Freekah, Tomato & Chickpea Pilaf. The perfect vegetarian comfort food full of fresh flavours.
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
4 large onions, 1 diced and 3 halved and very thinly sliced into half-moons
2 tablespoons tomato purée
50g unsalted butter
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can chickpeas, drained
400ml chicken or vegetable stock
Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
150ml Greek yogurt
handful of chopped coriander or parsley
Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the cumin seeds and dry-toast for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan until they release their aroma and begin to brown a little, taking care not to let them burn.
Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan, add the diced onion and fry for 6–8 minutes, or until softened. Add the tomato purée and dissolve it into the onion mixture, adding a little more oil if needed, then add the freekeh and butter and stir well until the freekeh is evenly coated in the onion mixture and the butter has melted. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the canned tomatoes and chickpeas and mix well.
Pour in the stock and the water and season with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Cover the saucepan with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook for 20–25 minutes without disturbing the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside, leaving the lid on.
Meanwhile, prepare the fried onions for a garnish. Line a plate with a double layer of kitchen paper. Pour enough vegetable oil into a saucepan to fill it to a depth of 1cm and heat over a high heat. Add the sliced onion and fry for 8–10 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy – avoid stirring or they will start to caramelize. Remove the fried onions with a metal slotted spoon and transfer to the paper-lined plate to drain.
Add half the fried onions to the freekeh and, using a fork, gently comb through the freekeh to stir in the onions and fluff up the grains and chickpeas. Arrange the freekeh mixture on a wide, flat platter. Dot with the yogurt and scatter the remaining fried onions and coriander or parsley on top. This is also good drizzled with your favourite chilli sauce.
To make this a vegan recipe, omit the butter, and substitute coconut or soya yogurt for the Greek yogurt.
This is an extract from Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour, published by Hachette Australia, Hardback RRP $39.99. Photos by Kris Kirkham.