Last updated on September 27th, 2023 at 12:38 am
If you’re a fan of Iraqi food, then you’re in for a treat. Iraqi recipes are a tantalizing mix of flavors, ingredients and cooking styles, making them some of the most unique Iraqi foods found in this region. In this article, you’ll learn about the most popular Iraqi recipes, the history behind them, and how to make them using traditional cooking techniques.
We’ll also be sharing a few lesser-known Iraqi recipes from local cooks, so you can expand your repertoire of Iraqi foods. According to a recent survey of popular Iraqi chefs, a staggering 92% of respondents said cooking is the most commonly used form of expressing love and gratitude in their culture. So, if you’re ready to bring some Iraqi flavor into your kitchen, keep reading and get cooking!
From kafta kebabs with sumac onions to warm, hearty stews and zesty yogurt dips, this tantalizing collection of Iraqi recipes will take you on a culinary adventure. Here, you’ll discover the best of regional Iraqi foods.
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Murag literally means meat stew but this is the Iraqi version of the famous Middle Eastern meat stews. A vegetable is usually added to the stew and the popular choices of the region are okra, eggplant, green beans or peas. It is usually served with rice and then the combination is referred to as Timman Murag. (Adapted from the cookbook)
Apart from learning a great meat stew Iraqi recipe, I also got to discover a new spice blend called Baharat which is used in Iraqi food. A new one to add to my spice collection.
Iraqi Jews serve rice-stuffed chicken, called t’beet, for Shabbat lunch. Like cholent and hamin, the Iraqi food is cooked at a very low temperature for many hours (typically overnight) until the chicken is falling off the bone and the spiced tomato rice is deeply infused with savory flavor. It also makes lovely picnic fare.
The Iraqi food is seasoned with baharat, a multipurpose spice blend used across the Middle East, including in Israel, to flavor meat, vegetable, and rice Iraqi foods, as well as soups and stews. Like most blends, the Iraqi recipe for baharat varies from cook to cook, but typically includes some combination of black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, and coriander.
Iraqi date cookies called Kleicha are considered to be the national cookie of Iraq. Iraq is one of the top three producers of dates in the world. This is a traditional Iraqi recipe and there are many variations. The dough comes out like a puff pastry and the cookie reminded me of nazook, which was one of my favorite desserts from Armenia.
This Iraqi recipe is pretty quick and easy and if you have any left you can freeze them. They are pretty darn tempting though right out of the oven. We enjoyed them with hot cup of black tea. A perfect ending to our Iraqi meal.
This is a filling and delicious soup I was introduced to many years ago in Israel. I loved both this version and there is a beet broth version as well that I also love. However, since I make chicken stock often and often, this is much easier for me to whip up, beets not so often being on the menu at home.
This is wonderful both on a cold winter’s night or especially lovely for Shabbat dinner. It is filling enough that it could be the main part of your dinner. In fact you can serve it with some bread or rice on the side and you’ve got a full meal.
Iraqi breakfast. Yes, it’s a little different. Iraqis have a couple dishes that aren’t quite like the Palestinian ones I’m used to [see below for my faves]. One of which is Bagila bil Dihin. It sounds like a heart attack, since the translation is “beans with fat.”
In reality, it’s just Fried Eggs over Broad Beans over soaked pita bread and topped with hot oil. Bagila is the Iraqi word for beans, broad beans or lava beans to be exact. Aside from Bagila bil Dihin, they also have a sweet Iraqi food called Kahi and Geymar. What is it exactly? It’s layers of flaky pastry drowned in a sweet syrup topped with clotted cream. I used the Iraqi recipe from Sara over at Add A Little Lemon.
It’s delicious and super easy to follow. Trust me, you’ll love it with some freshly brewed tea.
Basturma (basterma) is a highly seasoned and dried sausage that’s popular in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. In Iraq, this pastrami predecessor is usually served for breakfast with eggs. I’ll show you how to make it the traditional way and the quick, easy way.
Traditionally, basturma is made with veal but you can also use ground beef or lamb. There are various ways to make basturma in the Middle East. It’s popular in many countries, including Iraq, Greece, Armenia, Turkey, Egypt, etc.
In some countries, basterma is prepared with a roast, such as an eye of round roast. The roast is brined, then covered in a thin paste made with spices called “chairnen” or “chaman.” This delicacy is cured and served sliced against the grain.
A persian influenced tea which is slowly brewed with some spice which gives the tea decoction and nice flavor. Iraqi Chai is one of the specialties of Hyderabad. This was first introduced by Persians & soon evolved in the city of Hyderabad. Surroundings of Charminar has great tasting Irani chai with uniqueness in its taste. slowly brewed spices gives the tea decoction and nice flavor.
Serve the Iraqi Chai with Fruitcake cookies, Jeera biscuits or Khara biscuit on the side to enjoy your evening snack with your loved ones.
This sweet and tangy Middle Eastern stew, with falling-apart-tender lamb, is one of wordsmith and perfect host Jesse Sheidlower’s favorites. He found it in Nawal Nasrallah’s Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and a History of the Iraqi foods.
“It’s a fantastic though little-known cookbook,” Sheidlower says. “It’s incredibly extensive and provides a lot of cultural and historical background. And it’s good to keep in mind that all of this Iraqi culture and history is getting destroyed.”
For the unfamiliar, amba is a fermented mango condiment popular in Iraqi food. It is a little sour, a little spicy, and (if fermented) a little funky. For a time Trader Joe’s carried a pre-packaged amba, and I happily purchased this for our family’s sabich nights (sabich being an Iraqi sandwich featuring fried aubergine / eggplant), until it was recently discontinued and thus I started to make my own.
It is similar to the Southeast Asian ‘achar’, and a distant, more savory cousin to the Indian mango chutneys ever-prevalent in my British upbringing. Unripe mango is combined with chili, garlic, and spices like fenugreek, cumin, coriander, and turmeric to make a brightly colored and deeply spiced condiment that pairs beautifully with meat or vegetables.
Kibbeh is a popular appetizer in Iraq and across the Middle East. There are almost as many ways to make it as there are spellings. Traditionally the shell may be made with bulgur or white rice dough (I used bulgur), stuffed with ground meat mixture called qeema, and shaped into a oval.
The version I made is a pretty traditional qeema made with lamb, parsley and onion. The kibbeh is then either boiled, baked, fried or eaten raw, but the latter is probably a bit risky for a supper club. It can also be prepared in broth (similar to the kyufta I made from Armenia) or in casserole form.
Shish kebab is one of the most emblematic Iraqi foods of Middle Eastern cuisine, found throughout the former Ottoman Empire and is highly appreciated in Iraq where it is flavored with sumac, cumin and paprika.
It’s prepared with metal skewers on which minced lamb or beef meat is mounted. These skewers can be garnished with onions, parsley and tomatoes to give them even more flavors.
Shish kebab are sprinkled with fresh parsley and served with grilled vegetables such as tomato or bell pepper pieces. These vegetables are never skewered and cooked with the meat but are cooked separately. Shish comes from Turkish which means “sword” or “skewer”, kebap comes from Arabic and means “roasted meat”.
Iraqi potato chap is a delicious little appetizer. This Iraqi recipe makes quite a bit so it can also be made into a casserole. This Iraqi recipe calls for the kubbi to be fried, and be sure to save a few to add to the turnip soup if you are making the whole Iraqi meal. However you choose to enjoy it, these are basically mashed potatoes that surround minced meat which can be either beef or lamb. A meat and potato lovers dream. Enjoy!
Samoon is a popular flatbread from Iraq that has a beautiful crust. Made with whole grain and topped with sesame seeds, this is a great bread to be served with soup. Looking for a Iraqi recipe to bake with the alphabet S for my A to Z International Flatbread series,
I had quite a bit of options. What attracted me about this particular bread, Samoon | Iraqi Flatbread, is the shape of the flatbread. I loved the diamond puffy shape of the bread and thought this will be something the boys will like to eat with some soup. I was looking to make this for dinner, but realized that we had music class at our place on that day and kids would be coming home.
These speedy spiced kebabs are traditionally served with a pickled mango sauce, but we think they’re ace with straight-up mango chutney
Traditionally these killer kebabs would be served with a sauce called amba, which is made from pickled green mangos. I have used a good-quality mango chutney instead. In the kebab mixture, try to avoid any big lumps of mango, saving them for serving.”
“Masgouf” is Iraq’s National Dish. The word “Magouf” means “covered” in Arabic so this Iraqi recipe really lives up to its name! Fresh carp is butterflied and smothered in a delicious spicy tomato sauce and cooked suspended over hot coals. Assyrians don’t generally cook a lot of seafood dishes, at least not in my extended family. However, I’m very glad that Masgouf was an exception, which is always served over a bed of Vermicelli Rice.
“This is another “layered” (m’tubuq) rice dish from Iraq. It’s a little work cleaning the fava beans but it can be done while watching TV. Very tasty! The Iraqi recipe is a high source of protein with or without meat. I make it w/o meat (if you prefer meat, it should be lamb). Since I’ve never really measured, the amounts are approximate and I use a rice cooker but it’s not necessary, just convenient.
You can replace the fava beans with baby lima beans if fava isn’t available. Fava beans are so much tastier than lima beans, though. You should be able to find them at a produce market or Middle East grocery store.
I buy the fresh and double peel them, i.e. remove the large cottony outer pod then remove the shell or skin around each bean. They are also available canned and ready to cook but I still take off the little thin shell around each one.”
I am Syrian married to a Lebanese and living in Beirut. I am a mother of 3 children and a grandmother for 4 children. One of my daughters lives in Dubai, she loves my Iraqi food and is always asking for Iraqi recipes. This is how at my age, I entered the internet to be able to send Iraqi recipes to my zeina, and of course chat with her when she is free.
I also started adding Iraqi recipes on shahiya instead of emailing them to her, this way she could also show them to her friends… Every Saturday, the whole family comes to my home for Lunch. I usually prepare food for the babies and Iraqi food for the parents. on average I prepare 3 different choice of main Iraqi foods, salad, and dessert, we end up with more than 10 Iraqi foods on the table sometime.
This is no pb for me, I don’t care if it takes me 10 hours to cook as long as my family enjoys the Iraqi food. I can cook nearly all Iraqi foods, and thanks to my Iraqi neighboord warda, I have become famous for my Iraqi recipes. Iraqi foods I am famous for: Shiekh al Mahshi and Fatet el Batenjan
Iraqi dolma is famous throughout the middle east as one of the most delicious types of dolma you’ll eat. Vegetables, stuffed with seasoned rice and vegetables and cooked in a tomato broth. There are so many versions of dolma just within Iraq (let alone outside of Iraq), and I love them all. But I’m going to share the one near and dear to my heart; my mom’s dolma.
Quzi (Arabic: قوزي), also called qoozi or ghozi or al-quzi or al qawzi is one of the most popular Iraqi foods of Iraq, the Persian Gulf and Turkey.
It is prepared with rice, as well as lamb that is cooked for a very long time, and is garnished with almonds, raisins, potatoes and eggs.
One of the simplest Middle Eastern stews to make, this Lebanese spinach stew- sabanekh- is made with spiced ground beef, frozen spinach, and a squeeze of lemon juice. It’s so easy and healthy, and kids love it too!
Fire up your grill to whip up this grilled chicken Iraqi recipe! Tender chicken is coated in a homemade Middle Eastern-inspired spice rub, then grilled for charred and delicious results. It’s the ultimate barbecue Iraqi food!
Local Iraqis call this dish, Djaj Bil-Bahar Il-Asfar, named for bahar asfar (yellow-spice), the feisty spice rub that’s used to season the poultry. It is believed that the spice blend was brought to the Middle East via the Silk Road trade route coming from South Asia.
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