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Freekeh Pilaff

Freekeh Pilaff

There is a lot to love about freekeh. It cooks up in about 25 minutes, and it’s light, like coarse bulgur, which it resembles, except that the color is darker and greener.

But freekeh has a more complex flavor than bulgur. What stands out is its smokiness, a result of the production process, in which durum wheat — the type used for many pastas — is harvested while still green and soft, and carefully roasted in the husk over open fires. The wheat is beaten to remove the chaff, and in the Middle East it is sold whole or cracked.

Serves 2–4


2 medium onions, thinly sliced
25g butter
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
150g freekeh
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
270ml good-quality reduced vegetable stock
100g Greek yoghurt
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
10g parsley, finely chopped, plus extra to garnish
10g mint, finely chopped
10g coriander, finely chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted and roughly broken salt and black pepper


Place the onions, butter and olive oil in a large heavy-based pot and sauté on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15–20 minutes. or until the onion is soft and brown. Meanwhile, soak the freekeh in cold water for 5 minutes. Drain in a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Drain well.

Add the freekeh and spices to the onions, followed by the stock and some salt and pepper. Stir well. Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat to a bare minimum and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and leave it covered for 5 minutes. Finally, remove the lid and leave to pilaf to cool down a little, about another 5 minutes. While you wait, mix the yoghurt with the lemon juice, garlic and some salt. Stir the herbs into the warm (not hot) pilaf. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Spoon onto serving dishes and top each portion with a generous dollop of yoghurt. Sprinkle with pine nuts and parsley and finish with a trickle of olive oil.

Courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi, Plenty, p. 241

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