January 26, 2012

Freeket Djaj

Hello, long time I haven't been here.  I tell you something ; am on twitter, and I threw a question haphazardly - asking what should I write  about --  poetry or a recipe...

The overwhelming majority opted for a recipe

So recipe it is, am a democrat by the way, just in case you haven't noticed...but I still have that dictatorial streak in me...I will request you to read my introductory welcome...and if you're too lazy let me sum it up for you --- for any recipe you try out, you are to feed one (or more hungry person). That is the main reason why I started this blog...so you can feed others, but also because I love cooking and would love  to share my recipes with you.

I like things simple and easy..I don't like complications in love and in cooking...somehow they seem to be related. Anyways let's stick to cooking for now.

Freekeh : what does it mean ?  It's the Arabic word for coarse roasted (smoked) green wheat.

Djaj  : means chicken.

So far so good.

A little history about Freekeh. You can actually google it, it's wheat that was first used in 13 century Baghdad, and basically consists of GREEN wheat that is roasted. It has a smokey taste to it.  Freekeh is the Middle Eastern equivalent of Quinoa. It is rich in fibers and very nutritious. It looks like  cracked coarse wheat - known as Bulgur. But it is not Bulgur...it's green wheat that's roasted and gives a distinctive smokey taste.

You can find Freeqeh in almost all Middle Easter grocery shops.  There are two kinds - grounded for soup and coarse. You need coarse for this recipe.
As for the Djaj - here again I like it simple and easy. I usually go for boneless, skinless, chicken breasts...but you can opt for a full chicken instead.


for two people you will need :

- 1 cup to 1.1/2 cup of Freekeh 
- 2 large chicken breasts (skinless boneless in my case - but you can opt for whole chicken)
- 3 cardamom grains
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 onion cut in quarters
- 4-5 grains of cloves
-  2 cloves of garlic minced
-  1 cube of chicken stock if you use chicken filet (disregard if you are using chicken with skin and bones)
-  spices (all the secret is in the spices by the way ) following is approx because I don't use measurements but work with flair /taste.
 *1 small tsp of ground ground caraway 
* 1small  tsp  of ground cinnamon 
* 1small tsp of ground cumin
* 1 tsp of Kabsah Spices  (ready made in any middle eastern grocery shop or in equal parts a mix of black pepper , ground fennel, turmeric/curcuma, all spices, cardamon, ground coriander)
--- don't kill the smoky taste of the freekeh with spices --enough to enhance it but not obliterate it.
* 1tbs full of skinless almonds
* 1 tbs full of pine nuts
* 1 tbs of cooking oil

Make it simple and easy...

Preparation :

- Wash thoroughly your Freekeh and soak in cold water for about an 30 mn to 1 hour
- remember for EVERY CUP of FREEKEH you will need 2 CUPS of CHICKEN STOCK

- in a large saucepan, place your washed chicken with onion quarters, cloves, garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamon grains, cover with generous amount of boiling water, you will be using that stock for the freekeh and  leave to cook until tender and well done. If you are using boneless skinless chicken add a cube of chicken stock for extra flavor.

If you are using a whole or half a chicken, cut it in quarters and  make sure to remove the "grey froth" when boiling. Don't keep it as it gives a rancid taste to food.

in the meantime 

- drain your soaked  Freekeh and use one tablespoon of cooking oil, fry your wheat in it, keep stirring it on a medium fire...
- add your chicken stock, for every cup of Freekeh, you add 2 cups of the chicken stock 
- mix well, add your Kabsah spices, caraway, cinnamon, cumin and keep on a low fire until all liquid is absorbed. about 30-35mn.

- right before it dries up, drain your boiled chicken from the remaining stock (if any left) and put it on top of your cooking Freekeh so it can absorb all the spicy flavors


in a small frying pan ...with a little cooking oil

- fry the almonds until NEARLY golden brown
- add your pine nuts (pine nuts cook much faster than almonds)
- make sure both almonds and pine nuts are golden

serve your Freekeh and chicken and decorate with pine and almonds...you can accompany this with a bowl of yogurt mixed with fresh/dried mint.

 Bon appétit or Sahtein in Arabic and don't forget those who have nothing.