Kurdish Lesson 09 - Food

Kurdish food can vary by region and even by family, so what I present below is a snapshot of the foods I enjoyed first in San Diego and later in Iraq. The families with whom we lived in California were from the Sulemania and Halabja areas which is also where I lived in Iraq. I don’t know much about Hewleri or Dohuki food let alone Kurdish food in Turkey or Iran.

Kurdish food is a blend of regional dishes with local ingredients. The dishes are often similar to what one might find in a Turkish, Lebanese or even Indian restaurant, but in Kurdistan, the dishes have their own unique flavors.

I, for one, have never had falafel better than the falafel I had in Sulemania. The same goes for Briyani.

Below, I will spell the names of the dishes and foods with latini. Remember to click here for a refresher on pronunciation.

A typical Kurdish breakfast is fairly light.

Ḧelke RonFried Egg

An everyday breakfast would just be nan u mast, but the others mix in as well. Of course, no breakfast is complete without Ça.

My favorite breakfast was to mix my mast with date syrup. It was great, but I have no idea what the Kurdish word for date syrup is. Sorry.

Lunch and Dinner: Lunch and dinner foods are usually the same. We often ate lunch at the office where we had a cook. She made some really great things! (Although, some of my co-workers complained about the excessive amounts of oil!)

KubeGround meat wrapped in rice
Spiced rice with anything and everything in it
KufteGround meat wrapped in wheat served in a tomato soup
Eggplant, zucchini, onions and potato fried with spices
Yapraẍ/ DolmeGround meat wrapped in grape leaves or stuffed in various
ŞileTomato-based stew with one of many vegetables
ŞufteLittle spiced-meat patties (My personal favorite!)

Miscellaneous Food Names: There are many other words you’ll need to cook and eat in Kurdistan. I have tried to include those below. I have also included separate tables for fruits and vegetables.

Goşt Meat
QȋmeGround meat
SamunBread loaves or buns
Mast AwYogurt and water drink
DoLike Mast Aw, but when made traditionally, it’s
semi-fermented in an animal stomach
GȋpeMeat cooked in a cow's stomach
Sȇr u PȇHead and feet. Sheep’s brains and feet
KababMeat patty on a skewer
TikeMeat chunks on a skewer

Fruits and Vegetables: The secret to Kurdish culture is this: when you are invited to dinner or visit someone, they will eventually serve you fruit. The fruit is your sign that it’s time to go.


I don’t like vegetables all that much, so my vocabulary is slim. Sorry.


This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start.

If you have recipes for any of these foods, please post them in the comments. I can only make rice and şile.

A view of our neighborhood store. The lady on the right makes the world's best Kube and Şufte.

A small store like this is called a dukan.


Archie said...

I'm a fan of Lebanese food and love a good shawarma but have never been able to locate a falafel that doesn't taste dry. Thanks for all the pronunciations, I might have to see if any of these are off the menu!

Tammy said...

okay, I don't know what you call the tomato stuff you fixed with the raisins and rice...but yummmmmmmmmmmy!!!!! You miss being there don't you?

Ashin said...

Wow i havent been in Kurdistan for 18 years i came upon your blog when i was looking for recepie for Kufte i need a ingredience i dont have at home... my boyfriend loves it so im making it today and its my favourite dish!

well well

rdmeeker said...

Ashin! I need your recipe. I don't have one for that!

Defiance said...

I was engaged to a Kurdish man and have many Kurdish friends. I have found it difficult to obtain Kurdish recipes, but have managed to get a few which are posted on my Multiply page. The link is provided. With Newroz coming on March 21st (Kurdish New Year) I am devoting the month to all things Kurdish including food and recipes so I hope to be adding more to this page very soon.

Anonymous said...

i found this page looking for kurdish recipes. i used to live with a kurdish family for 6 years. so pretty much i have tried everything from you guys. and trust me when i tell you that i miss your food.

KULKA said...

my favourite is briyani (i can cook it more or less...) and dolma.
i didnt know the word you use for raisind - but what about mewzh مێوژ

rdmeeker said...

Briyani is the best! I may be wrong, but I think mewzh is grape.

rdmeeker said...

Grape is tire. Sorry for the confusion. Kishmish might be a localized word, I don't know.

M!LD*~­™ said...

I found your page by surfing kurdish breakfast style, but when it showed your links and I did click on it. I got information more than breakfast.
Zor Supas to created this blog and lesson that have Kurdish word translet to english word. I really like to learn it.

sherkoismail said...

Well done every one. I'm not a great cooks in Kurdish food but I will try my best to help any one.

Nuri Ozman said...

Nearly you are write false all kurdish word

Nuri Ozman said...

Nearly you are write false all kurdish word