Free-what?? Freekah? Huh??
I promise you I did not make that up. It’s a real thing. Freekah, is green parched wheat that is fire-roasted, super high in fiber and nutrients, and low glycemic. It is served throughout the Middle East, usually stuffed into pigeons, heaven help. Truthfully, I have myself never had it before (the pigeon thing was off-putting obviously), but I must tell you that this stuff is freakin’ amazing! Freekah amazing more like, har har. It is smoky and nutty and chewy and yum.
In this dish, the freekah is first steeped in a flavorful broth made from veggies and another possibly new-to-you item – Persian dried limes. Dried limes, which I think must really be lemons, because limes are rare here, are just lemons (or limes) that sat out so long they became dry and hard. (Much like that petrified orange you found in your child’s backpack on the first day of school after it sat there all summer vacation!)
OK, so I am basically telling you to flavor your dish with rotten food, but it works, you are just going to have to trust me here.
I got the dried limes at my local grocery store, Shufersol, by the G mall in Kfar Saba in the spice kiosk. They look like this:
I got the freekah at Eden Teva market, also in the G Mall in Kfar Saba, in the bulk bins and it looks like this. If you read Hebrew can see that they called it “green wheat” and then, yup, freekah. Told you so. And also see that vegan friendly sticker in the corner? Vegans were here.
If you don’t live here, I am pretty sure these items can be found in either health food stores, Middle Eastern or Indian markets. In a pinch you could use kamut or wheat berries instead of freekah and just leave out the dried lime, but of course that will produce a totally different result.
NOTE: There are a couple of options for preparation here. In the first one, which again came from Joan Nathan’s The Foods of Israel Today, the potato slices are fried in oil and then the freekah is placed on top to steam. This produces a delicious result, no doubt, but for those of you who avoid frying and are trying to cut down on your oil consumption, you can also roast the potato slices in the oven just sprayed with a little oil spray. In that case, you will steam the freekah on it’s own and toss the roasted potatoes into the final dish before serving. Furthermore, if you are avoiding white potatoes for any reason, you could make this with sweet potatoes and that would be delicious also. If you are avoiding wheat, well, just skip this one!
Also, there is a long prep time here so be sure to read the entire recipe before starting this 30 minutes before company is arriving! There is nothing at all difficult or complicated, just that you make a veggie broth and then let it cool and steep for a few hours before proceeding. The broth is incredible so don’t skip this. The whole thing is incredible – I mean, seriously, we were licking the plates here – every flavor is important here, including that fresh mint, so skip nothing people! You will really love this dish!
- 1 onion, chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- oil to saute (or you can water saute)
- 4 stalks fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups water
- 3 Persian dried limes, pierced and/or crumbled a bit
- 1 cup frika
- 2 Tbsp oil (if you are frying the potatoes)
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
- Saute onions, garlic, carrots and celery in water or oil until beginning to soften.
- Add spices, water and dried limes.
- Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes until reduced by half in volume.
- Turn off heat and leave everything in pot to steep for a few hours. The stronger the broth, the better!
- Strain the cooled, steeped broth and throw away the veggies.
- Put the freekah in a mixing bowl.
- Re-boil the broth and pour over the freekah.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap for 30 minutes so the freekah can absorb all of the broth.
- Drain off any leftover broth.
- Heat oil in pan (see the post for alternative instructions if you want to skip frying).
- Scatter the potato slices into the oil and fry until crispy and lightly golden.
- Pile drained freekah on top of the potatoes, cover the pot TIGHTLY and reduce heat to low. The freekah will cook in the steam and be fluffy and delish. This is a good technique for making fluffy rice as well.
- Cook for 25 minutes until the freekah is al dente.
- When ready to serve, flip the pot onto your serving plate so the potatoes will be on top.
- Scrape any crusty bits up and put those on top.
- Top with the chopped mint before serving.
All of my Vegan MoFo posts for 2013 and 2014 can be found by clicking this link: