This dish is adapted from on one I saw in the Syrian episode of SBS’ Food Safari dvd series.
You basically treat the wheat product freekeh as you would burghul or rice – that is, you can cook it by steaming with the ratio of around 1:2 freekeh to liquid. Here I’ve cooked it in chicken stock which makes for a flavourful, but quite rich, pilaf. A lighter version would be made using half stock half water.
Fragrant poached chicken on freekeh pilaf
-Poach a whole free-range chicken for 20-25 minutes in water with 3tsp baharat (new post coming soon on this Arabic spice mix) and 3tsp salt, until just cooked through. Set the cooked chicken aside and reserve stock.
-In a large pot, fry a large onion, 4 cloves garlic (both sliced), 1/2 cup sultanas, 2 tsp baharat in olive oil until the onion is just starting to caramelise, then set aside. Add to the pot some more olive oil and then 2 cups freekeh (rinsed and picked through for any stones or stalks), stir the freekeh through the oil then add 4 cups of the chicken stock. Place a lid on and bring to the boil, let boil for 2 minutes then turn the heat right down and let steam with the lid on for around 30 minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit for another 10 minutes before stirring through the onion mix.
-Break the whole chicken roughly into sections – whole legs, wings, breasts – and fry lightly in a little butter so the skin crisps up. In another pan toast 1/2 cup shaved almonds or a mix of shaved almonds and pine nuts if you’re feeling rich. ($100/kilo! But try Sandringham shops where you can sometimes get them for $70/kilo.) Spoon the freekeh out onto a big platter so it makes a nice big mound. Place the chicken pieces on top and then scatter over the toasted nuts.
-Serve with plain yoghurt topped with sumac and a nice baby spinach salad or steamed greens such as spinach, watercress or kale.
* Check out my earlier blog on freekeh