Freekeh: Durum Wheat with Chicken
A Low-Fat Recipe
A predominant wheat of the Middle East, the Durum is a hard wheat of high protein content. It’s more suitable for cooked dishes, and in the production of semolina and pasta, but not flour. It contains 3% more wet gluten than all its other siblings (about 27%). If you deal with gluten issues, you might want to skip this dish.
Freekeh فريكة is an Arabic term that derives from the verb faraka فرك meaning rubbing, which was required by our ancient farmers to bring the green wheat to a savory culinary use. No difference today. The Freekeh cereal you see in the supermarkets today is produced by roasting and rubbing durum wheat in its early green stage, which creates its particular flavor.
A RECIPE WITH A HISTORY
The recipe came to us from the cuisine of our neighboring country, Syria, and it has been so largely popular that we tend to forget its origin.
In many ways and aspects, both our countries have closely interacted for as long as they have existed. Geographically, Phoenicia extended into today’s Syria for thousands of years before it became the beating heart of Byzantine that later fell to the Arab conquest sweeping the region.
At a time, we were both under the same Ottoman ruling for hundreds of years. The fall of the Ottoman Empire to the Allies in WWII surrendered both our countries to one combined French-English ruling for few years before the French took Lebanon and the English ruled Syria.
Geographically, we share most of our borders with Syria, which has made us a very desirable neighboring country.
In the North, our Asi-Orontes Bassin trans-bounds its river outflows into Syria at an estimated 415 million m3/year surface water. (More at “Lebanon Spring of Life.“). Demographically, there have been intermarriages as well as Syrian settlers in Lebanon, and recently a massive number of refugees.
There have been diversified versions of the Freekeh, including in its serving. I am providing you with a Low-Fat recipe and the presentation suitable for a festive meal.
Enjoy and visit me back soon for more recipes and stories. 🙂
Low-Fat Recipe of the Freekeh: Durum Wheat with Chicken
- 500 g Chicken Breasts (cooked) Boil the chicken as per the traditional process with 2 bay leafs, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 grains coriander. Remember to clear it off from the rising foam as they boil.
- 3 cubes Chicken Stock melted in 4 cups of Water
- 2 cups Chickpeas in cans, washed well under running water
- 2 Onions (medium) finely chopped
- 2 cups Durum Wheat washed and drained from water
- 1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
Warm the oil and cook the onions to wither only. Add the Durum Wheat and mix for a minute.
Pour on the chicken broth. Add the chickpeas and the spices, and mix well. Bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer at low heat for 30 minutes or until all the liquid evaporates.
Transfer the Freekeh onto a serving plate.
Part the chicken breasts in chunks and arrange them on top of the Freekeh.
Serve hot with plain yogurt on the side.