Erbil, Kurdistan

March 18, 2013  •  Category:



I am spending a few days in Erbil (Kurdistan, Iraq) and  here are some snapshots of this fascinating city (and region).

This is a quick view of the citadel. This impressive structure contains what used to be around 500 homes  and is presumed to be at least 6,000 years old. 

The images below show bread being made in a tannour oven; the bread is called naan in Kurdish or tannour in Iraqi. The dough is first stretched on a pillow (kara in Lebanese), then the pillow with the bread are smacked against the walls of the hot oven and the dough immediately starts to bubble up; mere seconds later, it is retrieved with a set of long metal tongs. Delicious and  chewy bread.

stretching dough on kara

bread sticks to the walls of the oven


pulling it out in seconds


This is qaymar or clotted cream; it is sold in neighborhood markets and people stop by and purchase it by weight. Really good,  especially with that tannour bread and a drizzle of date syrup! (Qaymar used to be sold by ladies who’d carry it in jars on their heads; hope they still do in some corners of Iraq today!). Qaymar is so good because it comes from buffalo milk, with buffaloes raised in the  Mosul area; the healthiest milk.

qaymar and naan

I’d want this as my last meal (I decided after gobbling the bread and qaymar ) ; heavenly.





13 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Joy @My Turkish Joys says:

    Enjoy your trip! Funny enough, the qaymar looks exactly like Turkish kaymak. It’s lovely slathered with honey on freshly baked bread or a simit. 🙂

  2. Jessie says:

    Have you tried the tannour with nuts and honey? There’s this restaurant on the road from Ain Kawa to the Citadel that sells it half sweet like described above and half savory with baqdounes and garlic! It’s delicious!
    Enjoy Erbil!

  3. zerrin says:

    The photos of tandir (the name of it in Turkish) bread or naan are so impressive! I love the smell of that bread when it’s baking! And qaymar is definitely the same with our kaymak (in Turkish). Spreading a little kaymak on that naan bread and topping with a little honey makes your day! Thanks for sharing these lovely pictures!

  4. domi says:

    J’ai vu un beau reportage sur ces fours avec cette cuisson si originale…trop d’la balle. Bisous et belle journée

  5. nughair says:

    tanoor/tanoure/tandoor and the same bread called doday/marai/tandoori roti is made in pakistan,afghanistan and india as well

  6. Ozlem's Turkish Tabl says:

    what an amazing advanture you had – my husband recently returned from Erbil and he really likes it – looking at tandir and the kaymak, I would be a very happy girl there too 😉

  7. Kiran says:

    I would want that naan, clotted cream and date syrup for my last meal as well 😉

  8. Nuts about food says:

    After looking at your pictures, I think I want it as my last meal too!

  9. weavethousandflavors says:

    Hi Joumana,

    Tandoori roti is traditionally made the same way in large tandoori ovens and that cheese smeared on top is just incredible. Not to mention the beautiful fort architecture that seems to be so particular to such dry climates. I love these pics and wonderful time you must be having.

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  10. Susan says:

    How interesting to see the ovens and how the dough sticks to the side to cook! I’m surprised it doesn’t fall to the bottom as it bakes. How absolutely fresh and delicious with the clotted cream! The date syrup sounds wonderful.

  11. Oui, Chef says:

    Clotted cream and freshly baked bread….oh my. A fine final meal, indeed.

  12. Emma says:

    Ooh, that looks lovely! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  13. Merav says:

    Just found your blog and tried a few recipes. all great! I wanted to chime in and say that Tanoor in Hebrew means oven and in Jerusalem the flat bread is called Esh (fire) tanoor. Wonder where the word originated. Maybe Aramic?

    Thanks for your blog!

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