The Iraqi Family Cookbook

The Iraqi Family Cookbook
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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!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tahini Cookies كعكة بالطحينة والسمسم

Tahini is a sesame paste that I use for making hummus, and other sauces. I decided to make these delicious cookies that resemble sugar or peanut butter cookies using tahini. You can use almond butter if you do not have tahini. You can find tahini in the Middle Eastern isle of the grocery store.

This recipe makes 20 cookies
¼ cup tahini
4 ounces butter, melted (1/2 stick)
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bow, put the butter, tahini, sugar, egg and whisk until sugar has melted. Add flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom and stir using a wooden spoon.
Take a small ball of the dough the size of a walnut. Roll it in your hands, and put on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. When done rolling, make an indention in the middle of the cookie dough and put a few sesame seeds. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove from oven and leave the cookies to cool before removing from pan. Store them in a Tupperware container lined with wax paper.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fig Jam-مربى التين

Figs are in season in mid August when they ripen and ready to pick. They are perishable, and plan to eat them within one day or store in the refrigerator for two days. You can also freeze them whole or cut in a half. Just arrange them on a parchment paper lined tray and put in the freezer for 3 hours. Then remove from the tray and store them in a freezer bag for later use. Use them for a smoothie, or cook them for making fig sauce to pour over goat cheese, cream cheese or plain yogurt.
I was fortunate enough to find purple figs in the Farmer’s Market. I purchased a few pounds for consuming and canning. I usually keep the figs whole before cooking them, but you can chop them and cook them for a spread.
2 pounds whole figs, rinsed and drained       
1 ½ cup of sugar
6 cloves cardamom
1 stick cinnamon
¼ cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
Place all the ingredients in the pot and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam that develops on top. Simmer the figs on low heat for 50 minutes. When figs are cooked, remove from heat and spoon in jars and seal the top. When the jars cool off, store in the refrigerator.

Whole green or yellow fig jam

Monday, June 30, 2014

Purslane Vegetarian Stew-Edible Weed Stew

This is an edible weed that grows wild in the yard. People unfamiliar with it weed it,
but we eat it. It makes very nutritious salads. The flavor is lemony and the leaves are meaty and delicious. It looks like the jade plant.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper or mixed spices
2 cups purslane, chopped (use leaves and thin stems)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Heat oil in a deep pan, and sauté the onions for 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and chopped tomatoes and water, and stir. Bring to a boil. Add purslane, and season with salt and spices and stir. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.

Serve as  soup with bread or with plain white rice.

Purslane Salads Recipes-سلصة البربين

This is an edible weed that grows wild in the yard. People unfamiliar with it weed it, but we eat it. It makes a very nutritious salads. The flavor is lemony and the leaves are meaty and delicious. It looks like the jade plant. 

During my weekly visits to the farmers market looking for purslane,  I was unable to find it. I mentioned my disappointment at work, and one pf my colleague surprised me with a big bag of purslane from her yard. I was so thrilled and promised to share the dishes I make with her.
This is a popular Summer green that we consume in Iraq, and we call it Berbeen.
Rinse it well, and make sure it is pesticide free. Use the stems as well as the leaves for these recipes.
Purslane Tomato Salad

1 cup purslane, chopped (use the thin stems and leaves)
1 large tomato, diced
2 Persian cucumbers, sliced
¼ cup of onion, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
 In a salad bowl, pour the olive oil and lemon and add salt, and stir. Add all the vegetables and stir. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
You can sprinkle 1 teaspoon of ground summac on it if you prefer. You can top the salad with feta cheese too.
Purslane Onion Salad
For this recipe, use sweet Vidalia onions.
1 onion, sliced
2 cups purslane, sliced
1 tablespoon sumac
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Put the onions in a small bowl and sprinkle salt and sumac over it and stir. Cover, and set aside for one hour to wilt and change color. Strain it (do not rinse it), and set aside.
In a salad bowl, put the purslane and add the onions. Pour the lemon juice and olive oil and stir. Sprinkle more ground sumac over it if you prefer.
Decorate with slices of tomatoes, and serve with chicken or kufta  kabobs.
Purslane Yogurt Salad

2 cups purslane, chopped (leaves and stems)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 clove of garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Put purslane in a salad bowl. In another small bowl, pour the yogurt, and add salt and garlic, and olive oil and stir. Pour the yogurt over the purslane and stir. Cover the bowl and store in the refrigerator. Serve with rice dishes

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Stuffed Eggplant (Sheikh Mahshi)شيخ محشي والباذنجان

Traditionally, we purchase small eggplants, cut them in half and core them to stuff them. Italian eggplants are medium side, meaty  but a little too large for stuffing.  I decided to cut them lengthwise and top them with meat filling.

2 Italian eggplants, cut lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
½ pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Arabian spice (Seven Spices,Syrian Spice)
1 tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup water
Heat oil in a pan. Put the eggplants cut side down. Leave it to cook for 10 minutes on medium heat until half way cooked. Turn eggplants to other side and add more olive oil to cook for five more minutes.( you could oil them and put the under the broiler of 10 minutes if you prefer).
In another pan, sauté the meat for 5 minutes and add onions, salt and spices. Cook for 5 minutes and add the tomato and tomato paste, and stir the mixture. Add water and simmer for 10 minutes.
In a deep Pyrex pan, pour ½ cup of water in the bottom of the pan. Scoop one tablespoon of the eggplant flesh and  arrange in the bottom of the dish. Arrange the eggplants. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of the meat filling on each half. Spoon some sauce in the Pyrex pan, and around eggplants.
Cover the pan with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 40 minutes.
Serve with plain white rice.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Swiss Chard and Chickpea Stew شوربة السلق

There are a variety of Swiss chards. In this recipe, I am using the chard with red stems. Make sure not to discard the stems. They are meaty, nutritious and delicious. I mention in the recipe the Arabian spice which is also called Syrian spice or Seven spices. It is sold in Middle Eastern grocery stores or just mix the ground spices to make the spice mix.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large bunch of Swiss chard, rinsed and sliced.
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed
1 teaspoon salt
1 /2 teaspoon Arabian spice(mixture of cinnamom,allspice,cloves,black pepper and ground cardamom)
Juice of ½ lemon
In a deep pan, heat the oil and sauté the garlic and onions. Add the stems of the Swiss chard and tomatoes. Add 1/2 of water and bring to a boil. Add the Swiss chard leaves and chickpeas. Season with salt and spices. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Add lemon juice, and stir. Remove from heat and serve in soup bowl, with toasted bread.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Potato Pie-Baked Potato Chap

This is a very delicious pie that you can prepare ahead and reheat it.We use this recipe to make small individual potato kibbis , and fry them in oil. This is an easier recipe, and much lighter. You need to use a Pyrex pie dish, 12 inches in diameter.

3 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)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the potatoes in the food processor and pulse until well mashed. Remove it from the processor and put it in a bowl. Add the cornstarch, breadcrumbs and salt. Mix by hand, and set aside.

Prepare the filling. Sauté the meat and add the onions and spices. When cooked, add salt and chopped parsley. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool.
Brush the pie dish with 2 tablespoons of oil. Take half of the potato mixture and press it down to cover the surface of the dish. Spread the meat filling on top and cover it with a layer of potato. Smooth the top of the pie and brush it with oil. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 30 minutes.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Easy Falafel Recipe

I enjoy eating falafel, but I do not make them as often as I like to eat
them. The traditional recipe calls for dry chickpeas or fava beans that are soaked in water overnight. The next day, you put the mixture with onion, garlic and herbs in the meat grinder. Then leave the mixture in the fridge for 24 hours, before frying them.
I tried a shortcut for falafel recipe and I know you will like it too.
Makes 1 dozen
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup green peas
½ cup parsley, chopped
½ cup cilantro, chopped
½ cup onion, chopped
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1 tablespoon semolina (a binder)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup vegetable oil for frying
If you are using frozen peas, put them in hot water to blanch for 5 minutes. Strain them, and set aside.
In a food processor, put the peas, chickpeas, onions, garlic and herbs and pulse 8 times. Add the salt, semolina, baking soda, and spices. Pulse a few times until well blended.
Remove from the food processor and place in a bowl. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
Heat oil in a skillet. Take a tablespoon of the falafel mixture and form a small patty. When you have a few falafel formed, gently drop in oil. Cook for 3 minutes until crispy. Turn the patties to the other side to cook. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel. Serve immediately or put them in a plastic container in the refrigerator.
Serve as an appetizer with yogurt and cucumber salad.