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Iraq has arguably some of the most delicious food in the Middle East, and with such a long and dynamic history of interactions with neighboring countries and empires, its no wonder that the food of Iraq is as colorful as its people. Here are the top 10 best traditional Iraqi foods you need to try.
Easily one of the most recognizable Iraqi dishes, this is a slow-grilled fish famous because the Iraqi way of grilling it standing sideways and letting the fish cook in the flames and smoke from the side. Once finished, a generous amount of delicious sumac spice, fresh pomegranate seeds, and lemon are poured on top.
A succulent slow-roasted and stuffed lamb, this is always one of the most-loved dishes at any Iraqi festive event or family gathering. Taking almost an entire day to slow roast, the lamb is stuffed with aromatic and spiced rice, vegetables, and nuts. The result is completely out of this world!
This dish is one of the most popular, with each household having their own unique way of making it. A kind of casserole dish, tepsi baytinjan consists of flavorful fried eggplants wrapped around small spiced meatballs, all baked in a delicious tomato-based sauce.
This classic is one of the most common staples in any Iraqi household. A mixture of perfectly baked okra and tender lamb or beef in a spiced tomato-based stew, the textures and flavors of this dish can only be described as absolutely perfect.
A famous Iraqi dish served a lot during religious holidays or when a mosque is serving food, this is a gravy-based dish made from finely minced meat, lentils, lime zest, and numerous other spices all eaten with a side of warm rice. With its brightly colored orange-brown look and perfect texture, margat qeema can be addictive!
Originally a “peasant’s dish”, this is now loved by everyone in Iraq. The hearty dish consists of a layer of thick Iraqi bread at the bottom of the plate and a chicken-based broth poured over on top to soak the bread. Meat and vegetables are mixed with the broth.
This is also a broth-soaked bread dish, but this one’s considered a breakfast meal. With layers of broth-soaked bread, it is topped with oil-fried eggs, onions, and boiled beans. Just remember that the true way to eat this Iraqi-style is to dig in with your hands!
Another Iraqi breakfast dish but less heavy than tashreeb is makhlama, which is basically a large skillet of fried eggs, tomatoes, onions, and spices. The key is to have all the flavors blend together in one pan, which you then eat by scooping it up with pieces of warm and fresh Iraqi bread.
While many other Middle Eastern countries have variants of kibbeh–a mixture of burghul cracked wheat, minced meat, onions, and spices–the Iraqi version is a region-wide favorite. Known also as kubbah mosul because of the popularity of it from the Iraqi city of Mosul, this dish is a layered pocket of kubbah with different stuffings inside—from nuts to cheese to rice with minced meat, there is no shortage of creativity when it comes to Iraqi kubbah!
Although variants of dolma can be found across the Middle East, the Iraqi version of this is truly one of the best. Instead of the usual stuffed grape-leaf that is used in the more common versions of this, Iraqis use boiled chard wrapped into finger-length stuffings of minced meat, rice, nuts, and spices all covered with lemon zest—you’ll have a hard time putting these down!