Friday, January 23, 2004

Iraqi Koleicha vs. Czech Kolache

It seems like Iraqis and Americans have one main thing in common: the love for food.

I keep receiving e-mails asking me about the Iraqi Koleicha I mentioned in my December 22, 2003 post [Post moved here]. So, I went into an investigation mood -- not to mention an eating mood -- and decided to visit a small Czech town near Dallas where they make delicious Czech kolache. Here are the results of my one day trip:

Iraqi Koleicha dough is harder. Think of something between Danish pastries and Christmas cookies to get an idea of how hard Iraqi koleicha's dough is. As I explained to one reader, think of Ravioli baked in an oven without the sauce. A piece of koleicha is about 1x2 inches in size. The smaller the better. Well, maybe not because you may eat many pieces due to the small size.

Fillings are also different, at least what's sold at those Czech shops are different. The most used filling for Iraqi koleicha is walnuts, crushed then mixed with a very small amount of sugar. Other fillings include dates and coconuts. Chaldean and Assyrians have yet another filling made of butter, sugar and flour. That's very yummy even when eaten by itself.

One reader told me that kolache roots go back to Turkey. This may explain how both Iraqi and Czech sweets are similar. This made sense to me as most Iraqi Christians originate from north of Iraq. That part of Iraq is not too far from Turkey, not to mention many Turkish families moved to north of Iraq during the 19th century -- earlier or later (I'm really not sure). I know my mom's family moved from Turkey to Dehuk some 100-200 years ago. Now, her family has branches in Dehuk, Mosul and Sulaymania governorates.

Check Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and a History of the Iraqi Cuisineon for more Iraqi recipes.

And since Zeyad is challenging Iraqi women with his cooking skills, I'll be posting simple, easy-to-make recipes -- I know, we all have busy schedules -- in the future. I must warn you all, Iraqi food is anti-South Beach dietand anti-Atkins diet.We love rice and bread, but who doesn't.

Delights from the Garden of Eden
A Cookbook and a History of the Iraqi Cuisine

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