Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Lesson on Kurdish Cuisine

Map of Kurdistan

I've talked about being Kurdish and if you don't know a lot about the Kurds...well then you're probably asking "who are the Kurds and what exactly is Kurdish style cooking?"


Some typical Middle Eastern & Greek Foods that the Kurds make:

Baklava

Hummus (though we do not use lemon juice in ours)

Tabouleh & Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce

First, a little history about who exactly the Kurds are and where they are from. Kurds came thousands of years ago from the Kafkas mountains at the time when the big migration of humanity began from those mountains to the Middle East and Europe. According to research, the flow of the emigrants divided into two main groups. One of these groups settled in Europe and extended to the generations we see nowadays in Germany. The other group settled in the north of Mesopotamia (Kurdistan). Scientists believe that Kurds and Europeans descend from the same root, that is Indo-European (Aree) race. The brightest page of Kurdish history goes back to the year 860 B.C. Kurds at that time had a very powerful Empire called Media. This Empire extended to some parts of present Iraq and Iran in addition to all their land.

The Kurdish cuisine is a wonderful cuisine because it is influenced by so many cuisines as the Kurds are spread out throughout the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe. I grew up eating so many different kinds of food and just thought that's how everyone ate. My mother made so many different kinds of dishes and it was always such a learning experience hanging out with her in the kitchen as she would tell us about the food she was making. She'd tell us stories of making her beans n rice while bombs were going off outside her home. She'd tell us about making yogurt for the Peshmerga (the Kurdish freedom fighters) before they had to leave for a mission, because it was good for them to help fight off infections.

The Kurds use lots of fresh herbs and vegetables in their food and soups are a staple. The soups consist of different vegetables and meats, primarily lamb and chicken. We eat a lot of burgul. I remember my dad lecturing us on how good it was for us, because we wanted our mom's white rice instead. And he was right....burgul is made of durum wheat and is very rich in fiber, protein and even potassium. I will make sure to post some burgul recipes soon! We eat most of our soups and stews over rice or couscous or burgul. Many of the soups and stews are tomato based and of course full of flavor.

Kurdish "yaprak" "yapragh" or "dolma" The Kurds stuff many vegetables, including onions, tomatoes, squash, etc when they make dolma as well as the stuffed grape leaves.
Kurdish Biryani, rice with spices and lamb.

Kurds eat a very healthy diet because even when they use meat it is almost always served with lots of veggies and no added fats are used in our cooking. Braising meats is the typical way of cooking meat which of course eliminates the necessary use of any oils or butter. The other thing that I think is very important is that we'd always end a meal with a big bowl of fresh fruits and hot black tea. We'd use honey for our tea and the fruit was our dessert. The Kurds love of fruit comes from the fact that most of the soil in Kurdistan is very rich and fertile, and long summer months allow for many fruits to grow. My mother's father had orchards of fruit and nut trees. He had pomegranate, apple, fig, and walnut trees as well as rows and rows of grape vines.

Kurdish clothing is very colorful and elaborate. Men & Women dance together in the Kurdish culture.
A young girl in traditional Kurdish clothing.


If you're really interested in the Kurds and want to learn more about them or see more pictures and get the latest on their plight to survive and thrive....go to:


http://www.krg.org/

25 comments:

Kate / Kajal said...

Thanks for the cultural lesson Avesta :) ... i think Kurdish n lebanese food is very similar. All that you've shown here , is made by the Lebs too :), only prob is now this pics makin me drool, n i still have half a day of fasting to go ... grr ... :P

Candy said...

These all look delicious! Interesting lesson, too.

avesta said...

Kate, yes...we make many dishes that are very similar to Lebanese food. I love Lebanon! I did a journalism project there with Terry Anderson for 4 months. It's such an amazing country. Such beautiful people, landscape and wow the food! It doesn't get better than sitting at a restaurant in Beirut overlooking the Mediterranean Sea eating fresh fish and a an array of Mezza. Yum!

avesta said...

Thank you Candy! I hope you continue to come back soon!

vincent said...

I kind of came to your sight by way of Amy. (Turn) I really am interested in the history lesson, as Tyler Tucker (my boyfriend) always told me that you were Kurdish... Just awhile back I was finally lucky (smart?!) enough to see on a television show all about who exactly the Kurds were. The girls doctor is from Syria, so I have a newfound interest in these parts...The waterwheels and all. Anyhow, I loved this post! :) And I love your blog, as I enjoy cooking and baking...

avesta said...

Thanks so much Vincent. I love Ty...please say hello from me. I hope all is well with you two...are you still in Logan? Maybe we can meet up when I'm home for the holidays.

Ingrid said...

Hi~
I really enjoyed the lesson. Ignorant, probably but I never heard of Kurdistan. Thanks for educating me!
~ingrid

avesta said...

Thanks for reading Ingrid. I hope you enjoyed the lesson!

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

Thanks for that introduction to Kurdish cuisine. Definitely looking forward to reading more.

avesta said...

Thanks for visiting Vancouver! I love your site and adore the city of Vancouver!

Sara said...

Thanks for this blog. My husband is Kurdish (from Sulamaniyah) and you have no idea how many times we both have tried to make the staple rice and chicken. Have you done rice on here yet?

avesta said...

Wow Sara that's where my mother's family is from! Please try to read through all my recipes...I have many that my mother taught me and there will continue to be many more Kurdish recipes. I do have a beans and rice recipe on here that I think you'll love! We would have it at least twice a week growing up! If there's any other recipe you're looking for let me know..I will post it!

Sarah said...

enjoyed reading your blog, very interesting. My grandmother comes from Koysanjak which is North of Sulimaniya and I recognize many of your dishes from her. I particulary enjoy ethnic cuisine and have a baby blog http://zarifas.blogspot.com/
and have linked yours in.

Tiur said...

Hi Avesta,
Thank you for the history of the Kurds, before I thought that the food is the same as in Arab country.
I would like to know more about how you cook Bulgur. I hope you can share the recipe.
When I was a kid in Pontinak, Indonesia, some times we ate Bulgure. My mother told me that during the war, they ate Bulgur. I always asscociated Bulgur with poverty. So I would indeed interested in learning about this dish and of course the other Kurdish food too. I like to by some sweet from the Kurdish sweet shop here.
Again thank you and I will go back to your blog often :-)
Cheers
Tiur

Anonymous said...

hi my name is raj,i am from india(hindustaan) but i am engaged to a girl she is half swiss and half kurd ,i am very proudy that i have such a wonderful fiancee.i wana learn some kurd food so i can cook for her and make her happy and let her feel in her homecountry(kurdistaan).please can some one tell mem the best websites to learn the kurdcuisine, i will wait fr the reply .thanks

rajrewin said...

hi my name is raj,i am from india(hindustaan) but i am engaged to a girl she is half swiss and half kurd ,i am very proudy that i have such a wonderful fiancee.i wana learn some kurd food so i can cook for her and make her happy and let her feel in her homecountry(kurdistaan).please can some one tell mem the best websites to learn the kurdcuisine, i will wait fr the reply .thanks

avesta said...

Raj. Congrats on your engagement. I wish you and your fiancee a life of happiness and full of love and of course with lots of good food.

You can find lots of good Kurdish recipes online but the best is learning from a Kurd. I learned all my cooking from my mother and my aunts and other family members. Try to have one of her family members give you some lessons!

Kathryn said...

Thank you for your blog Avesta. I am a Dietetics student and enrolled this semester in Food & Culture. I had chosen Kurdish cuisine for my research paper because I have many Kurdish friends. Unfortunately, I have come to regret that decision because my friends are men and they know nothing about the food except that its on the table, they eat it and they like it. They also aren't exactly willing to be interviewed. As part of this report & presentation, I have to prepare a dish and bring it into the class. Do you have a favorite among your recipes that you would suggest I make? I am a vegetarian so it can't contain flesh but dairy and eggs will be just fine. Thank you in advance, and thank you for your blog.

Cindy Hosea said...

Hi Avesta,

I hope your site in still current. I am a photojournalist and I just returned from Sulaymaniyah where I accompanied a group of Gold Star moms on a journey to Iraq.

I am wanting to share with my family some of the dishes we were served while in Iraq. I'm looking forward to browsing your site and maybe asking a question or two about a couple different dishes we were served.

Supaas,
Cindy

Jeff Gibbs said...

Looks yummy. My wife has started a Kurdish cuisine blog at www.kurdishcuisine.blogspot.com. Her food is the stuff from Northern Turkey so its different but I sent her your blog address...take a look!

Anonymous said...

wew it's intreasting topics thanks guys

Bluejay said...

Thanks for the information you provided, it will come in handy for my cuisine assignment. Just a few years ago I chose Kurdistan for my power point assignment and now I am going to write about the food. I am a cooking student living in NZ.
Jo's my name

Bluejay said...

cool!!

Bluejay said...

wow cool stuff!
Jo

helengyan said...

Slaw,Choni Bashi Avesta I just love your blog all those fantastic Kurdish recepes! ZOR ZOR XOSH! My Hubby is Kurdish from a small village on the outskirts of Slemani(Sulaymania) I adore the culture as its my daughters culture also Alhamdulillah :) The food especially, the clothes the history all of it! We visited Kurdistan Northern Iraq side & stayed in his village mostly & also visited Hawler, Halbja :"( & Dukan last year & I must say one thing WOW the food was sublime I have never experienced such friendly people & welcoming every home we visited they put out a spread of food fit for a king & queen & that is surely how we both felt! My hubby had not returned home to his beautiful country until 10 years later after fleeing during the war due to political reasons, & claimed asylum where here in the UK we met & now are happily married with 1 daughter Avarose-Hanar a proud name we gave her " Hanar" as you know meaning Pomegranit in Kurdish sorani :) you mention your Daya Gyan cooking for the Peshmerga well my husbands Daya Gyan also told me a similar story & the pride in her story telling was wonderful & so moving I was brought to tears! :( The Iraqi secret police murdered his father & uncles as they did so many many others its such a sad history but mixed with all the heart ache & war there is a culture & people who are so proud & that pride & determination is what has got them here today And Kurdistan was long deserved & by god they deserve it BIJI KURDISTAN! I love that you are showing ppl your Culture & zor zor supas for the recepes as believe me I love cooking but nothing better than to be taught by a true Kurdish woman & in time maybe Insha'Allah I can one day be as good as yourself & my hubbys Daya Gyan lol I am dreaming but hey we can all dream :) Kwa Hafiz & Insha'Allah this found you well :) Helen Kalihla