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The Iraqi Family Cookbook

The Iraqi Family Cookbook
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lamb Kufta with Potatoes, كفتة بالبطاطة

This is a very popular dish that we bake in the oven. You can cook it on top of the stove in a deep pan.

Serves 4
1 pound ground lamb or beef
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Arabian spice(bahar)
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 large russet potato, peeled
1 large tomato
1 ( 14.5-ounce can) diced tomatoes 
1/2 cup water

In a bowl, put the ground lamb and add the garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and spice and mix by hand. Shape the meat into small balls and press each ball to make patties, and set aside.

Slice the tomato in half and slice in 1/4 inch slices, and set aside. Slice the potato in 1/4 inch sliced and cut each slice in a half. Slice the onion very thinly.

Open the tomato can and pulse the tomatoes in the food processor to make a purée.

In a deep Pyrex dish, pour 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Make a stack of meat, potato, onion and tomato slices. Arrange side by side in the pan. When all meat and slices are arranged, pour the water and the rest of the tomato sauce. Season with salt and more spices if desired.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes in 350 degrees F. Oven. Remove from oven, uncover and bake for15 more minutes. 

Serve with plain white rice, and salad.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Stuffed Vegetables- Dolma-دولمة

This is a traditional dish that we usually prepare in the weekend or when we have a big gathering. You can use the seasonal vegetables for this dish. During Winter we replace the grape leaves with Swiss Chard.

6-8 Servings
2 green peppers, top off, and seeds removed  
3 zucchinis, peeled and, cut in a half
3 small Italian eggplants, cut in a half
2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 pound ground lamb or beef
1 cup white rice
1 small onion, chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
1 cup tomato sauce, divided
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Arabic Spice
1 (16-ounce) jar grape leaves
1 1/2 cup water

Core the inside of the zucchini and eggplant and set the flesh aside.
 Salt the insides of the vegetables with 1 teaspoon of salt, and place in a strainer to drain for 30 minutes.
Combine the meat, rice, lemon juice, garlic, onions, and half a cup tomato sauce, 1 remaining teaspoon of salt, and spices. Stuff the vegetables and arrange side by side in a deep pan or pot.
To stuff grape leaves, place one tablespoon of the filling in the center. Fold the sides to the center and fold the leaf over and roll lightly. Arrange them on top of the vegetables with the seem down.
If you are using fresh grape leaves, put them in boiling water to soften them for 5 minutes before stuffing.
Arrange the stuffed grape leaves on top of the vegetables. Pour the tomato sauce and water on top.
Place a fruit plate on top of the vegetables to keep them submerged. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a medium. Cook for 30 minutes, covered, until rice is cooked.
To serve, cover the pot with a tray or a large platter, and flip the pot on the tray. Serve it with bread and yogurt cucumber  salad/

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Baklava-Baklawa بقلاوة خفيفة و لذيذة

Today, I started baking for the Holidays. I made this delicious tray of baklawa. It is a very light recipe, NOT loaded with syrup. Check out this website for the recipe, plus other iraqi cookies that I baked during a TV show.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mung Beans Soup-شوربة ماش

Mung beans are very healthy and nutritious. We cook mung beans with rice. I decided to make a vegetable soup with these beans. Soak beans for a few hours before you start cooking. If you have not done that, pour hot water over the beans and set aside for 30 minutes.


1 cup mung beans soaked in water for 12 hours
4 cups water
1/2 cup white rice
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dried mint
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Rinse the beans and discard water. Heat water in a deep pot and drop the beans. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 20 minutes. Skim off the mung beans green skin that float to top and discard.
Add rice and all the vegetables, and cook for 20 minutes until rice is cooked. Season with salt and pepper and stir.
Add the lemon juice and taste to adjust the salt and pepper. 
You can add chicken stock and diced chicken if not vegetarian.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Roasted Leg of Lamb

This is an aromatic and delicious recipe that my family always enjoy. Sometimes I add crushes tomatoes while baking, but not in this recipe. You can always add it to the pan instead of adding 1/2 cup of water.When you purchase the boneless leg of lamb, it is wrapped in a net to keep a nice shape of the lamb.
Remove the net and rinse the lamb under cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels. Place it on a cutting board and follow the directions.
In my recipes, I mention the Arabian Spice which is a combination of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and black pepper.
1 (3 pounds) lamb, boneless
6 cloves garlic
6 whole cardamoms
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice
1 stick of cinnamon, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Arabian Spice (7 spices or Syrian Spice)
2 table spoons salt
2 onions, slices
3 large potatoes, sliced
Preheat oven at 400 degrees F.
Trim off the layer of fat, but keep a little to crisp up while roasting. Make 1-inch slits in the lamb. Make
clusters of cardamom and garlic, or cinnamon and garlic and insert in these slits.
Brush the lamb in oil and season with salt and Arabian spice. Arrange the potatoes and onions on a
baking pan. Lay the lamb over the potatoes, and pour ½ cup of water. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees  F.. Remove from the oven and cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 90 minutes. Remove from oven and uncover. Bake in the oven for 30 more minutes to crisp up the top.
Remove from the pan and serve on a platter surrounded by the potatoes. Pour in some of the juices over the lamb.Skim off the fat before serving.

Serve with saffron rice.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Feta Cheese Spread

Feta cheese is a staple in my house. I use it for salads, sandwiches and in pastas. You need to preserve it in salt water and store in the refrigerator. It is often salty cheese.To serve, soak it in cold water for 20 minutes and drain it before slicing. In the following recipe, I added cottage cheese to the crumbled feta to cut down on salt. There are different varieties of feta that are imported or domestic that you need to try until you find the brand you like to purchase.

1 pound feta block
½ cup low fat cottage cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried mint or zaatar
In a bowl, crumble the cheese and stir in the cottage cheese. Sprinkle mint and drizzle olive oil and stir.
Serve in a small salad bowl and garnish with mint or black olives. Serve with pita chips or crackers.

For this recipe, you can add 1 clove of crushed garlic to the spread if you desire.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Baked Butternut Squash

This is an autumn vegetable that we use in so many dishes, such as soups, stews with lamb and others.
I purchased butternut squash whole, peeled it with a potato peeler, scooped the seeds out and sliced it.
You can purchase the squash already cubed in 1-inch size.
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1teaspoon ground cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
¼ cup cranberries
¼ cup walnuts
Preheat oven 400 degrees F.
Put the squash in a bowl and drizzle olive oil. Season with salt, spices and stir. Spread squash on a baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until tender. Allow to cool, and arrange in a deep dish. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, cranberries and walnuts.  
This makes a good side dish with chicken or lamb.  Enjoy!