July 14, 2023
It turns out there’s a reason why the bread is so good at Al Basha. The baking roots of the man behind the new Dairy Market stall date back nearly a century. Omar Al Shaban’s grandparents founded what was once one of Iraq’s most famous bakeries, Al Samadi, circa 1948. Now, he is bringing Iraqi food to Charlottesville.
Soft and pillowy, Al Basha’s version of the Iraqi flatbread samoon draws on Al Shaban’s family’s recipe. It serves as the backbone of sandwiches that are already contenders for The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches. Options for fillings include shawarma, falafel, tikka, hummus, or, best of all, Iraqi kabob. Al Shaban follows the traditional method of adding no spices to the ground meat for the kabob — just salt and the juice of minced onions. The meat is then shaped around a skewer and grilled, yielding an unusually tender, meaty kabob. Al Shaban credits the texture and flavor to the quality of the halal meat, sourced from Grand Market, and his blend: 60% beef, 30% lamb, and 10% lamb fat.