Cook’s Cupboard: Freekeh

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.

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10 thoughts on “Cook’s Cupboard: Freekeh

  1. I have been trying to source Freekeh in New Zealand for over a year since tasting it in a salad at Cumulus Inc . in Malbourne. The suppliers in Australia say that Marsanta is the New Zealand supplier. I was in touch with them about 9 months ago and have just sent n email off today. Where do you get your supplies. Can it be brought back from Australia.?
    Regards
    Bev

    1. Hi Bev, I buy mine from Shefco Lebanese Cuisine (on Dominion Rd in Mt Roskill) or at Khyber Foods on Stoddard Rd in Sandringham. Not sure where you are, but any good Middle Eastern grocer’s should stock it (there are quite a few on the North Shore and in South Auckland as well as the two I mentioned). I don’t imagine there would be any problem bringing freekeh into the country as long as you declared it at Customs; it’s roasted so I doubt it could pose a risk of sprouting as a crop!

  2. Hi Anna,
    is Freekah different to Bulgar or cracked wheat?i was told they were the same by a health food shop but am now thinking I was misinformed

    1. Definitely different wheat products – here’s a good description of how they differ

      In terms of taste, freekeh has a distinctly nutty, toasted flavour whereas burghul is pretty well bland (but great to soaking up other flavours!) Freekeh needs proper cooking rather than simply soaking in hot water, and it retains more of an al dente texture than burghul which acts like a sponge.

      Hope that helps – they sell freekeh at Shefco on Dominion Rd and I think they also have it on the excellent mymarket website.

    1. Wow,what a difference between the Freekeh and cracked wheat.It tastes really great.It is for the injured daughter,I am sure she will enjoy it !!

    1. Hi Sue

      I’m not up to play with supplies on the Shore, sorry, but there’s an Arab grocer’s I know of which may well stock it: Albazaar, Unit 18, 46 Ellice Road, Glenfield, North Shore City, phone (09) 444-4898
      Anna

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