The Iraqi Family Cookbook

The Iraqi Family Cookbook
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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Zibibiya-New Year Soup

We usually make this soup for the New Year, and drop rice (kibbi-kubba) to cook in the soup.

1 pound stewing lamb with bones
10 cups water

1 tablespoon salt
1 cup dibis(date syrup)
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup pited dates
1 cup dried figs
1 cup dried apricots(optional)
2 tablespoon syrup
whole spices: 6 cardamoms,6 cloves,1 cinnamon stick, 6 allspice
1 tbs dried mint
1 tbs dried parsley

Place the stewing lamb and water in a big pot. When it comes to boil, simmer for 40 minutes until the lamb is tender. Add the dried fruit, syrup, salt and nuts. Reduce heat and simmer the lamb sauce for 30 minutes.

Drop the rice kibbi and boil for 20 minutes, until they rise to the top of the soup; add mint and parsley.
Happy New Year

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lamb Chickpea Soup-Shorba

1 pound lamb shank or stewing lamb
2 medium size onions, sliced
2 (15/1-ounce) cans chickpeas
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Arabic spice (mixture of clove, cinnamon, allspice and black pepper)
6 cups water
Wash the lamb and saute it in the pot for 5 minutes. Add onions, water, salt and spices. Bring the pot to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or until lamb is tender and falls off the bone.
Drain the chickpeas and add to the soup. simmer for 20 minutes; add more salt if needed.
If you are using dry chickpeas, soak them overnight in water. Drain the water and add to the meat and onions to cook together for an hour.
You can substitute the meat with chicken and you could add dried limes (noomi basra) to the soup to give it a sour flavor.
Serve it in soup bowls with toasted bread. You could place bread in a boul and ladel the soup ove the bread. Then we call it Thireed.
Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Coconut Macaroons-Joz il-Hind معجنات جوز الهند

For this recipe, you could add 2 tablespoons of rosewater if you prefer.
3 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconuts
4 large eggs (egg whites)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Put the coconut in a bowl and add flour, baking powder and cardamom. Whisk the egg white and add sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Pour over the coconut and mix by hand and shape into a walnut size balls.
Line a pan with parchment paper. Arrange the macaroons on the paper. Bake for 20 minutes
Remove the pan from the oven and leave the macaroons to cool for 10 minutes.
Make 3 dozens

Friday, September 21, 2007

Lamb Shank with White Beans Stew-Fasulia Beitha

4 lamb shanks

1 large onion chopped

1 pound white dry beans

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper or Arabic spice(Baharat)

2 dried limes (noomi Basra) optional

8 cups water

Soak the white beans in water overnight. Drain the beans. In a pot, saute the lamb shanks in oil. Add onions,water and beans and bring to a boil for 20 minutes. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. When shanks are tender, add tomato paste, noomi basra, salt and spices. Cook for 30 more minutes. You could add more tomato paste if needed.
Serve with white plain rice.
You can buy dried limes from Middle Eastern markets. Wash them before using them. Crush them and remove the seeds. Drop them in the soup and leave them to boil for 15 minutes. They will add a sour flavor to the sauce.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fresh Dates

Every Summer, during this time, I make a special trip to the Middle Eastern grocery store looking for fresh dates on the stem. They usually come in the market in mid August. They are crunchy and not too sweet. When I keep them on the kitchen counter for few days, the dates ripen and change color to light brown and taste very sweet.
Sometimes, I freeze a bag of them for use in the winter. These yellow dates turn light brown when I freeze them. They taste like candy!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Potato Kibbi-Potato Chap بطاقة جاب

You can make these kibbis and freeze them before frying or deep fry them and freeze them. Then you can reheat them in the oven before serving.

4 large Yukon Gold potatoes boiled
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
½ pound lean ground chuck
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Arabic spice or
a combination of(allspice, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves)
1 cup vegetable oil for frying

Place the potatoes in the food processor and pulse until well mashed. Place it in a bowl and add the cornstarch, breadcrumbs and salt, and set aside.

Prepare the filling. Sauté the meat in oil and add the onions and spices. When cooked, add salt and chopped parsley, and set aside to cool.
Form the potato patties
Take a small piece of potato the size of an egg. Form a cup in your hand and stuff the middled with the meat mixture. Close the pattie and flatten it. Make sure to wet your hands in vegetable oil while forming the patties. Place the patties on a tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze.

Heat oil in the pan and drop in the potato patties. Add more oil as needed. When golden brown, turn to the other side. Drain on paper towel. Serve hot as an appetizer.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Baked Fish-Samak Maskouf السمك المسكوف العراقي

We usually buy fresh fish and have the fish opend along the spine to lay flat in the tray. Do not remove the skin. You can cut off the head.
Wash the fish and salt the inside of the fish. Put it in the colander to drain for 30 minutes.

5 pounds whole fish (trout or blue fish)
1 large onion, sliced
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
5 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil for the pan
1/4 cup oil for the paste

Combine the tomato paste with the lemon juice, garlic, 1/4 cup oil, salt and spices to make a paste. Oil the baking pan and place the fish flat on the tray. Cover the cavity of the fish with the paste. Top it with the sliced tomatoes, onions and chopped parsley.
Place in the pan in a 400 degrees oven for 30-40 minutes.
Serve with plain white rice or saffron rice. Serve with pickels and Arabic salad.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Zucchini with Tomato Sauce (vegetarian)

Shijar bil Tamata

1 pound zucchini peeled and sliced
1 medium onion sliced
2 cloves of garlic sliced
1 tomato sliced
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
½ teaspoon salt
½ tteaspoon Arabic spice or a combination of allspice, cinnamon and black pepper
1 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil

Sauté the onion and garlic in oil for few minutes and add salt and spices and stir. Add the zucchini and sliced tomatoes and leave it to simmer for 5 minutes. Pour tomato sauce and water and leave it to simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with white plain rice.

We usually cook this dish with stewing lamb. You can boil the lamb for 40 minutes or until tender. Then add the onions, garlic, zucchini, tomato sauce, salt and spices. Simmer for 20 minutes and serve with white plain rice

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Okra with Lamb Stew- Bamya

This is a very popular dish in Iraq. When you serve it in soup bowl with bread, it is called Shourbat Bamya, which is okra soup.
1 pound fresh or frozen okra
1 pound stewing lamb or beef
2 teaspoons oil
1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, sliced
½ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups of water

Rinse the meat and drain in a colander. Heat oil in a pan and saute meat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, water and tomato sauce, and simmer on low heat for 40 minutes, until the meat is tender. Add the okra and salt. Cook in the sauce for 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Serve it with white plain rice.

When using fresh okra, make sure to cut off the stem side of the okra.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Date Nut Bread كيكة التمر

This is one of my favorite  breads. The combination of dates and cardamom is delicious! This bread taste even better the next day.
Date Nut Bread

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup chopped walnuts for topping
3/4 cup water
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Soak dates in 3/4 cup of water and microwave for 1 minute to soften it.
Beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl. Add butter, and water with dates and stir. Gradually add the flour, salt and spices as you stir the batter. Add the baking powder and baking soda and stir. Add walnuts and combine.
Line a bread pan with parchment paper. Pour the batter in the pan, and sprinkle ¼ cup of chopped walnuts on top. Place the pan in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

Leave it to cool for 15 minutes. Flip the bread pan on a wire rack to cool well. You can wrap it in foil and refrigerate it or freeze it for later use

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Yogurt Cucumber Salad سلاطة الخيار باللبن

1 large cucumber
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove of garlic crushed
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried mint, or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint

Peel cucumber and cut lengthwise. Remove the seeds and chop the cucumber. Add salt, yogurt, crushed garlic, mint and chopped parsley. Stir and place in a bowl in the refrigerator for few hours for the flavors to blend.

Serve with rice, bulgur or with kabob.

Bulgur Wheat Pilaf البلغر المصلاوي

We usually add bulgur to cooked chicken or lamb and they both finish cooking together. With this method, the outcome of this pilaf is sticky. I found a better way to cook bulgur and that is to drop it in boiling water for a few minutes and strain it to discard the starches, then add to the sauce or vegetables you have prepared to finish cooking together. The outcome is fluffy.

1/2 cup onions, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 cups water
1 1/2 cup coarse bulgur
1 teaspoon Arabic Spice( mixture of 7 spices)

Saute onion in olive oil and add salt, spices and tomato sauce. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
In another saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and drop the bulgur and stir. Cook for 10 minutes. Pour in the bulgur in a colander to drain. Add bulgur to the onions mixture. Add 1/2 cup of water and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff. Serve with yogurt cucumber salad or pickles.
You can use 1/2 cup chicken stock instead of water.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Cardamom pods are used in chicken soups and meat stews to replace bay leaves. Ground cardamom can be used to replace vanila extract. Use it in cakes, rice pudding and baklava.
We also add this aromatic spice in the tea and ground coffee for a sweet flavor and aroma. It is cheaper to buy the pods from Middle Eastern, Indian and other Asian grocery store. I prefer to grind my own cardamom and keep it in a a tight jar.

Add ground cardamom to tea leaves or ground Turkish coffee and enjoy the flavor.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Arabian Spices البهار العراقي

This spice is also called Syrian Spice or Seven Spices. You can find it at the Middle Eastern markets
½ cup black pepper
1 cup cinnamon sticks (darseen)
1 cup allspice (cababa)
10 pods of cardamoms (hail)
10 cloves (qrinfel)
3 pieces ginger root (zangabeel)
½ cup dried rose petals( optional)
3 nutmegs (joze al taybe)

We used to go to a special bazaar Shourja Market in Baghdad that has many vendors selling spices. We would ask the shop owner to measure these spices and grind them for us. Shop owners do have the Arabian spice already ground, but Mother preferred to have her spices freshly ground. She kept the ground spices in a tight jar.

If you  have ground spices in you kitchen cabinet, you can just mix 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 teaspoons allspice and keep the mixture in a tight jar. These  are the three major ingredients that you can add to your meat and vegetable dishes.