Dolma is a family of stuffed vegetable dishes common in the Mediterranean cuisine. It slowly made a delicious journey from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the shores of the Bay of Bengal, where it got the exotic transformation.
Roasting small chunks of meat is a process dating back to antiquity. Evidence of hominin use of fire and cooking in the Middle East dates back as far as 790,000 years. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who invented kebab. What matters is that fire has touched meat, that the meat is good, and the company is even better.
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 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.
Truffles have gained widespread attention in the culinary world lately, becoming a favourite among chefs and food-lovers alike. Not to be confused with the chocolate confectionery of the same name, truffles are a type of fungus that grows near the roots of certain trees.
Baghdad was founded by the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur in 762 CE. When he founded a completely new city for his capital, he chose the name Medina al-Salaam or The City of Peace. This was the official name on coins, weights, and other official usage, although the common people continued to use the old name. Baghdad soon became the home to pioneering scientists, astronomers, poets, mathematicians, musicians, historians, legalists and philosophers. The Baghdad Peace Festival was started in 2011 to remind people of that history.
Shahbandar café is one of Baghdad’s few remaining traditional cultural cafés. Since opening its doors, Shahbandar café had become a hub of Baghdad’s intellectual life, drawing poets and politicians to its wooden benches and photo-lined walls. The café still stands, a testament to the resilience of the country and the capital, Baghdad, even if so much has happened here. From British rule to modern-day Iraq, Shahbandar has lived through the birth of a nation, the toppling of its monarchy, decades of domination by Saddam Hussein, the drama of the US-led invasion and the bloody chaos that followed.