Yesterday, when we went for our lunch at a restaurant, we decided to have quzi. Quzi is a delicious dish and I love it very much. Whenever you take a seat at any restaurant in Baghdad, they will first serve you with soup and a large selection of salads and plentiful amounts of pieces of bread — mezze. You may see mezze spelled mazza, meze, mezzah, mezzeh or mezza. It’s pronounced mez-ay. Then they take orders for the meal. These soup, salads, and loaves of bread accompany every meal in Iraq.
Mezze, a style of dining in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, resembles a collection of small plates meant to stimulate your appetite. But, unlike the appetizers, mezze often makes up an entire meal. Sometimes, I feel let’s eat that and get out of the restaurant. Mezze dining encourages conversation and lingering at the table — a truly social event.
Quzi or qoozi is considered one of Iraq’s national dishes. Quzi reflects the generosity and hospitality of Bedouins. The famous Quzi is traditionally a whole lamb stuffed with a mixture of nuts, currants, vegetables, spices, and slow cooked over a closed or submerged oven, served on a bed of rice. In some places in the Middle East, it is buried in a pit containing burning coal or charcoal to get the smoky flavour.
I have seen roasted whole lambs on mountains of rice with the smells of cardamom, cinnamon and toasted almonds in a few Iraqi wedding and Eid parties that I attended in Iraq. This is one of the grandest, entertaining and delicious dishes cooked in Iraq.
We relished the spiced rice, butter rice, flavoured rice, bulgur, and succulent meat along with white beans stew, okra stew and spinach stew, which were served along with Quzi.
Quzi is served in pieces in urban restaurants. It’s still a sumptuous meal.
As the ultimate homage to your guests, what could be a better way to celebrate a birthday, wedding or a significant event than to serve the Iraq’s national treasure: Quzi.