Subhash called me in the morning asking me whether I am interested for having masgouf for lunch today, then he would ask his department colleague Nadia to arrange for it at the Iraqi Hunting Club. I immediately consented for it as it’s been a long time that we enjoyed the Iraqi delicacy — Masgouf. It is a traditional Mesopotamian dish, consisting of seasoned, grilled carp. It is de facto considered the national dish of Iraq. Baghdad prides itself of making the best of the Masgouf.
Nadia placed orders for masgouf beforehand so that the fish would be ready by the time we go for our lunch. Cooking of Masgouf takes long time sometimes up to 3 hours depending upon the size of the fish. Generally when ordered, the carp fish is taken out of the water tank and killed by a quick blow onto the forehead with a small rod. It is then partially scaled, slit up the back, cleaned the guts out and flattened the bodies. After sprinkling sea salt onto the fish, it is carried over to a fire pit and propped on their sides against iron stakes plunged into the ash to roast against the flames. By roasting the fish vertically with the open side facing the fire, the oil seeps into the ashes, leaving salted, seasoned fish meat. The fish is cooked until most of the fish’s fat is burnt out, as the carps are typically fatty.
We went for our lunch after 3.00 p.m. We were joined by our a few other colleagues. The fish were yet to be well-cooked and crispy on the outsides. We waited for around half an hour. The fish were served on a big tray garnished with lime, slices of onion and pickles and served to us on the table after covering them by large khubz — flatbreads to keep the fish hot.
Masgouf was quite tasty. I think that it gets the extra taste from the smoke that goes into the flesh of the fresh fish while cooking it.
Thanks Nadia for arranging Masgouf lunch for us.