Mellanöstern och Nordafrika Tidningen
Published On: Mon, Mar 9th, 2015

Meet Hadi Ajil, the man behind the successful clip that shook all Iraqis

Hadi Ajil is an Iraqi man who created a video in which he demonstrated how to prepare Qaimar – the most famous and typical Iraqi breakfast dish. It all started with relatives asking for the recipe that he has long kept close to his heart. 

Because Hadi Ajil was known for preparing Qaimar in a simple and tasty way, his relatives asked of him to share the recipe. And that’s how it all took off.

– I created the video and my son was given the mission of sending it to our relatives and friends. Later he asked me if I wanted to share it on a Facebook page for Iraqis in Sweden and I agreed, Hadi says.

As the video was uploaded, Hadi received a lot of positive feedback from people who thanked him for sharing the recipe. It spread like wildfire, not only in Sweden but across the world. People from other parts of Europe, Canada, Australia, Turkey and Iraq contacted Hadi on Facebook to thank him personally.

 

– It made me very happy to see that so many people had watched the video and that they were positive about it. The way in which they thanked me was beautiful, too. They’d say things like ”God bless you”, ”you have a golden heart” and ”may you live long”. Those words warmed my heart, Hadi continues.

Hadi Ajil preparing for a video.

Hadi Ajil preparing for a video.

Positive feedback

Following the positive feedback, Hadi was inspired and motivated to continue creating videos in which he cooks Iraqi food. He has now created three clips about different dishes including everything from cheese to sweets and breakfast.

– Cooking is my hobby. I don’t always cook, but when I do it turns out really good. When you put your soul into something, it shows in the result.

Hadi adds that he likes cook on his own. If his wife offers a helping hand it doesn’t take long before he ushers her out of the kitchen and asks her to do something else until he has finished. He prefers to concentrate completely on that which he is creating and that’s why he becomes distracted if someone joins him in his cooking process.

– My kids are usually the ones to follow up on the the uploads as well as read the comments posted on my videos. And they call me to tell me about them.

Hadi Ajil.

Hadi Ajil.

Hadi laughs and continues:

– I hope my daughter doesn’t fail at school as she spends most of her days reading comments.

He says his family is very proud of him. His eldest son is very supportive and has created a group on Facebook where Hadi shares his videos and communicates with his followers. His wife and daughter are also very proud. They always offer moral support so that he may develop his skills and share more recipes.

The Qaimar success

Hadi explains that his Qaimar recipe became a success not only because it was simple but because of its relation to Iraqi culture and history. There certainly is no Iraqi family that hasn’t tasted or eaten Qaimar, regardless of where in the world they live.

– It’s not only a dish. It’s our tradition and culture. Our heritage. It is memories brought to life, families gathering to share breakfast. It is a feeling of love and togetherness, Hadi argues.

Qaimar (as prepared by Hajer Mohsen) served alongside pastry and syrup. Photographer: Aiya Mohsen.

Qaimar (as prepared by Hajer Mohsen) served alongside pastry and syrup. Photographer: Aiya Mohsen.

He says that during Eid – the first day after Ramadan – the father or the eldest son of each family usually bring Qaimar with them for breakfast after having prayed in the mosque early in the morning. The family then gathers to eat together and to celebrate the end of the fasting month.

– I remember when I used to live in Iraq how my mother would ask us children to go to the bakery to buy bread. But if “umm el-leben” (the woman who’d sell dairy products) wasn’t near the bakery we’d send our younger siblings; it was no use going there if we couldn’t buy Qaimar from her to eat with the newly baked bread on our way home.

Hadi believes that the video became successful because it brought back the childhood memories of many Iraqis. All over the country the dish would gather people and families for breakfast. Qaimar thus became a symbol for community and culture.

– One of my favourite comment which I cannot forget was the one I received from a man who said: ”Leget el tayha?”. It means ”Did you find the lost one?”. That specific sentence means a lot to me as it reveals that he has been searching for a simple Qaimar recipe for quite a long time. It makes me happy that people feel that way, Hadi says.

Hadi also claims that his recipe became specifically popular because of how he rolled the Qaimar. He taught his viewers how to roll them in a simple and elegant way rather than to just cut them in squares before serving.

This is Qaimar (cooked milk and double cream) as prepared by Hajer Mohsen. Photographer: Aiya Mohsen.

This is Qaimar (cooked milk and double cream) as prepared by Hajer Mohsen. Photographer: Aiya Mohsen.

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Future videos

 – I my coming videos I will make ”Torshi”, ”Amba” and ”Falafel”. I also have a few ideas on how to improve and develop my clips. I will first create a video in which I cook Torshi so that people learn how to prepare it in time for Ramadan. That way they’ll have a snack for the evening after breaking the fast.
[Click here to join Hadi Ajil’s group on Facebook]

Translation: Reine Hayek

 

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