I first learned about freekeh from the American food writer Paula Wolfert. She had encountered it over the years while traveling around the Eastern Mediterranean and was gung-ho about spreading the word. Ms. Wolfert, never shy about proclaiming the virtues of a beloved ingredient, made the Western food world sit up and listen.
Freekeh, long in use throughout the Middle East and North Africa, was relatively unknown in the United States; now it is widely available and prized as a high-protein “supergrain.”
I bought a package recently and fell in love again. Somehow I had forgotten its allure — the pale greenish tint of the grain, the smoky aroma, the nutty flavor and pleasantly chewy texture.
She directed me to her website, where a post depicts Syrian farmers setting piles of green wheat stalks on fire. The blackened grain is then tossed in the air to let the wind help winnow it. Afterward, the fire-roasted grains are dried.
The technique varies regionally. Not all freekeh is fire-roasted and some is picked less green. But Ms. Helou likes hers very green and burned; she also prefers cracked freekeh over whole grain. I cooked freekeh every day for a week while testing this recipe and came to the same conclusion.
Freekeh is cooked in a pot on the stove like rice. It can be prepared with water, but tastes best cooked in broth, seasoned with allspice and cinnamon. Though some prepare it as a salad, Ms. Helou and I agreed that it really shines served warm.