Food is important in the Iraqi culture. A host will offer their guest the best they have and if it’s a special occasion then they will go all out. Like if it’s a wedding, then it will be a banquet like no other. When you ask most people about a wedding and what they remember, it’s usually the beautiful bride and the amazing venue but that’s not the case for most Iraqis. They may have some fleeting memories of the venue and quite possibly the bride too but ask them about the food and they will remember every little detail. They can give you more detail than what’s needed on a crime scene. Yes, they will remember everything, what was tasty, what was missing and how much there was. Size and quantity are everything.
For that reason, the food must be perfect but while other cultures will spend hours choosing menu’s, Iraqis tend to have a set menu for weddings. So, lets go through the top 6 wedding dishes at every Iraqi wedding. By the way, Iraqis do not understand portion size and actually think it’s the height of rudeness to specify a portion to a guest. Everything must be served in a buffet style setting and in massive platters for guests to choose from. Ok let’s get into the details of these mouth-watering dishes.
The first is the Grand Quzi, the most important and central dish to any wedding menu. It’s a slow-roasted, stuffed whole lamb served on saffron rice. The lamb is stuffed with aromatic and spiced rice, vegetables, and nuts. It’s served on a fragrant saffron rice, generously sprinkled with toasted almonds, sultans and other nuts. We are talking fall off the bone meat here, its delicious.
Tepsi Baytinjan is a casserole dish and consists of layers of fried vegetables and meat with the star of the show being the aubergine. There are layers of onions, meat (could be lamb or chicken), potato, sweet peppers and tomatoes which are all baked in a delicious tomato-based sauce. The thinking is that the casserole and its source go perfectly with the Quzi and its rice. From experience, I can tell you it’s a perfect heavenly food match.
Dolma is a must for any self-respecting wedding buffet and the Iraqi version of this is actually one of the best. A true Iraqi Dolma has boiled chard wrapped into finger-lengths and stuffed onions. They are stuffed with minced lamb, rice, herbs and spices. Lamb chops are put into the bottom of the pot, then the stuffed onions and finally the stuffed chard fingers. That’s then all covered with tomato puree, pomegranate molasses and cooked slowly. Just so you know, dolma is the first dish that will ran out so be warned, it’s soo good.
Kubbat Burghur and Kubbat Haleb
Kubba is practically a national dish in Iraq and therefore would always be included at a wedding buffet. These little meat stuffed dumplings have many variations but the top two are Kubbat Mosul and Kubbat Haleb. The Kubbat Mosul consists of dough made from cracked Burghul wheat which is stuffed with minced lamb, onions, and spices. The Kubbat Haleb has a distinct yellow colour. It’s made with a rice and potato dough that’s stuffed with, again minced lamb but has the addition of sultanas and saffron which gives it the distinct colour. Both are very different but equally scrumptious.
Finally, the Baba Ganoush, which is often thought of as a side but it’s a dish in its own right. Its basically smoky chargrilled aubergines mixed with yogurt, flavoured with lemon juice and spices. Its just perfect to dip your bread or Kubbah into.
Now all these dishes are joined by a plethora of salads and sides but I hope I have given you enough info to know what to go for first. You don’t want to go home with food regret so make sure to taste it all and feast Iraqi style.
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