Iraqi Breakfast 101: Makhlama

For those of us who grew up with Iraqi food, and who, like me, may one day find ourselves in the throes of a painfully deep nostalgia and longing for those home cooked Iraqi meals: this one is for you. For many of us in diaspora, it’s the dishes like these that keep us eternally and viscerally connected to Iraq.

My father used to make this dish on lazy Sunday mornings. You could say it was his specialty. It is so simple and so satisfying.  Makhlama is a dish of soft cooked eggs atop a skillet of ground beef with onions, parsley, tomatoes, and in my father’s style: the addition of lemon juice. Just trust me on this one. Using the best quality ingredients here will change the taste dramatically.

No one does breakfast better than Iraq.


serves 6-8


1 onion, diced
1 1/2 lbs Ground beef (organic and pasture-raised, if possible)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
Juice of 1-2 lemons
6-12 Eggs (organic, if possible)
Olive Oil
Salt | Black Pepper
Maldon salt, optional, to top
1 lemon, wedges, to top


1.     In a large skillet, heat about two tablespoons of olive oil at Medium. Sweat the onions about 3-5 minutes. Add salt.
2.     Add the ground beef. Be sure to break it apart as you stir so that the meat cooks in small pieces, like pebbles. Cook until browned at Medium/Low heat, about 5-8 minutes.
3.     Once the meat is cooked, at the parsley and lemon juice. Mix together well.
4.     Then add the tomatoes, and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep on Medium heat about 3-5 minutes.
5.     Bring the heat up to Medium/High, add the eggs on top of the mixture in individual spots. Top with some salt, preferably a nice flaky salt like Maldon sea salt. Immediately cover the skillet and reduce heat to Medium/Low. This shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes, depending on the density of your skillet. Keep checking, so that the whites are cooked but the yolks are still soft.
6.     Once done, remove the cover. Top with parsley!
7.     Serve with samoon, khubz tanour, pita, or baguette! And if you’re like me, a little labneh, too!

Bil ‘Afya | Bon Appetit

My recipe for Makhlama is also published on Yalla Iraq, an online Iraqi lifestyle magazine.