By Raghad Al Safi: “This sticky, starchy, sugary slice was originally created at the request of a Sultan attempting to appease his many wives; Pablo Picasso used to eat it daily to aid his creative concentration; and Napoleon Boneparte’s favourites were filled with pistachio nuts. Despite lacking the status of Ottoman royalty, famous artist or renowned military leader, Iraqis today see no need to justify their delight in this Turkish treat. It was in fact a recipe that Iraqis first learned from the Turks, when Iraq was part of the Ottoman empire.
Easy to customize based on your favourite fruit and nut combinations, and equally appropriate eaten as a complement to gahwa (coffee), to sweeten the end of a meal, or even as a breakfast option sandwiched between a loaf of sammoun, Iraqis always love an opportunity for ‘living la vida luquom’!”
Celebrations in Iraq
Mouth-watering menus and feasts fit for a king accompany celebrations in Iraq. During Ramadan, the nightly fast is broken (traditionally) with the yogurt drink, leban and a few dates. The Iftar (after sunset) meal, however, is more substantial and typically includes lentil soup or lamb and herb soup to start, followed by zalata, then a warming bowl of tashreeb, stew and carrot rice. Other Iraqi staples enjoyed during the holy month include kubba. Sweet treats for dessert include burma and datli or zarda, baqlawat foggor and pomegranate jelly.
During Eid, Muslims greet one another by saying ‘Ayamkom Saeeda’ or ‘Eid Mubarak’ (meaning ‘Blessed Eid’). Eid-al-Fitr is a time when many Iraqis return to their breakfast routine of eating gaymer and kahi. The lunchtime spread is likely to resemble the one offered at my grandmother’s and features qouzi and a variety of margas.
Eid-al-Adha brings sweet delicacies for visiting guests, who are treated to kleitcha – small pastries shaped into crescents that resemble the new Eid moon, shakarlama and luquom. When Eid visitors appear on the second day of the holiday, they are still rewarded with trays of syrupy baklava and plump dates served with gahwa (coffee). Having refreshed themselves, discussion would almost certainly turn to the recently returned hajj pilgrims from Mecca who delight in sharing the holy water from the well of Zamzam. The labour-intensive qouzi is a must during this Eid feast.”
Do read our review of Raghad Al Safi’s cookbook The Iraqi Kitchen.
Luquom ~ Turkish Delight
- In a pot, make a syrup by mixing the sugar with 2 ½ cups of water and add cream of tartar or citric acid.
- In a separate bowl, add the remaining water to the cornstarch and mix well until it dissolves completely in water. Add the dissolved cornstarch to the syrup and stir continuously on a medium heat for 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick. Remove from heat and add the rose water and mastica.
- Grease a square pan, pour in the mixture and add the nuts and dried fruits. Allow the mixture to cool overnight.
- The next day, cut the turkish delight into squares and roll it in icing sugar.
[The Iraqi Table is published by Motivate Publishing and is available in leading bookstores and at booksarabia.com. Motivate Publishing has shared the following recipes along with the images from Raghad Al Safi’s cookbook to FoodeMag. We may have altered it to match the format in which our all recipes appear in this website.]