Curried Freekah with Cauliflower, Mango & Cashews

Here’s a term you can casually drop into the conversation at your next cocktail party–freekah. What is freekah and how would you use it in a sentence? Freekah is a wholegrain superfood that’s commonly used in the Middle East. It comes from the same grain as brown rice, but it’s harvested earlier in the lifecycle when the wheat is still young and green. The young wheat is roasted, which burns off any chaff and leaves behind a pale green freekah kernel. This process preserves many of freekah’s superfood qualities–high in fiber, great source of vegetarian protein and chock-full of vitamins such as selenium, potassium and magnesium. So the way you use it in a sentence would be to interject when some friend brags about eating quinoa. “Quinoa is so over, it’s all about freekah now. It’s this crazy Middle Eastern whole grain that has all these superfood powers. i made this amazing curried freekah recipe earlier this week. Let me send it to you.”

freekah grains
freekah grains

I discovered freekah when I was browsing Well+Good NYC’s feature on a new restaurant in Tribeca called Mulberry & Vine that specializes in “sexy spa cuisine”. The story came with an accompanying recipe for one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, the curried freekah with cauliflower, mango and cashews. I was immediately intrigued by the novelty of this exotic grain I’d never heard of and carefully planned my grocery shopping to try out the recipe. I thought sourcing the freekah would be difficult, but Whole Foods has it readily available alongside quinoa, bulgur and rice in its grains section. It was pretty easy to make, although there is a lot of prep involved. The recipe requires that you soak the freekah in water overnight, and there’s a lot of roasting going on with the separate dish components (you have to roast the cauliflower and then the cashews if you bought just regular raw ones). If you’re short on time, I’d advise that you substitute brown rice for the freekah to cut out the soaking in water bit, and roast the cauliflower and cashews separately ahead of time.

mix up the freekah, cauliflower and mangos
mix up the freekah, cauliflower and mangos
the finished product
the finished product

I thought the dish was flavorful yet healthy, sort of what you’d expect from sexy spa cuisine. I feel like Gwyneth Paltrow would approve of this dish and might feature it in GOOP one day. I’d definitely make it again because I’ll have whatever Gwyneth Paltrow is having–as annoying and out of touch as she is, she looks amazing. Below is the recipe that was posted on Well+Good NYC.

Mulberry & Vine’s Curried Freekah with Cauliflower, Mango & Cashews
From Well+Good NYC

Ingredients
2 cups uncooked freekah
1 tablespoon peanut oil (can substitute with vegetable oil)
1/2 head small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup toasted unsalted cashews, chopped
1 medium mango, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preparation
Soak the freekah overnight in plenty of water. Rinse and add to pot covered with plenty of water.

Bring to boil and cook, uncovered, until freekah is tender, about 45 minutes. Drain in large fine-mesh strainer or colander; spread on prep baking sheet. Cool while preparing salad ingredients.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss cauliflower with 1 tablespoon peanut oil, 1/2 tablespoon curry powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Roast for 20 minutes until tender and browned in places.

If you haven’t roasted the cashews already, roast the cashews on a baking sheet in the oven at 425 degrees for 7 minutes.

Transfer cauliflower to large bowl, add rice, cashews, mango, chives, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to bowl. Meanwhile saute other half of curry powder briefly in a bit of oil until fragrant (1 minute) and toss into bowl thoroughly to combine. Let stand 20 minutes to blend flavors and serve.

Yields about 6-8 small individual servings.