The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Iraqi Food
Iraq has a rich history and diverse influences. Its food is similar to other countries located in the Middle East. The five countries with the most similar food to Iraq are all predominately Muslim. Islamic dietary laws dictate the types of meats that are permissible, leading to a focus on lamb, chicken, and beef in these cuisines. In addition, these countries have a dry climate.
- Iran and Iraq are neighboring countries. Both cuisines have kebabs, flatbreads, pilafs, and slow-cooked stews. Fesenjan, a stew combining meat with pomegranate paste and ground walnuts, is one popular dish these countries share. Yogurt is also a common ingredient in both Iranian and Iraqi cuisines.
- Jordan is another predominately Arab country in the Levant. Jordanian cuisine has many parallels with Iraqi food, particularly in the use of ingredients like chickpeas, eggplant, and lamb. Fresh and colorful salads featuring ingredients like tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs are staples in both cuisines.
- Turkey is to the north of Iraq. In fact, Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire for centuries, so it is no surprise their food is similar. The cuisines of both countries feature a variety of kebabs, which are often marinated, skewered, and grilled to perfection. Baklava and other nut-filled desserts are enjoyed in both Turkish and Iraqi cuisines.
- Azerbaijan is very similar to Turkey. It is another Turkic country located between Europe and the Middle East. Both countries feature stuffed dishes, such as dolma in Azerbaijani cuisine and kubba in Iraqi cuisine. Kebabs are popular in both regions as well, showcasing their appreciation for well-cooked and seasoned meat.
- Oman is another predominately Arab country on this list. Both countries border the Persian Gulf. Flatbreads are a staple in both Omani and Iraqi diets. These breads are often used to scoop up stews, dips, and other dishes. In addition, dates are commonly enjoyed as a snack or dessert in both countries.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Iraqi Food
The five countries with the least similar food to Iraq are all located in Africa. Interestingly enough, four of the five are landlocked. Most of these countries get much more rainfall than Iraq as well. As a result, they are also more densely forested than Iraq. Wheat and rice based products are less commonly eaten in these five countries.
- Central African Republic is a former French colony in the middle of Africa. The majority of the country’s diet is based on cassava and yams. Bananas and plantains are also an extremely common source of food in the country. In contrast, Iraq typically eats more watermelons and grapes.
- Chad‘s food is quite different from Iraq’s, despite both countries being predominately Muslim. Its cuisine heavily relies on locally sourced ingredients such as millet, sorghum, yams, and indigenous fruits.
- South Sudan borders Central African Republic. Cassava is the nation’s staple food. Sorghum is a large part of the country’s diet as well. Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in the country. Relatively little chicken meat is consumed there compared to Iraq.
- Democratic Republic of Congo is another French-speaking country on this list. Cassava is the dominant staple food in the country, unlike in Iraq, where wheat and rice are more prevalent. Freshwater fish is also more commonly eaten in Congo than in Iraq.
- Burundi is yet another former colony of Belgium on this list. It is located in the tropical regions of Africa. Its diet is in large part based on cassava, sweet potatoes, plantains, and bananas. Very little rice and wheat is eaten in Burundi as well, compared to Iraq.
Iraq’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Chicken, Egg
Fruit: Watermelon, Grape
Vegetable: Tomato, Cucumber
Starch: Wheat, Rice
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.