A Baghdadi Jewish Culinary Detour

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Jews have lived in Baghdad since the city's founding in the 8th century AD. For centuries they thrived there and Baghdad became a center of Jewish learning and culture. With foreign invasions came occasional persecution, but this eased during the British mandate where their population numbered around 100,000. Most left after Israel was founded - though some European Jews immigrated to Baghdad to escape Nazi persecution and settled there permanently.

For my quick sojourn into Baghdadi Jewish cuisine, this is the recipe I made:


Layered Beef and Vegetables

Layered Beef and Vegetables

This is a slow cooking / make ahead recipe.

Dishes like this one have been made in Baghdad for many centuries, though some of the specific ingredients in this recipe may be more modern. They were originally cooked over wood fires. The slow cooking turns the meat impossibly tender, and also makes them particularly well suited for the sabbath.

I was underwhelmed with this dish when I served it right after I made it and served it with sliced wheat bread. I liked it more the next day when I had the leftovers over white rice - but it was in the third day, when I served it with sourdough bread that this dish really shined. The flavors had melded beautifully and it was full of umami.




  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1" cubes
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 lb small tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1-2 dried red chilies
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar


Heat oil in a large cooking pot (~10" in diameter & 4" tall) over medium heat. Add the onion slices, cover, turn heat to low and cook until the onion becomes soft and light golden. Stir in the beef, add salt and pepper, cover and continue cooking on low for 30 minutes.

Add the eggplant as a single layer on top of the beef/onion mixture. Cover with a layer of tomatoes and finish with a layer of the pepper slices. Push the red chilies into the center. Mix the water with the lemon juice and sugar and pour over the dish. Cover, turn heat to very low and cook for about 3 hours.

Adapted from a recipe in Copeland Mark's Sephardic Cooking: 600 Recipes Created In Exotic Sephardic Kitchens From Morocco To India

Relatec cuisines: Iraqi, Afghani Jewish, American Jewish, Bene Israel, Calcuttan Jewish, Cochin Jewish, Egyptian Jewish, Georgian Jewish, Greek Jewish , Israeli.

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