Closed April 2017
Leyali is the first and only Iraqi restaurant in Madrid. To make it even more of a discovery, it’s actually disguised as a Turkish restaurant. Look closer at the illuminated picture-aided menu outside and you’ll realise that the food is a little more exotic.
Leyali is run by a family from Iraq who arrived in Madrid around eight years ago, and in 2015, they opened up serving food from their country. Many of this restaurant’s dry ingredients (herbs, spices, preserves) are brought over directly from Iraq, and the family also has a shop on C/ Amparo, just up the road, where all of these products can be bought.
The dining style here is about sharing, so here are some recommendations for a group of 4:
Falafel: This is by far the best falafel I’ve found in Madrid so far. It’s soft, fresh and not dry, and comes with a wonderful mango sauce to compliment the savoury edge.
Sembuse: Four delicate mini samosas containing finely chopped veg and black lentils, served on a bed of deliciously dressed lettuce.
Uruk: Large-grain bulgur wheat fritters – like a collection of mini vegan burgers.
Iraqi Salad: Rocket, fenugreek, feta, avocado, green olives and nuts with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing.
Full (pronounced ‘fool’): A hot soup of whole fava beans with a sprinkle of a mint-like herb from Iraq.
Babaganoush: Baked and blended aubergines with tahini and olive oil – the flavour is deep and smoky and rivals any other babaganoush I’ve tried in Madrid.
Baklava: There’s also a huge range of sweet Middle Eastern pastries to choose from called Baklava, and a fantastic cocktail and shisha menu. Every now and then, there’s a Turkish bellydancing night too.
I’ve eaten here a lot and can vouch for everything else on the menu, so bring all your friends and order as much as you can fit on the table, and if not, grab another table.