20 Most Popular Foods from Iraq – Iraqi Cuisine

Iraqi cuisine draws from ancient Mesopotamian, Persian, Arab, & Ottoman influences. 

These 20 popular foods from Iraq showcase this exciting cuisine, celebrating flavour and love in every bite.

20 Most Popular Foods from Iraq – Iraqi Cuisine

Iraqi cuisine draws from ancient Mesopotamian, Persian, Arab, & Ottoman influences. 

These 20 popular foods from Iraq showcase this exciting cuisine, celebrating flavour and love in every bite.

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

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baklava Iraq

In the heart of the Middle East, Iraq borders several countries: Turkey to the north, Syria and Jordan to the west, Saudi Arabia to the south, and Iran and Kuwait to the east. 

You can expect the foods from Iraq to feature a variety of grilled meats, aromatic rice dishes, mouthwatering stews, tasty bread, and delicious desserts.

Lamb, beef, and chicken are commonly used proteins, often seasoned with spices like cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom. 

Rice and bread are staples of many meals, served alongside or mixed with meats and vegetables. 

Iraqi cuisine also includes herbs, pulses, and pickled vegetables. In Iraqi culture, hospitality is paramount. 

If you get the chance to visit Iraq, you will feel the genuine warmth of friendly locals everywhere.

20 Most Popular Foods from Iraq

1) Masgouf

masgouf national dish of Iraq

Masgouf is an ancient Iraqi dish featuring seasoned grilled carp, it’s also considered the national dish of Iraq. 

Its origins are traced back to the Babylonians and Sumerians, who sourced fish from the Tigris River.

To prepare, the fish is butterflied, marinated in olive oil, salt, tamarind, and turmeric, set on skewers, and grilled next to an open fire or charcoal stove until it’s crispy on the outside and soft and tender inside.

Masgouf is a fragrant dish that embodies Iraqi cuisine. It is usually served with vegetables, herbs, lemon, and rice.

2) Maqluba

maqluba Iraqi cuisine

Maqluba is popular dish from the Levant region, including Syria, Palestine, and Jordan, and it’s prevalent in Iraq. 

Its name translates to “upside-down” in Arabic, referring to the cooking method in which layers of rice, vegetables, and meat are cooked in a pot with a unique aroma of spices. 

Then, it’s flipped upside-down onto a serving plate for presentation; it’s quite an impressive dish.

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3) Makhlabi

Makhlabi

Iraqi cuisine includes some delicious sweets and desserts, and this is one of them. 

Makhlabi is a lovely, refreshing Iraqi dessert made from rice pudding, flavoured with rose water and topped with nuts, such as almonds or pistachios. 

It’s usually served cold and ideal for satisfying a sweet craving on a warm day.

4) Mujaddara

Mujaddara Iraqi food

Mujaddara is one of the beloved comfort foods in Iraq, cherished for its simplicity and warming flavour. 

This traditional dish in Iraqi cuisine features a flavoursome blend of lentils, rice, and caramelised onions infused with aromatic spices like cumin and cinnamon. 

It is typically served with a spoonful of thick, plain yoghurt or a squeeze of lemon juice to elevate the flavours.

5) Quzi

Quzi traditional foods from Iraq

Quzi is a cherished dish in Iraq that symbolises hospitality and generosity. It’s commonly served at festive gatherings and special occasions, bringing people together in celebration. 

Roasted lamb or goat marinated in an aromatic spice blend of spices, then slow-roasted until tender.

The meat is typically served on a bed of flavoured rice mixed with raisins, nuts, and fresh herbs.

6) Kubba

Kubba is one of the most popular foods in Iraq. It is made from bulgur (cracked wheat) dough and stuffed with minced meat, onions, and spices.

It is known throughout this region by different names; we’ve eaten it as we travelled in Lebanon and Syria; however, it is known as ‘kibbe’ here. 

And each time we return to Turkey, we tuck into ‘bulgur koftesi’, the Turkish kobeiba. 

Kubba is super tasty, but I love to eat them with dips such as hummus and baba ghanoush.

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7) Iraqi Dolma

Iraqi dolma

Iraqi Dolma, similar to Dolma found in other cuisines, such as North Macedonian cuisine, the foods from Azerbaijan, and Croatian cuisine to name a few.

Dolma consists of grape leaves, cabbage leaves or vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini, and capsicum stuffed with rice, minced meat (usually lamb or beef), and fragrant herbs and spices. 

Dolma are typically cooked in a flavoursome broth until ready. I like to enjoy dolma with a big dollop of yoghurt and some fresh bread, bliss!

8) Samoon

samoon Iraqi bread vendor

Samoon is a traditional Iraqi bread, with a soft fluffy texture, crusty exterior and slightly elongated shape. 

It’s usually baked in a wood-fired oven and can be enjoyed with various foods from Iraq, such as kebabs, stews, and yummy dips like hummus or baba ganoush. 

9) Qatayef

Qatayef foods from Iraq

Qatayef is a favoured dessert in Iraqi cuisine, especially during Ramadan. 

It is an Arabic pancake stuffed with nuts (pistachios, walnuts) or cream, fried or baked and then drenched in syrup, usually rose water or blossom water. 

While walking through the small streets of the Muslim quarter in Jerusalem, I saw these sweets and purchased a few because they looked so yummy.

Yes, it tastes as indulgent and delicious as it sounds. 

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10) Halawet el-Jibn

Halawet el-Jibn

We’ll keep rolling with these dessert foods from Iraq; they’re all so good! 

Halawet el-Jibn is a widespread dessert in Iraqi cuisine consisting of sweetened cheese rolled into thin, stretchy layers and filled with a creamy mixture made from semolina, sugar, and rose water. 

Often, this dessert can be served with crushed pistachios for added crunch and flavour.

11) Baklava

baklava in Iraq

Baklava is a delicious and popular dessert in Iraq and many other nations, especially Turkish cuisine.

It is heavenly, made with filo pastry layers, chopped nuts, such as pistachios or walnuts, and sweetened with syrup or honey. 

The pastry is baked until golden and crispy and soaked in fragrant syrup. 

The result is a delightful combination of flaky layers, crunchy nuts, and a sweet taste. 

Marty ordering baklava in Iraq
Marty ordering baklava in Iraq
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12) Hummus

Hummus is my favourite dip of all time, and it’s another dish found in Iraq and most other Middle Eastern countries. 

Hummus is prepared using fresh chickpeas, tahini (sesame puree), lemon juice, garlic, and salt. It’s then blended to create the most delicious, creamy dip.

In Iraq, hummus is often served with samoon, falafel, or as an accompaniment to other dishes. 

To sum up, it’s a real highlight of Iraqi cuisine. 

13) Mehalabiya

Mehalabiya
Mehalabiya – Dessert foods from Iraq. Credit: Wikipedia

Mehalabiya is a highly cherished Iraqi dessert, adored for its dreamy, creamy texture and soft flavour.

It’s a milk pudding thickened with rice flour and spiced with rose or orange blossom water. 

Garnished with freshly chopped pistachios or almonds and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, enjoy this dessert chilled.

We’ve eaten in every country – Read our 10 best countries for food lovers!

14) Tulumba

It’s a delicious dessert that you need to try. 

Tulumba is a dough, cut into small bite-sized pieces, deep-fried, and soaked in syrup.

These tasty little snacks are eaten cold, ideal alongside tea or strong coffee. You will find this sweet in other countries; I especially enjoyed them when exploring the flavours of North Macedonian cuisine.

15) Falafel

falafel vendor Iraq
Rach eating falafel foods from Iraq
Enjoying falafel sandwich with pickled vegetables and salad in Iraq

These small, deep-fried balls made of chickpeas, parsley, and onions are a staple in Iraqi cuisine.

Falafel is a popular food in Iraq and can be enjoyed with tahini sauce or hummus. 

Falafel is a common street food throughout the Middle East. It’s always best when it’s just been taken out of the fryer, so try ordering it freshly cooked from your street food vendor or storefront.

16) Margat Bamia

margat bamia is foods from Iraq

This popular dish from Iraq is a tomato-based stew, with the hero of the dish being okra. 

The okra is simmered until tender, absorbing the rich flavours of the sauce while maintaining its distinct texture. This dish can also include pieces of lamb or beef.

Margat Bamia is one of the most comforting dishes in Iraqi cuisine, often served with rice or bread.

17) Timman Bagilla

Timman Bagilla Wikipedia
Timman Bagilla. Credit: Wikipedia

Timman Bagilla is a classic Iraqi dish featuring rice, fresh dill and fava beans as its main ingredients.

Whether served plain or with juicy chicken, lamb, or other meats, it’s an adaptable and satisfying dish cherished in Iraqi cuisine.

As many foods from Iraq are heavy on meat and proteins, I prefer this meat-free dish with a dollop of yoghurt or a salad.

18) Kunafeh

Kunafah is a popular dessert in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries.

This incredible sweet dish is made with two crispy layers of kataifi pastry, soaked in sugar syrup and rose water and then filled with clotted cream or ricotta cheese. 

The filling is flavoured with cardamom and orange zest. 

Kunafah is served warm and is one of my favourite foods from this region of the world.

19) Kleicha 

Kleicha wikipedia
Kleicha are popular treats in Iraq. Credit: wikipedia

Kleicha, an Iraqi holiday treat, is often baked for special occasions like Eid, weddings, or birthdays. These cookies are prepared from a blend of flour, butter, yeast, and aromatic spices, including cardamom, fennel, and nigella seeds.

Traditionally, it is filled with a walnut mixture, combining walnuts, sugar, and cardamom, or a date filling made with dates, butter, cardamom, and cinnamon.

These treats are fantastic on their own or alongside some fresh Iraqi tea.

20) Kebab

kebab foods from Iraq
man cooking kebab iraq pickled vegetables
Our kebab chef and pickled vegetables that is served with many foods from Iraq

For all the meat lovers, you will enjoy eating kebabs in Iraq. They’ve perfected the exact level of fat and spices in the meat.

These are pieces of marinated meat (lamb, veal or chicken) threaded onto a skewer or minced meat moulded around the metal skewer that is chargrilled until it’s perfectly cooked.

The best part is the smoky taste of the cooked kebab, followed by the fresh bread, rice, salads, herbs, and dips served alongside the kebab. 

Rach eating Iraqi cuisine
I love Iraqi cuisine!

We’ve reached the end of our list of the most popular foods from Iraq. Have you tried Iraqi cuisine before? Tell us you favourite Iraqi dish in the comments below.

Interested to know if it’s safe to visit Iraqi Kurdistan? This post gives you some answers.

If you’re interested in visiting Iraq, we recommend joining a group tour with Saiga Tours.

Travel Tips for Asia

We have many travel guides and tips for Asia— a fascinating continent!

Delicious cuisine can be enjoyed across Asia, and our food map of Asia will inspire your food journey.

These top 5 best street foods in Asia are unmissable! We explain Central Asian food, including seven popular foods in this region.

Our Southeast Asia packing list will be helpful if you’re travelling here.

Furthermore, if you plan to travel long-term (or at least until the money runs out), these 21 cheapest countries to visit will help you make your hard-earned dollars stretch a bit further.

Not surprisingly, our top 10 best countries for food lovers include a few Asian countries.

You’ll need to stay connected while travelling in Asia. We recommend eSIM. It’s easy, reliable and affordable. View eSIMs for individual Asian countries, or consider a regional eSIM for Asia (which covers 18 countries).

If your travels in Asia are part of a much larger global adventure, then a Global eSIM may be the answer. It connects you in 124 countries, offering data-only eSIM and data/call/text eSIM. The Global eSIM has been a game-changer; we couldn’t imagine travelling without it now.

If you want to travel with like-minded travellers, consider joining a group tour. View the best deals on group tours in Asia.

Check out our best-ever travel tips compiled from more than twenty years of experience.

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