There is something fascinating about the aroma of breads and pastries, especially if they are fresh out of the oven. Researchers believe that the smell of bread makes us kinder to strangers, and evokes a homely feel that makes a place warm, open, and welcoming. And that is exactly what Ali Mohammed Ritha Jawad Al Turihi, owner of the Baghdad Bakery is all about — to serve you bread and a whole lot of love.
Al Turihi is an Iraqi dreamer with a giant heart who loves cooking and baking bread. He was born in a town called Kufa, south of Baghdad in Iraq. He moved to Baghdad to finish his education. At the age of 18, he travelled to England to study piloting, then lived most of his life in the city of London. Though he’s been in the airplanes industry, his true passion has always been in the kitchen, making succulent treats for himself and his friends, as his heart truly belongs to food.
In 2010, Al Turihi came to Oman seeking a different kind of business. He wanted something unique and interesting, something a bit more alive, and which involved making delicious edible creations. Luckily, he found a brand new bakery on sale and decided to embark on a new journey, a journey of bread-making, and that’s how Baghdad Bakery came to life.
Baking wasn’t his cup of tea, but still, Al Turihi’s courageous personality made him dive deeper into a foreign field of expertise and learn every single bit about making these doughy creations. He learned from the bakers that he hired, as well as a ton of cookery and baking books, and given the fact that he’s a self-taught baker, his work is by the book, but with his own touch that doesn’t compromise on taste and great quality.
“It’s my nature to produce good food,” said Al Turihi, adding with a laugh, “I like the customers to eat what I eat, and fortunately what I eat is good.” Baghdad Bakery is the only Iraqi bakery in Muscat that offers a variety of exclusive and traditional Iraqi treats, such as Iraqi bread and barley bread. Other types of breads include samoon bread, Lebanese bread, focaccia, baguette, and briskets.
All breads come in either white or brown flour, and are all handmade. And, he also makes sweets and Arabic desserts that are any food connoisseur’s delight. His bakery attracts people from across town, from Seeb to Al Amerat, who not only come to have a true taste of Iraqi baking, but to also see the baker himself, who has mastered the art of greeting people, as he welcomes them with an open heart and positive energy, and bakes the goods alongside his bakers, which is rare in this part of town.
“I’d rather lose a 1,000 rials not to upset a customer, because I’m sure in the next five years he’s going to bring me 5,000 rials rather than what I’ve lost,” Al Turihi explains as he removes a tray of aromatic, freshly baked bread from the oven.
What’s his favourite part of being a successful, authentic baker in Oman? “People’s appraisal fuels to progress.” The brand that he has established has become known across town, and he’s opening up a couple of more stores around Muscat soon. We cannot wait to see what new experiments and Iraqi treats Al Turihi will have in store for us, because they are downright delicious. “Believe it or not, it’s only flour, water, and yeast, but it’s amazing what you can do with it!”