Creamy freekeh with mushrooms and chicken

Freekeh (pronounced free-ka or free-keh) is one of the ancient grains popular in Syria, the Levant and in North east Africa.

Simply put, Freekeh is roasted green wheat. The grains are harvested while still soft, young and green, then parched, roasted, rubbed to get rid of burnt husks then the grains are dried.

The name Freekeh is actually Arabic for (that which is rubbed)

Freekeh has at least four times as much fibre as some other comparable grains, and consists mostly of insoluble fibre. It also has a low glycemic index and is very high in protein.

These kinds of fusion recipes are quite popular in fancy restaurants here in Syria. This one in particular is either called Freekoto (a play on freekeh and risotto) or (freekeh bil fakhara) which means freekeh cooked in a clay pot because restaurants often serve this in clay pots for that traditional Syrian touch.

In this dish, the freekeh adds texture and a nutty earthiness that balances the cream well. The mushrooms and chicken add layers of flavor.




2 to 3 table spoons olive oil

1 medium onion chopped

500 g skinless boneless chicken cut into cubes

fresh button mushrooms chopped

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon all spice

3 cups coarse freekeh

5 cups water (or chicken stock)

500 ml cooking cream

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese



1.Place the freekeh in a bowl, wash it 2 to 3 times till the water runs clear.Refill the bowl and set the freekeh to soak for 15 min

2.In a pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and onions and stir till for 3 to 5 min

3.Add the mushrooms. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes

4.Add the chicken and cook till golden

5.Drain the freekeh and add it to the pot with the salt, cardamom and all spice.

6.Add the water, lower the heat to medium low, cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes or until the freekeh absorbs the water and is cooked through

(If you find that the freekeh is still under cooked, add an additional cup of water and cook for an additional 7 to 10 minutes)

7.Add the cheese and cream, stir to combine, cook for 3 to 5 minutes and then turn off the heat and cover the pot. Set aside for 15 minutes.


Lara Khouli