Grains

Grains

By
Greg Malouf, Lucy Malouf
Contains
7 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742708423
Photographer
Alan Benson

If there is one foodstuff than can be said to be a universal staple it must, surely, be the plant group called grains. Staple cereal grains, such as wheat, rice and corn, have been cultivated for many thousands of years, with some historians even arguing that it was this very act that civilized humankind, forcing us to abandon our wandering ways and settle down to farm.

In the countries of the Middle East, wheat and rice are the main staples, with wheat tipping the scales as the main grain of choice. This is possibly because rice is not an indigenous crop, while wheat originates in the region (in the Fertile Crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers).

Wheat is a hugely versatile grain that can be eaten in many different ways. The whole grains (with the husk and outer bran still intact) are used in pilafs and stuffings and as a base for cold salads. Refined grains have their outer husks removed, making them faster cooking, and ideal for creamy, porridge-like dishes. Both these types of whole grain are frequently paired with beans, pulses or dairy (or animal protein) for a more complete meal. Milled grains are those that are flattened into flakes, ground into meal or, at the furthest extreme, into flour for our daily bread

The grain that is most readily identifiable as Middle Eastern is probably burghul – or bulgur wheat – thanks to its use in the ubiquitous salad, tabbouleh. Bulgur wheat is cracked and roughly ground, making it quicker to cook and giving it a lovely nutty, earthy flavour. In addition to being a main part of all kinds of cold salads, we also love to use it in patties, stuffings and hearty pilafs.

In this chapter we also offer Middle Eastern-inspired recipes for ancient strains of wheat, such as farro and freekeh, and for the tiny seeds called quinoa (although the latter originates in South America!). These starchy grains are all at their best when used as a blank canvas for carrying stronger flavours. Whether in hot, hearty dishes or in cool salads, we like to team them with punchy olives, the acid sharpness of tomatoes and citrus, vibrant herbs and palate-provoking spices, finishing with a generous slick of olive oil. This approach brings their more subtle flavour to life and enhances their robust, chewy texture.

Recipes in this Chapter

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