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What is Freekeh? Benefits, Uses and Recipes

Also named as frikeh or farik, it is a type of cereal made from durum green wheat. In a short time, freekeh has gained popularity for its fiber and nutrient content.

If you are interested in learning more about this food, its properties and how to incorporate it into your diet, we invite you to continue reading the article.

A little-known cereal from the eastern Mediterranean

The freekeh is a cereal whose use dates back to a few centuries ago. In some 13th century Baghdad cookbooks, it is already cited by the name of farïkyya. Today, it is a common ingredient in the cuisine of some countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

It is made up of hard green wheat grains that are harvested before reaching the optimum point of maturity. The final drying is done in the sun with an artisan process to rub it and break it into small pieces, similar to bulgur. In this way, it becomes a cereal suitable for human consumption.

It is a grain similar to the European spelled that is used in Italy and Scandinavia. Like her, freekeh is a nutritious and very versatile food in the kitchen. It stands out for a smoky flavor and a firm texture that is perfect both in salads and in stews.

Health Benefits of Freekeh

The nutrient content makes it a highly recommended food. Its consumption within the framework of a healthy diet is advisable and may present advantages for the body.

1. Interesting content of nutrients

The nutritional composition of freekeh is similar to that of other cereals such as rice or wheat. However, in this case the amount of fiber, protein and some minerals stand out.

These are the specific nutritional values of 100 grams of raw product:

  • Energy: 352 kilocalories.
  • Protein: 12.5 grams.
  • Lipids: 4.5 grams.
  • Carbohydrates: 60 grams.
  • Fiber: 11.2 grams.
  • Calcium: 50 milligrams.
  • Iron: 1.8 milligrams.
  • Magnesium: 140 milligrams.
  • Potassium: 500 milligrams.
  • Zinc: 4.12 milligrams.

2. Power source

Foods that provide carbohydrates are an ideal source of energy, especially for children, adolescents, athletes or people with great physical and mental exhaustion. In addition, in the case of freekeh, the glycemic index is low, so it does not produce sudden increases in blood glucose, as it happens with other sources of carbohydrates.

3. Nutrients for eye care

Lutein and zeaxanthin are present in this cereal. Both are plant pigments that accumulate in the macula of the eye and are involved in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration.

4. Contribution of dietary fiber

There are many reasons why it is good to ensure the presence of fiber in the daily diet. One of the best-known reasons is to help improve intestinal transit. But lately there is talk of other positive effects.

The most prominent are its crucial role in the control of body weight and in the prevention of some very prevalent chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

5. Vegetable protein

The protein content of freekeh is similar to that of quinoa. For this reason, it is another food to consider as a source of vegetable protein in vegan diets. However, at the moment it cannot be guaranteed that it contains all the essential amino acids.

6. Freekeh creates a feeling of satiety

Protein and fiber in food help slow digestion, providing a feeling of fullness. For this reason, it can be a good option for those seeking greater appetite control or increasing the time intervals between meals.

Contraindications

Being a derivative of wheat, it is a cereal that contains gluten. For this reason, it is not indicated in the diet of people with celiac disease.

Uses in the cuisine

When you hear about freekeh or when you buy it for the first time, you may have doubts about how to cook it. But do not panic, because in reality its possible uses are the same as those of any cereal.

The Freekeh accurate cooking about 20 minutes with a 2 cups water 1 cup cereal. Once done, the beans are loose and ready to eat. In this way, they can be added to salads, prepare a tabouleh, sauté with some vegetables or serve as a garnish.

In addition, it is also possible to make soups and stews. In this case, prior cooking is not necessary, as it is already prepared with the rest of the ingredients.

Besides, it is always possible to cook it following the traditional recipes and methods of the countries where it is consumed regularly:

  • In Egypt it is prepared with onion, tomato and chicken. It also serves as a sham to stuff pigeon.
  • In Jordan, the freeket lahma is typical, a pilaf with roast lamb, peas and pine nuts.
  • In Syria it is usually cooked with lamb meat and seasoned with cinnamon, pepper, cumin and almonds.
  • The frik chorba is a soup made of tomatoes and green wheat, typical of Algerian cuisine and considered a national dish.
  • Firik is the name it receives in Turkey, where it is known in the southern Anatolia area. It is sometimes combined with bulgur and made with chickpeas, herbs, and spices.

Chicken Freekeh Recipe

A simple and easy-to-prepare dish is freekeh with chicken. It is typical of Lebanese cuisine and is a perfect option to start getting to know this cereal.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • ½ onion.
  • 2 cups of water.
  • Parsley to decorate.
  • 1 cup of dry freekeh.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
  • 4 pieces of boneless, skinless chicken.
  • 100 grams of raw almonds without skin.

Preparation:

  • Start with the preparation of the freekeh. Run it under a stream of cold water until it runs clear. Hydrate with cold water for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve.
  • Next, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed skillet or casserole. Add the onions and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Then pour the reserved freekeh on top and season to taste.
  • Add the 2 cups of water. Cover and cook over low heat until the cereal is tender (approximately 20 minutes). Stir a few times to avoid sticking.
  • Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt, pepper and cinnamon. Once the freekeh is cooked, move to a plate and reserve covered. Clean the pan with a little kitchen paper and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Heat over medium heat and fry the almonds for 3 or 4 minutes. Remove and reserve.
  • Then pour a little more oil (another tablespoon) and cook the chicken for 5 to 7 minutes on one side without turning (the final time depends on the thickness). Flip and cook 3 more minutes or until well done.
  • Serve the chicken on top of the cereal and decorated with the almonds and a little chopped parsley.

Prepare freekeh in many ways and enjoy this cereal

This recipe is a fairly complete dish that can be accompanied by a salad or a vegetable cream. Leftover rations keep well for about 3 days in the fridge, in an airtight container.

You can also cook more servings of freekeh and freeze it cold. Thus, it is ready and available in a short time. Then, you just have to heat it in the pan or microwave and accompany it with meat, fish, egg or mix it with some sautéed vegetables. Always ready to enjoy its delicious taste and all its health benefits.

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