The foods eaten by the people of Iraq

The culinary history of Iraq is rich and varied, reflecting the country's diverse cultures and complex history. Iraqi cuisine is deeply influenced by Mesopotamian, Persian, Arab, and even Ottoman traditions, making it one of the most fascinating culinary landscapes in the Middle East.

Native Ingredients and Traditional Foods:

  • Rice: A staple in many dishes, rice is often flavored with saffron, turmeric, and various spices.
  • Wheat: Used in a variety of bread such as "samoon," "khobz," and flatbreads.
  • Lamb and Chicken: Common meats consumed, often grilled, roasted, or stewed.
  • Fish: Particularly common in the south near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the Persian Gulf.
  • Legumes: Lentils, chickpeas, and fava beans are often used in stews and soups.
  • Dates: Consumed as a snack or used in desserts, and a significant export.
  • Vegetables: Tomatoes, eggplants, okra, and various squashes are commonly used.
  • Fruits: Figs, pomegranates, and citrus fruits are widely grown and consumed.

Persian and Ottoman Influences:

  • Kebabs: Grilled meats, often marinated, are popular.
  • Dolma: Grape leaves, peppers, or zucchini stuffed with rice, pine nuts, and sometimes meat.
  • Biryani: Influenced by both Persian and Indian cuisine, it's a spiced rice dish often made with chicken, beef, or fish.

Arab Influences:

  • Hummus: Chickpea dip flavored with tahini, lemon, and garlic.
  • Falafel: Deep-fried chickpea patties.
  • Baba Ghanoush: A dish made from grilled eggplants, tahini, and various seasonings.

Traditional Dishes:

  • Masgouf: A traditional Mesopotamian dish where fish is grilled on an open flame.
  • Quzi: Lamb stuffed with rice, raisins, almonds, and spices.
  • Tashreeb: A lamb stew with tomatoes, onions, and a variety of vegetables.
  • Pacha: A dish made from sheep's head, trotters, and stomach, all boiled slowly and served with bread and broth.

Sweets and Desserts:

  • Baklava: A pastry made of layers of filo, filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.
  • Kleicha: A traditional Iraqi cookie often filled with dates and nuts.
  • Znoud El-Sit: Rolls of phyllo pastry filled with cream.


  • Chai: Black tea is a popular beverage, often enjoyed throughout the day.
  • Jallab: A drink made from dates, grape molasses, and rose water.

Ritualistic and Religious Foods:

  • Harissa: Consumed during the religious month of Muharram, it's a dish made of barley and meat.
  • Fasting and Feasting: During Ramadan, special dishes are prepared for the breaking of the fast, like soups and sweets.

Modern Iraqi cuisine continues to evolve but retains its traditional essence, reflecting a confluence of cultural influences and age-old traditions.

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