Recipe for Connection: Iraqi Rice & Green Beans

Try Marwa A’s crowd-pleasing dish of great cultural and personal history. 

Like certain songs from long ago, this dish brings back nice memories with my friends and family in Iraq. There, Fridays are like our Saturdays here – the heart of the weekend – and we’d have a full day to relax around the table, talking, laughing, and eating of course! I cannot count many times lunch would last through the afternoon, as we chatted long after our meal had finished. How lovely were those days? The greatest warmth and happiness I had ever known.

Though that time is behind me now, I can feel a similar joy and connection whenever I make this humble and nourishing staple for any meal. Do me a favor if you make this dish, and think about your best memories when you make it, and let that guide your cooking. Maybe you’ll choose a red onion instead of sweet or yellow. Perhaps you want more garlic, or fondly recall a version of this dish with Worcestershire instead of Maggi? This recipe can be special for you, too.

So this dish to me says “weekend” because when I was little, we had no school on Friday, so I would be in the kitchen with my mother as she cooked for me.

I loved it best when she’d make this as a soup, with potatoes and chopped meat that was very filling and also delicious. My favorite is when she used chicken for the broth, especially the thighs that were so tender and took on the seasonings so well. You could smell it cooking from the street, and my friends would all rush in for a taste without even knocking! Then we would go out and play until evening on our full bellies.

I think your kids will like it too, it’s very simple and easy to adjust to their liking. It’s nice, too, how everything is blended in so picky eaters maybe don’t notice ingredients that might put them off in bigger pieces. I serve this dish to complement meat or fish, but vegetarians can enjoy it with other proteins from “Beyond” products to tofu, beans, even nuts are nice. This recipe makes a lot but leftovers reheat well or can be revived as soup (yum!), mixed into any salad, or even folded into eggs for a great breakfast.

It’s hard to think of a more versatile and widely-loved dish in Iraqi cuisine, than Green Beans and Rice. You’ll see it at weddings, holidays, reunions – whenever Arab people gather to celebrate, you will see this dish. When we travel to a friend or family member’s home, someone will bring this dish along because it’s a known crowd-pleaser. I hope you will make it and enjoy it too!

😋 Rice with Green Beans, Iraqi-style ❤️🤍💚🖤
Unlike “snap beans” which are eaten pod and all, the green beans in this recipe are the plump inner seeds of mature pods, similar to lima beans but smaller and sweeter.


2 cups rice (basmati if you have it, rinsed & soaked for 15 mins)

1 ½ lbs fava or broad beans, shelled (fresh or frozen)

A bunch of dill, finely minced

1 large onion, chopped

1 ½ cups water (divided)

1 teaspoon of salt (plus more to taste)

1 Maggi seasoning cube

1 Garlic clove, minced (optional)

Big spoon of oil

Large pot


Heat a spoonful of oil in a large, deep saucepan to medium-high; add onion and garlic and stir for 5 minutes, then add the beans and dill. Stir for two minutes; add 1 cup of water, then add salt and Maggi cube. Stir 2-3 minutes to fully dissolve, then add the rice and a half a cup of water; cover and cook until the water is completely dry. Turn heat to low, and after about 30 minutes it will be ready to serve. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, if you wish.

MEET MAGGI — your secret ingredient for authentic flavor 

Maggi seasoning —  Invented in Switzerland in the late 1800’s, this special blend of chili, cloves, black pepper, cassava, and lovage is umami-rich with a flavor similar to soy sauce (but with its own herbal zing). Found today in cuisines around the world, it’s a salty staple across the African continent and Southwest Asia. Available in three forms: dehydrated cubes, granulated powder and liquid concentrate (which can be used as a table condiment). Substitute equal parts soy & Worcestershire sauce, if you can’t find it, or a bouillon cube of your choice.

Before eating, Arabs say “Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim” which means “In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful”

سم الله الرحمن الرحيم 🙏🍽️

About Marwa A. 4 Articles
Marwa A. is a married mom of two who enjoys writing, cooking and enjoying movies with her family. She lives in Northeast Philly, and came to us via Friends, Peace & Sanctuary Journal (a partner of WHYY’s News & Information Community Exchange).

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.