WHAT THE FREAK IS FREEKEH?
A SUPERIOR WHEAT
What makes freekeh superior to other wheat foods such as couscous or pasta? Firstly, the grains are picked green before they’re fully mature and then parched, roasted and dried, which results in a nutty and smoky flavour. This process not only gives freekeh its unique flavour, it keeps the nutritional profi le of the young wheat mostly intact. n recent years, an elite team of nutrient-rich fruit, veg, dairy, meat, fish and ancient grains have earned the title of “superfoods”. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and other health-giving properties, and are said to protect against disease and even help you live longer.
The latest grain to earn this title is freekeh (pronounced free-ka), a wholegrain wheat cereal that’s been a staple in the Middle East for more than 2000 years, and is now a staple of health-food stores.
IFreekeh means “to rub” in Arabic, and it’s made by roasting the young grains of durum wheat and threshing them to “rub” away the chaff. What’s left is a toasted grain with a lovely earthy, nutty taste.
Because the grains are still green when they’re harvested, they contain more protein, vitamins and minerals than mature grains. Freekeh is high in calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and magnesium. It also contains four times the fibre of brown rice and more protein than most grains. It has a low GI rating of 43, making it a slow-release energy food that’s ideal for diabetics or anyone on a low-GI diet.
HOW TO PREPARE IT
This versatile grain is great as a side dish, a protein-packed breakfast cereal (see recipe below), served cold in salads or as a substitute for rice or pasta. The cooking process is similar to rice: After being brought to the boil, whole freekeh takes 40-45 minutes; cracked takes 15-20 minutes. Place freekeh and 21/ cups of water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the freekeh is tender.
Drain and serve in bowls topped with berries, banana, seeds and nuts, cinnamon and coconut cream.
Freekeh can be served hot or cold. This recipe is delicious served as a cold cereal in summer, topped with seasonal fruit such as mango, pear, apple or nectarines.