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Mesopotamia means “between 2 rivers”



 Iraqi  Cuisine

Settled between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the area known as Iraq today was called Mesopotamia up until the end of World War I (1914–1918). 

Mesopotamia refers to the region now occupied by modern Iraq, eastern Syria and southern Turkey.   The name comes from the Greeks and it means "between 2 rivers" , and is known as the Cradle of Civilization.

A Middle eastern country,  bordered by KuwaitSaudi Arabia ,Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Iran.


In the sixth century BC Iraq was part of Persia. From 331 BC Alexander the Great controlled the region. Alexander's death led to the beginning of the Greek Dynasty that lasted for over two hundred years.  Various Persian dynasties followed the Seleucids.

The middle of the seventh century saw the Arab invasion of Iraq and the introduction of Islam.

Following the end of the Caliphate reign, Turks and Iranians vied to rule Iraq. In 1534 the Ottoman Empire took control of Iraq until the First World War.


Iraqi cuisine has many roots, one of which is tent cookery. Nomadic tribes could use only transportable foods. The cuisine has been influenced by  ancient civilizations, which also had influence from Greek and Persian cuisines. With the coming of Islam and Arabs, the food was enhanced to combine old and new .  With the Ottoman rule of Iraq, influences of Turkish cuisine also became incorporated into Iraqi recipes. It has been influenced also by Iran (Persia) which have occupied Iraq at different times.

Soups and stews are prepared with vegetables and meat. Meat and fish are eaten with rice and vegetables . Stuffed vegetables are popular, lamb is also stuffed and roasted. Another traditional dish is spiced minced meat with nuts and raisins. Kebabs, usually made with lamb are a favourite meal . Wheat, barley, rice and dates as well as flat white bread is a staple food.

Pastries are prepared with almond and date fillings and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Baklava is a popular pastry with layers of nuts and honey. Other desserts are made with milk, cream and rice.


Although Iraq may not have a distinct cooking style, there are several dishes native to the country. Masgoof is a whole-skewered fish barbequed on an outdoor grill. 

Iraqis cook almost every part of an animal, from the kidneys and liver, to the brain and feet. Pacha is a slowly cooked combination of stuffed sheep's stomach in a broth.

A typical Iraqi meal starts with a mezze . Soup is usually served next. For lunch and dinner, the meals are much alike. A simple main course, such as lamb with rice is served, followed by a salad and flat bread served buttered with fruit jelly on top.


Beef with Fruit

1 cup dried apples

1 cup dried apricots

2 pounds beef, cut into cubes

3 Tabs vegetable oil

1 Tab sugar

1 Tab cinnamon

1 teas black pepper

½ teas salt

cup tomato sauce  


Place the dried fruits in separate bowls and pour boiling water over them. Let sit for about 15 minutes, then drain.

In a frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the meat until browned. Add the prunes and cook on low, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Add the apples, apricots, seasonings, and tomato sauce. Stir well and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes. 



3 cups almond
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cardamon
2 tbsp rose water or orange blossom water
1 package fillo pastry

Grind the almonds and mix together with all the ingredients. The mixture should be moist.

Cut the fillo in 3 parts and cover with a damp towel. Take one piece of fillo and fold it about 2 inches from the bottom up. Insert a pencil in the fold. Put one tablespoon of the mixture and roll. Push the 2 sides to the middle and slide the pencil out. Bake in a preheated over at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, until light golden in color.


Stuffed Vegetables

3 tomatoes

6 sweet peppers

6 onion

4 c oil

4 c rice

1/2 c tomato paste

celery leaves, chopped

1/2 kg ground beef

1/2 c butter

Salt to taste

1/4 tsp chili powder

cabbage leaves


Wash all vegetables. Slice round the top of tomatoes and set aside, scoop out all pulp and put in a bowl. Do the same with sweet pepper. Reserve tops as cover.


Sprinkle some water inside tomatoes . Peel onions and cut lengthwize on one side . Press each onion between the palms of hands to separate layers. The smaller inner layers can be chopped.


Heat 1/2 of oil, saute onion until slightly tender, but not brown. Wash rice and add to onion . Add tomato paste, vegetable pulp, chopped onion, chopped celery and cumin seeds. In another skillet, heat remaining oil, add beef and fry till cooked. Add beef mixture to rice mixure. Add butter, salt, and chili powder. Mix very well. Fill onions, tomatoes and peppers with mixture and cover them with vegetable tops tightly, set aside.


Spread some cabbage leaves in a large and wide pan. Arrange first layer of stuffed onions, individually wrapped in cabbage leaves tightly. Arrange tomato layer on top of onions, repeat using sweet pepper . Cover vegetables with a very heavy plate and place another heavy weight on top of the plate. Pour 3 cups water into the pan and cook on medium heat for 30-40 minutes. Leave on very low heat for some time until done.


Cardamom Cookies

 2 cup All-purpose flour

1 teas  ground cardamom

½ teas salt

¼ teas baking powder

1 1/3 cup sugar

4 eggs

2 cups ground blanched almonds

rose water (optional)

around 3 dozens whole almonds 


Preheat the oven to 350* F/180* C.  Grease several large baking sheets.  Sift together the flour, cardamom, salt, and baking powder. Beat the sugar and eggs until light and creamy.


Stir in the flour mixture, then the ground almonds.  Form the dough into balls, moistening your hands with rose water, if desired. Place on baking sheets and flatten slightly. Press a whole almond into the center of each cookie.  


Bake until lightly browned about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.   


Tebeet - Iraqi Jewish Cholent


Ma'amoul - Stuffed cookies


8 cups flour
1 cup farina (cream of wheat or semolina)
3/4 cup oil
16 ounces margarine
11/2 cup rosewater
3 tbsp. baking powder

Melt margarine and add the rest of the ingredients. Blend well in a mixer. Divide dough into 12 balls . Take one ball at a time, and roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 of an inch. Makes about 30 to 40 .

Nuts Filling

2 lb. walnuts
1/4 cup sugar 
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. rosewater


Dates Filling

2 packages pitted dates
1 teas water
1 tabs oil
Pinch of cinnamon

Roll out one ball at a time until it is very thin. Cut into 31/2 or 4-inch circles with a drinking glass dipped into flour. Place 1 tbsp. of filling on the centre of each round.

Draw up the 3 sides to the centre to form a triangle. Prick the top with a fork. Place cookies in baking pan and bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar.


Chicken with red Rice

1/3 C oil
1.5 Kg chicken - cut to pcs
2 chopped onions
3 chopped tomatoes
salt & paper
1 teas paprika
2 tabs tomatoes puree
2 cups water
1.5 cups long rice

Heat oil in a large saucepan and fry chiken . Add onions until gold + tomatoes and fry for 5 min. Add chicken + salt, paper and paprika. Mix tomatoes puree with water and pour into the pan. Bring to boil and cook on a low heat for an hour or until chicken is tender and take out the chicken.

Add rice to pan and bring to boil. Cook on a low heat for 20 min. Add chicken and remove from heat.Leave to
stand for 15 min.  


Baharat Iraqi spice mix

2 ½ tabs mild paprika
2 tabls black pepper ground
1 ½ tabs cumin seed ground
1 tab each of coriander seed, cassia bark and cloves - all ground
½ teap each of green cardamom seed ground and nutmeg ground

Mix together. Store in an airtight jar, in a cool place.


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