O'Keefe in the News

Middle Eastern Inspired Freekeh

Middle Eastern Inspired Freekeh

May 30, 2022

As published in Detroit Lawyer

By Andrew Malec, Ph.D.

Recently, my colleague asked me if I have ever prepared freekeh. She purchased this ancient grain with a recipe that she had in mind, but could not remember the recipe. I told her that I have never prepared freekeh or heard of this grain. In addition to her “joy” of stumping me, she asked me if I could come up with a recipe. As a “foodie,” I was definitely up for this challenge. My mind was “racing” on researching freekeh and thinking about flavor profiles and textures to introduce to the dish.

Freekeh is roasted durum wheat that has been harvested when the seeds are still green. The roasted durum wheat is then threshed and sun-dried to achieve this grain’s flavor, texture, and color. The threshing (“rubbing”) process, of the grains gives this food its name, farik (the Arabic word for “rubbed”). When cooked, freekeh has a nutty taste along with a slight chew. This grain is especially popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. After researching, I knew that I wanted to introduce Middle Eastern flavors in preparing my freekeh dish.

I decided that I wanted to utilize ground meat and introduce typical Middle Eastern seasonings such as cinnamon, cardamom, berbere, cumin, and other spices along with the addition of some pine nuts for texture.

The warmth of the cinnamon and depth of flavor from the other Middle Eastern seasonings complemented the smokiness/nuttiness of the freekeh. Also, ground meat works well in this dish since it blends well with the size of the cooked freekeh to ensure a flavorful bite. I topped the dish with a dollop of plain yogurt and a mint leaf, which really adds to the dish.

I faced two tough judges. My wife (mostly a plant-based eater) and my teenage son (a picky eater) both enjoyed the dish and gave it a thumbs up! My colleague challenged me to make freekeh, and I was up for the challenge. My dish was successful, and I will certainly make this dish again. Hopefully, my colleague will enjoy this dish and find the recipe simple and flavorful.

Perhaps you have purchased a food item for which you are not sure how best to prepare and would like some suggestions. If so, please email me at amalec@okeefellc.com with your food challenge!

If you are so inclined, please give this dish a try. Enjoy!

Middle Eastern Inspired Freekeh