Nawal Nasrallah graciously shared with me her recipe for what I’m calling “Iraqi curry."  I love this dish not only because it smells, tastes, and looks wonderful but because it incorporates elements of other major world cuisines, thereby reflecting Iraq’s cultural connections and influences.

Like Indian varieties, this spiced stew uses a ubiquitous yellow curry powder and can be modified based on whatever protein you have readily available (although Nawal favors shrimp or salmon). Look for the more exotic ingredients at your local Middle Eastern market (or even a Pakistani one).  

You’ll need: 

  • crunchy bottomed rice (see below
  • 1 pound shrimp 
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup red or yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins 
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly roasted or browned 
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon yellow curry powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds 
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses 
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley 
  • optional: 1 chopped tomato

  1. Saute the diced onion in vegetable oil over medium high heat
  2. Once onion softens, add curry powder and crushed coriander seeds
  3. Cook until spices are fragrant
  4. Add pomegranate molasses, Worcestershire sauce, peppers, raisins, walnuts, and chopped tomato (if using)
  5. Allow to simmer until flavors blend together and the mixture resembles a thick sauce (about 8 minutes)
  6. Add shrimp, covering with the sauce
  7. Cook another few minutes until shrimp are no longer translucent
  8. Take off heat  and add salt to taste 
  9. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve on top warm rice 

 To make “crunchy bottomed rice":
  1. Wash one cup basmati rice and let soak in water (covered by about 1/2 inch) for thirty minutes 
  2. Heat one tablespoon vegetable oil in a large non-stick pot over medium heat 
  3. If available, add 1/4 cup dried vermicelli noodles (can substitute broken pieces of spaghetti noodles) and cook until lightly browned
  4. Add rice along with soaking water (the water should cover by 1/3 inch, add fresh water if necessary)
  5. Add 1/2 tsp salt
  6. Let boil, covered, for ten minutes or water is absorbed
  7. Lower heat, fluff rice with fork, and let simmer for another twenty minutes
  8. Remove lid and taste rice to check for doneness
  9. If al-dente turn heat to high and allow bottom of rice to brown
  10. Once you smell the rice toasting quickly remove from heat, place platter on top pot and flip rice on to platter
  11. If the toasted crust does not come off in one piece gently scrap with a wooden spoon and add on top rice- this is the best part!