Food tells the real stories, the ones that alter people, places, and cultures. Food tells us about the cradle of civilisation, where this tumultuous epicurean journey begins. Recipes can be as old as the tales of Gilgamesh or as stimulating as the sojourns of Sindbad. This week our gourmandism took us down the streets of Mesopotamia or what we call it today, Iraq. A cuisine that dates back more than 10,000 years, where the Babylonians took great pride in their food and documented it on cuneiform tablets from 1700BC to 1900BC. From types of bread and cheese to soups, the old dishes have survived and been modernised over the ages.
Today, the foods of Iraq reflect this rich inheritance as well as strong influences from the culinary traditions of surrounding nations. Because of all these traditions and complex influences, Iraqi cuisine is enormously rich and varied. With these thoughts in mind, we tried Samad Al Iraqi in the heart of Qurum. This restaurant gives off an old-world vibe. As is our course, we ordered a couple of appetisers, mains, and a dessert to round it off.
He said: We started with Iraqi Hummus and Dolma. The hummus was creamy and rich and it went so well with the fresh-baked Iraqi bread and kebabs from the main course. On the other hand, the Dolma which was made out of different types of vegetables stuffed with a tomato-based rice and meat concoction cooked to perfection. It’s was delicious and it can be considered a meal on its own.
She said: Iraqi flavours are new to my palate so the excitement was overwhelming. That being said I am no novice when it comes to Dolma. These stuffed veggies are the highlight of any Arab meal. Cooked to juiciness, each vegetable was stuffed to the brim with rice and meat oozing out.
He said: For our mains, we picked Qoozi and Iraqi kabab. Qoozi is a rack of meat cooked for hours and served on a bed of different types of rice with okra in a tomato gravy. The meat was so tender that if you lifted the bone off the plate, the meat slides off. It’s a supreme feast in one dish. The Iraqi kebabs are minced, skewered and then grilled meat. The flavour of the meat was not overpowered by any spices.
She said: The Qoozi turned out to be a slow-cooked rack of meat served on a bed of 3 types of fragrant rice. One cooked with tomato, the other was a Biryani rice and the last being steamed. Each morsel of meat just melted in the mouth and left you wanting more. The dish was peppered with dry fruits and nuts. If you’re looking for a hearty rice dish that wows your senses, this is the place to be.
He said: We decided on the Um Ali for dessert. I must say I liked this very much as it wasn’t sweet. There was a hint of the chopped nuts and the buttery pastry inside. A good dessert to end a good meal.
She said: After such a huge meal, desserts were not an option but a review we had to write so we went ahead and ordered the Um Ali. I must say I was disappointed, hoping for a rich, flaky crust and sweet pudding beneath. The dessert was absolutely bland for my taste.
We said: Service was unobtrusive and pleasant. We didn’t want for anything. We would say the pricing on this is a bit on the higher side but well worth the quality and quantity of the food served. We are definitely going back for another round of that Qoozi!
Taste of food: 4.5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Disclaimer: The ORR team reviews anonymously and pays for their own meals.
On August 18, Oman Restaurant Review celebrated its 7th anniversary making it one of the longest-running food review pages in Oman. Boasting over 30,000 followers across their different social media accounts, the duo behind Oman Restaurant Review is sharing some of their feedbacks about the food scene in Oman. For more updates, you can also follow them on Instagram: @oman_restaurant_review