Whether you like to spell it “Freekeh” or “Frikeh”, or if you prefer to call it “Farik” (as per its Arabic name, Farikah), this cereal food has been a staple of the Middle Eastern diet for centuries – and it’s now being discovered by the rest of the world as a great healthy food option. Quite similar to bulgur, which is used in tabbouli, freekeh is made by harvesting the wheat while the grains are still yellow and seeds are soft, roasting or sun-drying and threshing it, and then cracking it. It’s traditionally served with meats and vegetables, cooked with water and spices, but in the modern day this is a delicious addition or accompaniment to salads, soups, and stews – and pretty much anywhere you might want to use quinoa. In fact, freekeh has been said to seriously dominate quinoa as far as nutritional values go, since this low-fat, high-protein and high-fibre supergrain also has a low glycaemix index – the only way quinoa has an upper hand is if one doesn’t consume gluten, since freekeh is still made of wheat.
How do you use it?
Since freekeh easily takes on the flavour of the foods its served or prepared with, it’s great for use in both sweet and savoury dishes. It’s probably easiest used anywhere you’d normally use a whole grain – so you can use it to replace rice, quinoa, bulgur, and so on. You can add cooked freekeh to your salads, cook it to be used in anything from burritos and stews to soups, wraps, and more, stuff peppers or “koosa” with it, or make it into porridge. You can also try it a hot breakfast cereal in place of steel cut or whole oats, or create a “freekeh fried rice” or pilaf. If you really want to get creative, you can even use it in pancake and waffle batter, by adding cooked freekeh to or blending it with a flour like chickpea flour or coconut flour, for a grainy and nutty texture-filled option that goes well with both sweet or savoury toppings.
Freekeh was reportedly first discovered back in 2300BC, when a city that the grain was growing in was held under siege and had to harvest their crop earlier than normal. Their wheat was, according to the story, set on fire during the attack – and when the villagers later removed the burnt outer layers while trying to see what they could salvage, they discovered the edible green grain underneath. While this was in the Mediterranean, in the modern day, Australia is one of the world’s biggest producers of Freekeh.