Iraqi Kurdistan cuisine is an eclectic mix of the foods of the region, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
When you think about Middle Eastern cuisine you’d probably think falafel, flatbreads, heaps of meat and fresh fruit & vegetables and in Kurdistan it’s no different. Owing to its diverse cultural mix, you can find cuisine from all over the Middle East in Kurdistan. You’ll be able to sample plenty of dishes inspired by their neighbouring countries including tastes from Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Armenia, and Syria
Kurdish meals are generally eaten while sitting on the floor, served on a small cloth placed in the centre of the room. Let’s take a look at traditional Kurdish meal times in more detail.
Breakfast in Kurdistan
A traditional breakfast in Kurdistan will typically involve lots of flat breads with your choice of cheese, honey, yogurts, a mixture of fruits and pretty much anything else you can put on a flatbread. Egg dishes such as omelettes are fairly common too. Breakfast is always washed down with a glass of homebrewed black tea or coffee.
Kurdistan Cuisine – Lunch
Lunch and dinners in Kurdistan tend to crossover and lot of the same dishes are served for both meals. Lamb and chicken are the primary meats but beef is also popular. One of the most popular ways of serving the meat for a quick stop lunch would be in Kebabs. You can find kebab vendors all over the Kurdistan region. The kebabs are usually served in a flatbread packed with your choice of fresh vegetables and condiments. If you fancy something vegetarian, you can always switch out the meat for falafel which is equally as delicious!
Kurdistan cuisine – Dinner
Just like lunch, dinner is packed full of meat – usually Lamb or chicken. A staple would be simmering vegetables or beans in the juices of the meat to create flavourful stews that will always be served with rice and some kind of flatbread. You’ll always find fresh salads using local produce served as a side dish too.
Some staples of Kurdistan cuisine would include:
Biryani – A spiced mix of rice and meat
Dolma – An assortment of vegetables stuffed in grape leaves
Kofta – Spiced meatball or skewers made from ground lamb or beef
Kibbeh – Egg-shaped patty made of bulgur and stuffed with meat
Black tea – A must-have drink with every meal. Usually home-brewed and very strong!
Western food is also available in the bigger cities, but, come on, who’s going to the middle east to eat burgers and fries?!
Drinking in Kurdistan
As with most other middle eastern countries, drinking isn’t really a part of the culture. However, in Iraqi Kurdistan alcohol is readily available. Liquor stores can be found just about everywhere in the cities of Erbil and Suleymaniyah, while bars are plentiful too.
For non-alcohol drinkers, just like pretty much everywhere in the middle east, tea or chai is the most popular tipple. You can find freshly brewed tea and coffee everywhere you go and sometimes it will be handed to you for free as a gesture of goodwill from the locals.