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Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Freekeh - Green Wheat Pilaf

Freekeh (unground)

Serves 6  |  Easy

Freekeh is "cereal food made out of unripened green wheat that is roasted whole throughout its production process" this continuous roasting burns the outer layer covering the wheat, which in turn smokes the wheat giving it its signature smoky flavour.

It is therefore safe to say that Freekeh is Smoked Green Wheat. There are 2 typesof freekeh: the hulled grain, which is left whole (unground) and is used like you would rice. And the half-ground, which produces a fine grain and is used for making freekeh soup. Freekeh is mainly a carbohydrate, but it contains a lot of fiber too, which equalises the carbs, making it a healthier type of carbs to consume. It can substitute rice in many preperations, providing a healthier option. 

Freekeh is popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, especially that of the levant; and is very much so particularly in Palestinian cooking. This dish is especially famous in big events as it is customary to be offered on occasions like Weddings, Funerals, Eid gatherings...etc where one is expected to feed many people.

You can buy freekeh from most specialised herb stores, sometimes found in supermarkets and always in Middle Eastern shops. If you live in Dubai, I always find it in Lifco on Shaik Zayed Road.

This delicious dish is often served with Allayet Bandoora (stewed or Stir-fried Tomatoes)Mloukhieh (stew of Jute Leaves).

There are many ways to prepare the chicken, but I have chosen my family's Best Loved recipe for Grilled Chicken (below). Ty it, you will love this recipe. This is how I prepare Freekeh at home and how I prepared it for Buffets when I used to cater...

Serves 4
For Preparing the Freekeh
You Need
2 cups Freekeh, washed till water is clear
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 cups Chicken broth, or the juices from the grilled chicken used in this recipe
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 tbsp Olive oil
Toasted Nuts for garnish (almonds, pine nuts, &a pistchios)

Wash and drain the Freekeh grains a few times until the water runs clear, discarding any hulls that float to the surface. In a large bowl, soak the Freekeh grains in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In your rice cooking pot, saute the chopped onions and crushed garlic in olive oil, until translucent but do not brown. Add the drained Freekeh and stir to mix all and coat. Season with salt & black pepper and stir to mix.

Add the chicken broth or the juices from the grilled chicken if using. Stir once to mix, then cover the pot and bring to the boil. Continue to boil until the water level drops and you can see the top of the grains. Reduce the heat to low and leave to cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and the Freekeh is cooked through.

Serve hot sprinkled with nuts and topped with roasted/grilled  chicken.

Ramadan Kareem!