Live from Erbil – Qaysari

Dearest blog reader. You know I actually miss you when I am not writing to you.

If you my dear reader think that Erbil is all about big buildings, fancy shopping and coffee shops you are wrong, and you better not have that image of Erbil otherwise your loyal blogger will be dl shkaw (broken hearted) because lets face it, Erbil (or Hawler as I like to call it) is much richer than just the ordinary services that any western country can offer.
I promise I will take you on a trip to the modern side of Hawler that will make you feel like you’re in Europe, but before I do that I want to show you the true and genuine side of Hawlerakam (my Hawler) this means the ancient qaysari bazaar right opposite the citadel. If you visit Erbil and do not come here then believe me I will be har zor toora (upset with you).

Qaysari bazaar – Erbil

The Qaysari bazaar is so confusing to walk in, it is not one of those places where there is a map and you know which shop is where. You basically follow your nose (because the aroma of everything is in the air, from sugar, spice and everything that is nice) and your sight (because there is so much colour and vibe). I love it here. Everything from clothing, shoes and food you can get. This is the true Erbil.

Still there are the hand made bit and pieces that people spend hours doing. I love the atmosphere in this part of the bazaar and I am so glad it is not in the wind of modernization, because this part of Erbil I want it to stay this way. As it is and as it was. I must point out the people are really kind and warm, although they do try to fool you when it comes to prices and quality of goods. for example bnishti Kurdi, which is natural chewing gum, they put so many on the table and if you are nice he will bring one out from under the table and tell you “take this, daraja yaka” (first class) you see almost everything in Krudistan from petrol to the gum we chew has different ranks, there is always the daraja yak and daraja do – which is equivalent to the first and second class of everything.

bnishti kurdi – Kurdish chewing gum. All natural (this is daraja do the good, pure ones are hiding under the table)

So, you shop, walk around and observe the beauty from the coloured textile and designs to the little Kurdish bits and pieces that really does remind you that you are still in Kurdistan. (One of my friends, NB, once told me “I am scared incase Erbi tries to develop so much that I won’t be able to see the sky anymore) bakhwa (I swear) she is right. So here, you feel that you’re in Kurdistan. And of course nothing is complete in Kurdistan without khwardn (FOOOOD!!!!).

Kabab Yasin

If you know me, and you know me well you would know me and meat are no good friends. In fact sometimes we can even be enemies. But the best kebab I have ever had was right here in Kabab Yasin with NB. What I love about this place is that you don’t call and reserve a table for three. Nor do you have to use full etiquette.  You just go and sit down and eat. Sometimes if the chairs next to you are free (on the same table) some people will come and sit down too.

Food in Erbil’s Qaysari Bazaar.

There isn’t a menu, the man comes and lists few things that is available. You order and after exactly thirty one seconds the food is on your table (with mastaw or coke, but you MUST ask for mastaw. Trust me you won’t regret it. Do me a favour and ask for two!!). The food is prepared live, right in front of you. The taste is spectacular. Kabab Yasin has two shops, the one at the front is for the single people – men! then one at the back is for families. The walls are decorated with pictures, both old and new, of Erbil. The general atmosphere reminds me of the beauties of life, the simple things.

My niw nafar (half person) kebab (KAbab). yes I ate the onions too!

You are there in Kabab Yasin to eat, to enjoy a meal. You aren’t there to show off, to be picky with the food or be in your best clothing. Loved every single second- I must point out I had the greatest company with NB and little Nama! Please keep in mind that Kabab Yasin doesn’t offer cha (tea), so you need to have your cha in one of the other chay xana’s (in the blogs to come I will make sure to give you my recommendation!)

Hygien is no issue here. 

If you have a sweet tooth, the options are infinite, and the colours are surreal. Just take a walk in the little roads until you see then, then follow your taste buds to any sweet that may please  you. I recommend naana qaysi.

Naana qaysi
Colourful sweets in Erbil for the drooling taste buds
beads shop- yup they sells these little treasures too
still can’t rotate! (I know, shame on me!) but this is Kurdish lifka

4 thoughts on “Live from Erbil – Qaysari

Add yours

  1. i have been in hawler for 2 years went to qaysari only once you make me feel guilty that im missing all these beauty
    i will go this friday
    thank you for this posting


  2. These pictures represent some of my favorite things in Erbil. That, and the people. And you, of course. my ole friend.



  3. Miss Mandalawi,
    It is so beautiful the way you write and explain your culture to us

    by the way you need to learn to rotate pictures you make me laugh every time I brake neck trying to see a picture on your blog


  4. Let me start from rotate pic – when you open them in your computer (just as for viewing) there should be the option beneth looking like arrows (sometimes with piramid icon) – try to take a look if you have something like that.

    Well – i always buy sweets there and i agree its the treasure of Hewler and i really dont want this bazaar to disappear. There are nice walls built up around now, so hopefully it will stay on a place.
    About the prices – well, i didnt have problem with that, sellers were ok and even sometimes lower the price themselves, without asking 🙂
    Maybe i will sound like a jash now 🙂 – but till today the best kebab i ate in Slemanyi… But it doesnt mean i love Hewler less because of that 🙂
    And last thing – i saw on your pic that you get the plastic fork for your food :))) – if it comes to eating in Kurdistan or generally kurdish food i am a big enemy of forks and i am the best friend of the eating style when the entire table is messy and nobody cares about it – simply i love it, coz eating should be a pleasure, not a stressful ceremony.
    I am really looking forward to next march…


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