Iraqi Cuisine Posted by Transparent Language on Apr 26, 2010 in Culture
On a recent visit to my brother in Windsor, Ontario, we decided to have lunch at an Iraqi restaurant (مطعم عراقي). Windsor has a very large and diverse Arab population, and one can find many Arabic restaurants (مطاعم), stores, and other businesses whose owners are mostly from Lebanon (لبنان), Syria (سوريا), Iraq (العراق), Palestine (فلسطين) and Jordan (الأردن). Our lunch (غداء) at the Windsor Palace restaurant (مطعم قصر وندسور) was my first experience with Iraqi food (طعام), and I found it rich in flavors (النكهات) and absolutely delicious (لذيذ). I tend to think that the core of levantine food as being different variations of what is essentially the same food, and to some extent I found this true during my lunch. However, while the core ideas and ingredients (المكونات) may be the same, the preparation (تحضير), flavor, and presentation (تقديم) where vastly different.
Windsor Palace Restaurant – مطعم قصر وندسور
We started our lunch with cardamon (الهيل) flavored tea (شاي). My personal experience with cardamon was its use in food and dessert, and perhaps more commonly in Turkish coffee (Turkish coffee is the name we give to the coffee we drink in the Arab world, which is very similar to espresso). Usually, cardamon seeds are roasted and finely ground with the coffee beans. It seems only natural to use with tea, so I’m a little surprised that this was my first taste of cardamon flavored tea.
Cardamon flavored tea – شاي بنكهة الهيل
Our appetizers were a dish called Tarshe and a traditional Iraqi salad (سلاطة عراقية). Tarshe is pickled cabbage (ملفوف) leaves and sliced carrots slightly flavored with cumin (كمون) and curry (كاري) powder. It’s not unusual to use curry powder in Arabic cuisine, but I have never seen it used with pickled dishes. Pickled (مخلل) appetizers (مقبلات) are very common in Arabic food and they’re especially served with mezze dishes, or appetizer dishes, including humous (حمص), baba ghanoug, kebbe (كبة), and many more. After Tarshe we moved on to a traditional Iraqi salad which had chopped purple and romaine lettuce (خس), sliced tomatoes (طماطم) and cucumbers (خيار), finely chopped parsley (بقدونس), black olives (زيتون أسود), and boiled chick peas (حمص), all marinated in olive oil (زيت الزيتون), lemon juice (عصير الليمون), salt (ملح) and crushed garlic (ثوم).
Iraqi Salad – سلاطة عراقية
Our main course was two plates called Dolma and Qoozi. Dolma is a plate of hollowed oinions (بصل), courgettes (الكوسة), and grape leaves (ورق العنب), stuffed with rice (الأرز), ground beef (لحم بقر), and spices (توابل), slow cooked in a tomato garlic sauce with herbs and spices. It’s a flavor rich and smooth dish, and naturally heavy. Qoozi is a grilled (مشوي), whole lamb (خروف) leg served with a bed of rice with thin noodles (شعيرية). To compliment that we had a stew of Fasoolia (فاصوليا), which is white kidney beans stewed in an aromatic, thick tomato sauce (صلصة الطماطم) with herbs and spices.
Dolma, stuffed onions, grape leaves, and courgettes, cooked in tomato sauce – دولما: ورق العنب ، الكوسة ، والبصل المطبوخ في صلصة الطماطم
Qoozi, lamb thigh with rice – قوزي, فخذ الخروف مع الأرز
White kidney beans cooked in tomato sauce – فاصوليا مطبوخة في صلصة الطماطم
After enjoying all this delightful food we, unfortunately, had no room for dessert. But we did get a cinnamon and a strawberry flavored Chiclets to enjoy.
Cinnamon flavored chewing gum – علكة بنكهة القرفة
Strawberry flavored gum – علكة بنكهة الفراولة
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