Thursday, June 4, 2009

green wheat with mint

I fear that spouting too much enthusiasm over a grain will forever label me a granola-pushing flower child.

But I cannot help myself. Grains—this one in particular—are my most recent object of culinary adoration/exploration.

Behold frikeh (frik, firik, freekeh), or “green wheat.” I won't both you with its history (ancient), or its method of harvest (toasted over fires in the field!)—if you’re curious, there’s a very comprehensive post here.

In brief, it’s the grain equivalent of the green tomato (i.e. harvested in its immature stage); except, unlike green tomatoes, which have only a whisper of the tomato flavor to come, green wheat possesses a deep, smoky flavor that belies its youth. That, and it’s not often fried—although some green wheat arancini are not out of the question.

I’m not sure quite how to describe frikeh—or how to explain its mysteriously delicious burnt-hay quality. Just get thee to Kalustyan's and discover for yourself.

Green Wheat
Adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, by Claudia Roden

If you’re in New York, check out the green wheat at Back Forty. After their example, we served this with minted yogurt sauce.

1 cup frikeh
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter

Wash the frikeh in 2 or 3 changes of water, then rinse in a colander.

Bring the water with the salt to a boil in a saucepan. Add the frikeh, bring to a boil again, and cook, covered, over low heat for about 15 minutes, or until the grain is tender (add grain if it is too dry).

Stir in the butter and leave, covered, for about 10 minutes before serving.

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