Feasting in Iraqi Kurdistan

IMG_2180Being invited into someone’s home when you’re on the road is always the most memorable meal of the trip.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, on the road from Erbil to Kirkuk, a local leader had us over for lunch – a multi-course feast prepared by his wife and daughters, and laid out on the floormat by his sons. Kurdish — and Iraqi — food is like much of what you’d find in the Middle East: grilled meats, grains and rice, giant fluffy footprints of naan, various stewed and fresh vegetables.


The highlight of the meal was a Kurdish specialty called burgul, a dish of bulgur wheat (or wheat berries) tossed with sweet raisins, chickpeas, and baked almonds, topped with stewed lamb or grilled chicken. It was salty, sweet, and hearty, with a beautiful nutty flavor and is probably simple to replicate at home. We were also served a small couscous tossed with threads of rice and chicken, and a heaping pile of white rice ringed with small raisins and topped with chicken legs.


As we sat on the floor, eating with spoons, our fingers, or fistfuls of naan… boys circulated with waters, sodas, and aryan, a fermented yogurt drink that was both salty and smoky.  We supplemented our meat/carb intake with plates of fresh, unadorned salad vegetables and bowls of stewed potato in a tangy tomato sauce (as the one Irish girl who doesn’t love potatoes, I simply dipped the naan in the sauce).


Once the meal was over, the floor was cleared, we moved up to sit on the couch ringing the room, and ate local fruit: plums, apricots, crabapples and the smallest, sweetest grapes around. And there was tea. Always, in Iraq, there is tea.

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3 Responses to Feasting in Iraqi Kurdistan

  1. boundbyflame.co.uk June 21, 2014 at 9:16 am #

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  2. Jason July 24, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    Erin!!!!!!!!!! Love this!!!!!! Is that your pistol? I love the handle. Beautiful imagery and description as always. This meal reminds me of a time I spent in Albania years ago dining and reclining on the floor for hours until I was nearly falling asleep. Such wonderful memories. I’m soooo hungry now — thanks 😉 Catch up soon.

  3. fishinglovers.net February 27, 2015 at 11:53 pm #

    I cannot thank you enough for the article.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool.

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