Meet the Supergrain

Pronounced “free-kah”, it is unripe wheat that’s parched and roasted to burn off the husks. The grain has a wonderfully smoky, nutty (and slightly addictive) nature, PHOTO: Daniella Cheslow

When it comes to food, the world is constantly looking for healthier replacements of core ingredients. So what can you replace a staple like rice or white pasta with? Or how can you keep a watch on your wheat intake? Quinoa had the world raving for a while, yes, but now kitchens are looking at ‘old’ grains. Their versatility, flavor, economic cost, ease to work with, and the accompanying history has chefs across the world looking back to older grains. Like freekeh.

What about it, now? Firstly, it’s just wheat but something more. Wheat that’s harvested while young and green is roasted over an open fire, then the straw and chaff are burned and rubbed off. The grain on the inside is too young and moist to burn, so what you’re left with is a firm, slightly chewy grain with a distinct flavor that’s earthy, nutty, and slightly smoky. For some number crunching on freekeh’s nutrient value, head here. For some recipes, here.

And when you are done thinking fiber and calories, look at the grain’s inherent historic value. Part of the Middle Eastern cuisine for decades before losing its prominence to rice, freekeh is enjoying a revival now.

The renewed interest among Palestinians coincides with rising enthusiasm for the grain from the U.S., Europe and Australia, where nutritionists point to its high protein and fiber content — compared to brown rice — and lower calorie count — compared to quinoa. Among Palestinians, part of the attraction is nutrition, but it’s also about pride in local agriculture.

Read the entire article here.

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