Somuch Samach

Masgouf or Samach. Or Barbecued Carp, Iraqi style.

I first had it on a work trip to Amman in 2007, and since then each time I go back there, I am under immense personal obligation to have it at least once.

So it was that two days after coming to Amman this time, me and Dan, a fellow consultant, found ourselves walking off to the Al-Mahar Restaurant.

Al Mahar

The name transliterates as ‘Mat’am Asmaak Al-Mahar.’ Mat’am is restaurant, Asmaak is the plural of samak (which the Iraqis pronounce as samach), and Al-Mahar is Al-Mahar. Although this knowledge is not critical to finding the place or enjoying the fish, you go there so many times, and you feel that you owe it to your self to know these things. There is a lot of obligation when it comes to fish.

First we went to the fish room, where we choose our carp from the pond. This is the pond.

Samach Pond

This is (was) our chosen Samach.

Chosen One.

And then we wait in the restaurant having salad.

Helping us wait

Finally the cooked Masgouf arrives with tandoori bread (we call it naan, they call it khubz).


Here it is from another angle.


And another. Notice that the devouring has begun in earnest.

The devourment begins

And then we are done. Obligation fulfilled. Tea arrives to seal the deed.

Proof of fulfillment

That’s all there is to it, really. Khalaas.