Traditional Iraqi Cuisine

Halawat Sha’riyya is one really old recipe in the Iraqi cuisine. I will dedicate another post to talk about Shariyya (vermicelli noodles), as they happen to be very very interesting and have a very interesting story to tell. However, for today’s recipe, let’s stick to this traditional Iraqi dessert.

As I was chatting with Professor Nawal Nasrallah about the culture of Ramadan in Iraq (on this link), and the Iraqi Ramadan foods (on this link) we of course also talked about the traditional Halawat Shariyya. She was very generous to share with us the recipe from her beautiful book ‘Delights from The Garden of Eden‘. And here it is for you to try.

In case you are wondering: “Sha’riyya is very thin wheat-noodles, similar to angel hair pasta. It is mostly sold in the form of balls (also called ‘nests’), available at Middle Eastern stores (labelled ‘thin noodles #1’).”


  • 2 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon oil (such as canola)
  • 6 ounces (175 g) vermicelli noodles (about 7 balls)
  • 2 ¼ cups (548 ml) hot water
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (8 oz/ 225g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • ½ cup broken walnut pieces, optional

For garnish

2 tablespoons coarsely ground pistachio

Melt the butter with the oil in a medium heavy pot.

Slightly crush the noodle balls between your fingers and add them to the melted butter mixture, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Carefully pour in the hot water, and add the salt. Stir, and bring to a quick boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the noodles start to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add sugar, cardamom, rose water, and walnut, if used. Stir until the sugar crystals dissolve. Let the pot simmer, covered, on medium-low, stirring 2 or 3 times, until the moisture is absorbed and the noodles look glossy, and sugar starts to stick to the bottom of the pot (12 to 15 minutes).

Immediately, spread it on a platter, and give it a generous sprinkle of ground pistachio. Serve it warm.

Leftovers may be refrigerated and heated for 30 seconds in the microwave when needed.

Meet Professor Nawal Nasrallah

She is the published author of Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and History of the Iraqi Cuisine, a new edition of which has just been released. Nawal is also the author of the food blog “In My Iraqi Kitchen” in which she writes about “the Iraqi cuisine across the centuries, from Mesopotamian times, through medieval, and to the present.” A blog that is really worth exploring, especially for those who are serious about their food knowledge, as Iraqi cuisine is one through which you understand so many other cuisines, especially the origin of recipes.

This Sweet ‘n Golden Vermicelli Noodles recipe and its pictures are provided by Professor Nawal Nasrallah and are her property. They are published on this blog with her permission. Please do not copy or use them without her permission.

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