Posts Tagged ‘The Iraqi cookbook’


Dawoud Pash are small meatballs with a pine nut in the centre cooked in a tomato sauce with the addition of cumin which gives this dish a middle eastern flavour.  Named after Dawoud Pasha, ruler of Iraq during the Ottoman empire who apparently, loved to eat them.  This is an Iraqi recipe that I have taken from Lamees Ibrahim’s book.   I had been to Books for Cooks just before Christmas to look for any new Greek cookery books and The Iraqi cookbook caught my eye as I was leaving.   It was sitting strategically on the table by the door, the beautiful food photography on the cover enticed me to pick up the book and have a look through.  As I can no longer justify buying any more books I did say with some conviction that this was a book I would love to receive as a Christmas present.  I might have gone on to repeat myself somewhat later on.  I have learnt pester power works!

The addition of the cumin to the sauce is what makes this dish middle eastern.  Although a delicate dish, there is a curry element to the flavour but without any of the heat.  The flavour of the lamb is still there and every now and then you find yourself biting into a pine nut which is quite satisfying, a bit like winning at the lucky dip or finding the coin in the Christmas pudding.  Even though I had carefully placed a pine nut in each ball I did notice when cooking a few of them escaped.

The Iraqi Cookbook has been traveling around with me since Christmas allowing me to dip into it and muse at which recipe I will try first.   As with a lot of things in life I didn’t plan on making Dawoud Pasha.  It was Sunday morning and as I looked into the fridge all that was there as any real basis for a meal was one pound of lamb mince.   The usual thoughts of Keftedes, or Italian meatballs crossed my mind but I desired something different, something new.  Then I remembered a recipe I had glanced at in The Iraqi Cookbook –  Dawoud Pasha.  I had all the ingredients in the cupboard and the recipe seemed straight forward and easy to follow.

The first unusual thing about making these meatballs is that an egg isn’t used to bind the mixture just a little water.  The second being that flour was kneaded into the meat, usually I dust the meatballs in the flour not mix it in.  The one thing I did learn was that by kneading the meat with a little water, it begins to change texture, it becomes more fluid and manageable.  There are no instructions about the adding of the water except to add as and when needed.  I added a large tablespoon of warm water instead of cold because I felt cold would tighten up any fat in the meat and would not help in the binding.

I didn’t have any fresh tomatoes so instead used a tin and strengthened the taste with a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste.

This is a very easy recipe to make and follow and I enjoyed sitting at the kitchen table making the little meatballs the size of walnuts, remembering to place a little pine nut in the centre.   Like a squirrel burying its nuts for winter!


Dawoud Pasha

Makes 23 meatballs


500g/1lb lamb mince meat

1 clove garlic crushed

2 tbs plain flour

1 onion chopped

1 tablespoon oil

1 tin of tomatoes

2 tbs tomato paste


pine nuts

salt and pepper

1 tsp ground cumin


In a frying pan over a low heat dry roast the pine nuts until light brown in colour.  As the pan gets hot take it off the heat and tip the pan, rolling the pine nuts back and forth allows them to still colour just from the heat of the pan. Place on a plate to cool.

In a bowl mix the lamb mince with the crushed garlic and the 2 tbs of flour.  Season.  Using your hands start to knead the meat adding a little warm water, a large tablespoon at a time.  The meat will become more pliable.

To make the meatballs take an amount the size of a walnut and roll in your hands to create a ball.  With your thumb push down and add a single pine nut.  Roll again into a ball and set aside onto a plate.  Continue until all the meat is used up.

Place some oil in a pan and fry the meatballs in small batches until all are browned. Place on some kitchen paper when cooked.

In a saucepan add a little oil and fry the chopped onions until softened.  Add the tin of tomatoes filling the tin with water and adding this too, tomato paste and cumin.  Season and bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  As the tinned tomatoes do not break down as easily as fresh I used a hand held blender to break them up.  Add the meatballs and simmer for another 20 minutes.

Serve with simple white rice.


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