Illustrated Recipes



Aren’t these illustrated Iraqi Recipes gorgeous? They were created by Nadia AlKhafagi a very talented artist based in Dubai. You can check out her blog arttray to learn more about her. Also try these delicious recipes of hers why your at it.

Arabic Tea Latte



A latte is a drink that has more milk than the other half (coffee, tea, etc). I thought it would be fun to make a latte out of a popular Arabic tea. Chai karak is a popular drink in the Gulf however not here in Riyadh. I am not sure if some other areas (like the eastern region) drink it or not. Some of my Saudi readers please let us know.

First, I made a strong tea mix since we will be using a lot of milk in the recipe. I used 1/2 cup of boiling water per bag (you can use loose). Make sure you only use black tea and nothing like earl gray. Saudis and well other Arabs make tea with black tea only. Warming the milk helps steep the spices and brings out more flavor and also dissolves the sugar, a must. This drink is so delicious and you may just forget about coffee.

2 black tea bags
1 cup milk
1 cup boiling water
5 green cardamom pods
Pinch saffron strings
Sugar, to taste

1. In a cup add hot water and tea bags. Allow to steep for 5 minutes. Meanwhile on medium heat in a small saucepan add milk, cardamom pods, saffron and sugar. Mix well until sugar is dissolved them remove pan from heat.

2. Divide the tea mixture into two cups. Remove the cardamom pods from the milk mixture then use a blender or frother to make milk froth. You can also put it in a tightly sealed jar and shake like crazy.

3. Divide the spiced froth in half into each of the mugs.

Yields: 2 servings

Iraqi Churek


I love to make this bread for a light lunch alongside tea or coffee. The recipe has a light hint of rose water and sweetness. Not enough to make it too sweet but just enough to make it perfect. When you’re making a sweet dough it always turns out better if you allow it to rise a little longer so for mine I like to give it a good four hours. I just set it in the oven with the light on (make sure the oven has not been used because too much heat will make the yeast overgrow and it will taste bad). When you’re kneading it resist the urge to add more flour because the dough should be a bit sticky. Also when you roll it out do not leave it too high. I roll mine about 1/4 of an inch of not thinner and they really puff up nicely after they go into the oven.

1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil (plus more for hands)
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon yeast
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon rose water
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup warm water
2-1/2 cups flour (all-purpose or bread)
pinch of salt

1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup sesame seeds

1. In a small bowl add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, yeast and water. Allow to sit until frothy for 5 minutes.

2. In a small saucepan on medium heat add milk and sugar, mix until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside, add rose water and stir.

3. In a large mixing bowl add flour, salt, 2 tablespoons of oil, cardamom and egg, mix. Pour yeast mixture and milk mix into the bowl and quickly mix together. If the dough is dry add a little cold milk until a sticky dough consistency is obtained. Knead for a few minutes and roll into a ball. Place dough back into the bowl and add a small amount of oil into hands and rub on top of the dough. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 4 hours.

4. Punch dough down and divide into 3 even parts. On a non-stick baking mat shape each piece into a rectangle. You can use a rolling pin if needed. With a knife carefully make 4 slits into the dough (one near each corner). Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

5. Pre-heat oven to 375F. In a small bowl add egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water, mix well. Carefully brush mixture on top of dough then sprinkle seeds on top. Place the churek onto a parchment paper or non-stick baking mat lined baking sheet into the oven. Cook for 15-17 minutes until golden.

Yields: 3 pieces

Arabic Gulf Rice


This recipe is pretty much the standard recipe served throughout Gulf homes for dinner. The light flavors of popular Arabic spices mixed with a bit of tomato make for a perfect fragrant rice. During Ramadan rice is often ate for suhoor. I have found that most Muslims in the West tend to eat breakfast foods at that time while Muslims in the Middle East rely on foods that one eat for dinner such as rice, soups and samboosas to make sure everyone is full for the entire day.

1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 white onion, diced
3/4 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup basmati rice, washed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 chicken bouillon cube
pinch ground cardamom
pinch ground cumin
pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 garlic clove, smashed

1. In a 2-quart saucepan on medium heat add oil, onion and garlic. Allow to cook until tender about 2-3 minutes.

2. Add tomato paste, salt, rice, cardamom, cumin and cinnamon. Stir allow to cook for 3 minutes.

3. Add water and chicken cube. Stir well making sure chicken cube is dissolved. Bring to a full boil then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes then take off heat and allow to steam for a remaining 10 minutes. (Never remove lid).

4. Fluff with a fork and place onto a serving plate.

Yields: 3 servings