Oldest Cookbook from Ancient Mesopotamia

The earliest cookbooks found around the world give people today a fascinating look at not only what the people of the time ate but also their lifestyles, mainly of those from the upper class. The oldest known documented recipes in the world come from the ancient city of Babylon. The Mesopotamian recipe book is the oldest and the first documented cuisine in the world, of which only three Babylonian cuneiform tablets are extant today and is a set of cracked tablets engraved by an early civilization’s version of a master chef going back to 1700 BCE. The recipes are elaborate and often call for rare ingredients. The dishes were slow-cooked in a covered pot to make the food extra tasty. Ancient foodies seem to have preferred fowl and mutton.

Ancient Temple of Ninmakh

Located in the fabled ancient city of Babylon, adjacent to the Processional Way and the iconic Ishtar Gate, the Ninmakh Temple was rebuilt several times during the reigns of Esarhaddon, Assurbanipal, and Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century BCE. Ninmakh is the Sumerian Mother Goddess and one of the oldest and most important in the Mesopotamian Pantheon. She is principally a fertility goddess. Ninmakh subsumed the characteristics of similar deities like Ki (earth) and others, and was later herself subsumed by the fertility goddess Inanna/Ishtar.

Ancient City of Babylon

The city of Babylon, whose ruins are located in present-day Iraq around 100 kilometres south-west of Baghdad, was founded 4000 years ago as a small port town on the river Euphrates. It became a major military power under Hammurabi, who ruled from 1792 to 1750 BCE. We visited the heritage site yesterday. The summer is extremely hot in Iraq with temperature  hovering around 50 degrees Celsius and still we went ahead with our plan.

Facade of Inanna Temple

There was a section of the facade of the temple of Inanna at Uruk. A wall of baked bricks with buttresses and recesses. This wall was a section of the front facade the temple of the goddess Inanna in Warka, which was built by Karaindash, the Kassite king (1445-1427 BCE) and replaced the wall of mosaic which decorated the facade of the temple Warka since the Jamdat Nasir period.

Kleicha: Iraqi date cookies

Kleicha is a well known Iraqi cookie, made typically on occasions such as Eid. It is considered to be the national cookie of Iraq and no feast, religious or otherwise, is complete without it. It is loved by all Iraqi groups, including Muslims, Christians, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Kurds. These cookies are called “kileche” in Assyrian, while they are known as “kleicha” in Arabic.