Iraqi Cuisine: Local Dishes, Restaurants & Traditional Recipes

Iraqi Cuisine: Local Dishes, Restaurants & Traditional Recipes

Iraqi Cuisine: Local Dishes, Restaurants & Traditional Recipes

When it comes to Iraqi cuisine, you're in for a treat that showcases a fusion of flavors from various cultures, including Persian, Turkish, and Arab influences. The country's rich culinary heritage offers a delightful assortment of dishes that will tantalize your taste buds. From hearty stews to fragrant rice dishes and flavorful grills, Iraqi cuisine has something for everyone. Let's delve into the highlights of this gastronomic adventure.

Traditional Dishes

1. Maqluba (Upside-Down Rice): This iconic dish is made with layers of meat (usually chicken or lamb), vegetables, and rice cooked in a pot. Once cooked, the pot is overturned onto a serving platter, giving it its distinct presentation.

2. Tashreeb: Tashreeb is a traditional Iraqi bread and meat stew. Pieces of bread are soaked in flavorful broth, usually made with lamb or chicken, and served alongside tender meat.

3. Kebab: Iraqis take their grilled meat seriously, and kebabs are a prime example of this. Whether you prefer skewers of succulent lamb, beef, or chicken, Iraqi kebabs are marinated with aromatic spices and grilled to perfection.

4. Dolma: Dolma refers to stuffed vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, and zucchinis. The filling typically consists of rice, ground meat, and an array of herbs and spices, giving it a burst of flavors.

5. Kubba: Kubba is a popular dish made of ground meat mixed with bulgur wheat or rice, formed into dumplings, and then either fried or cooked in a savory broth.

Must-Try Restaurants

If you're visiting Iraq and craving an authentic taste of the local cuisine, here are some standout restaurants to consider:

  1. Al-Masgouf Al-Shaabi - Located in Baghdad, this restaurant is known for its delicious masgouf, a traditional Iraqi grilled fish dish.
  2. Al-Masri - A popular spot in Erbil, this restaurant offers a wide range of Iraqi and Middle Eastern dishes, with kebabs being a specialty.
  3. Al-Najaf Restaurant - Situated in Najaf, this establishment is renowned for its mouthwatering Iraqi stews and kebabs.
  4. Shanashel Restaurant - Found in Basra, this restaurant serves a variety of Iraqi seafood dishes, including shrimp and fish grilled to perfection.
  5. Laith Restaurant - Located in Mosul, this restaurant is famous for its succulent kebabs and traditional Iraqi breads.

Traditional Recipes

If you'd like to bring a taste of Iraq into your own kitchen, here are a couple of traditional recipes to try:

Recipe 1: Chicken Maqluba


  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 eggplants, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste


  1. Season the chicken pieces with salt, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, and black pepper.
  2. In a large pot, sauté the onions until golden brown. Add the chicken pieces and cook until browned on all sides.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pot. In the same pot, layer the sliced carrots, eggplants, and rice.
  4. Add water until it covers the rice by about an inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.
  5. Let the pot cool slightly, then carefully invert the pot onto a serving platter, allowing the rice to form the top layer.
  6. Serve hot and enjoy!

Recipe 2: Lamb Kebabs


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground lamb, grated onion, minced garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  2. Using your hands, mix all the ingredients together until well combined.
  3. Divide the mixture into small portions and shape into long kebabs around skewers.
  4. Grill the kebabs over medium heat until cooked through and slightly charred, around 5-6 minutes per side.
  5. Serve hot with a side of rice or flatbread.

Enjoy Iraqi Cuisine!

From the aromatic spices to the delightful blend of flavors, Iraqi cuisine is a culinary journey worth embarking on. Whether you decide to explore the local restaurants or recreate traditional recipes at home, you'll experience the heart and soul of Iraq through its delicious food.