cook together,” Haddad said. “It is a shared experience that has existed for years, and it provides a communal atmosphere.”

She contended that when people cook together, they break barriers, touching on shared interests, and experiences.

Maqluba is Beit Sitti’s most popular dish.

“People love it,” Haddad said. “Eggplant and cauliflower are in most of our dishes and are always available and fresh.”

Caught up in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beit Sitti faced major challenges in 2020, according to Haddad.

Nonetheless, the restaurant persevered.

Guests at Beit Sitti learn to prepare authentic Jordanian meals. (Photo: Handout from Beit Sitti) 

Haddad explained that through Beit Sitti, she learned that cooking paves the way for meeting and understanding people.

“Every single person around the world can relate to us as Arab, as much as they can relate to themselves in their homes,” she said. “We need to be open to people’s experiences and to learn from each other.”

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