Iraq Vacation Trips
Iraq Culture - Cuisine

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Iraqi cuisine has a long history going back some 10,000 years - to the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians and Ancient Persians. Tablets found in ancient ruins in Iraq show recipes prepared in the temples during religious festivals - the first cookbooks in the world. Ancient Iraq, or Mesopotamia, was home to many sophisticated and highly advanced civilizations, in all fields of knowledge - including the culinary arts. However, it was in the medieval era when Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate that the Iraqi kitchen reached its zenith. Today, the cuisine of Iraq reflects this rich inheritance as well as strong influences from the culinary traditions of neighbouring Turkey, Iran and the Greater Syria area.

Some characteristic ingredients of Iraqi cuisine include - vegetables such as aubergine, tomato, okra, onion, potato, courgette, garlic, peppers and chilli, cereals such as rice, bulghur wheat and barley, pulses and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and cannellini, fruits such as dates, raisins, apricots, figs, grapes, melon, pomegranate and citrus fruits, especially lemon and lime. Other Iraqi culinary essentials include butter, olive oil, olives, tamarind, vermicelli, tahini, pistachios, almonds, honey, date syrup, yogurt and rose water, cheeses such as baladi, feta and halloumi, and herbs and spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, fenugreek, cumin, oregano, saffron, baharat, sumac and za'atar. Similarly with other countries of Western Asia, chicken and especially lamb are the favourite meats. Most dishes are served with rice - usually Basmati, grown in the marshes of Southern Iraq. Bulghur wheat is used in many dishes - having been a staple in the country since the days of the Ancient Assyrians.

Meals begin with appetizers and salads - known as Mezze. Some popular dishes include Kebab, Shawarma, Bamia, Quzi, Falafel, Kibbeh, Masgouf, and Maqluba. Stuffed vegetable dishes such as Dolma and Mahshi are also popular.


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