Om Ali | A dessert born in blood

Recently, I attended an Iftar party at a luxury hotel in Baghdad. After I finished the food, I found a nice, sweet dessert there, called Om Ali — a simple concoction: bread and pastry are combined with raisins, pistachios, coconut and almonds, then drenched in sweetened milk. It’s not the story of a royal chef preparing an innovative dish at the behest of a discerning king, but of a murder and a rather cruel one! 

Al-Mustansiriyya Madrasa | Baghdad’s oldest seat of learning

In 1227 CE, the thirty-seventh Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir Billah (reigned 1226-1242 CE) commissioned the construction of Al-Mustansiriyya madrasa in the capital city of Baghdad named in his honour. Construction lasted for six years and the school opened in 1234 CE. It was one of the oldest madrasas in the world. Al-Mustansiriyah Madrassa stands as a testament to Iraq’s resilience and endurance over the centuries and demonstrates that barbarism and terrorism of any kind, at any period, cannot prevail over culture and knowledge.

Winged Genie of Assyria

Winged genie is the conventional term for a recurring motif in the iconography of Assyrian sculpture. Winged genii are usually bearded male figures sporting birds’ wings. The genie symbolised both protection and fertility — its role was to safeguard and replenish the ancient kingdom of Assyria.

Love actually | Ancient couple found in Harappan grave

Archaeologists have made a first of its kind discovery of a rare couple’s grave — the skeletal remains of a young man and woman, interred with his face turned towards her — has been excavated at the Harappan settlement at Rakhigarhi in Haryana, about 150km from Delhi. Rakhigarhi is the site of a pre-Indus Valley Civilisation settlement going back to about 6500 BCE.

Se Cathedral | The largest church in Asia

The Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina, known as Se Cathedral, is the cathedral of the Latin Rite Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa and Daman and the seat of the Patriarch of the East Indies. It is located in Old Goa, India. The word Sé is Portuguese for See. An episcopal see is, in the usual meaning of the phrase, the area of a bishop’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction.