Despite it’s name, this Middle Eastern grain isn’t weird, or a bit scary. Even so, I haven’t come across it for sale here in Auckland, but I remember eating it at Lebanese restaurants when I visited Bahrain a few years ago, and am now on the lookout after seeing a delicious-looking freekeh and poached chicken dish served up on the Syrian episode of the Maeve O’Meara-fronted Aussie food series Food Safari. The interweb tells me it’s a cereal made by sun-drying then roasting green wheat. The seeds are subsequently rubbed and broken into smaller pieces, somewhat akin to burgul.
It’s only a matter of time before it hits the shelves here in NZ though, I’d say. That’s because overseas it’s being touted as the latest ancient-grain-slash-superfood, joining quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat et al on the pedestal of low-GI, mineral-rich carbohydrates we’re allowed to feel virtuous about eating.
The dish I liked on Food Safari involved poaching a whole chicken in a fragrantly spiced bath, then tearing the chicket apart roughtly before frying the pieces in a little butter. The freekeh is then cooked with ladlefuls of the chicken stock so that the grains expand, and remain fairly moist ready for serving. The chicken is served on top of a pile of freekeh and scattered with toasted almonds. Mmmmmmm.