HomeFood of PalestineMeatFreekeh Salad with Marinated Chicken


Freekeh Salad with Marinated Chicken & Pomegranate Dressing (Salatet Djaj Wa Freekeh)

This dish is what dreams are made of. Freekeh, which is a toasted, cracked green wheat, is simply heavenly. It is used in so many ways and is so good for you. I made this dish many times at my restaurant, Baity Kitchen, I almost couldn’t keep up with myself. The crunchy nuttiness of the wheat contrasts with the sweet, succulent creamy chicken, herby salad and the sharpness of the dressing. It is a combination of ingredients that I would choose to eat as my last meal on earth.

(Recipe and images extracted from Palestine on a Plate: Memories from my mother’s kitchen by Joudie Kalla, photography by Ria Osbourne, published by Jacqui Small (£25)


Serves 4–6

300g (10½oz) coarse freekeh
4 chicken breasts, cut in half lengthways
1 tablespoon dried mint
1 tablespoon za’atar
1 teaspoon dried chilli fl akes
4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
olive oil, for drizzling a large bunch of fresh
flat-leaf parsley, chopped
5 spring onions, chopped
a bunch of fresh chives, chopped
1 pomegranate, seeded
a bunch of rocket
2 red chillies, chopped
sea salt and black pepper

For the dressing:
100ml (3½fl oz) apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 large tablespoon golden caster sugar
juice of 2 lemons
70ml (2¾fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried mint
1 tablespoon za’atar
1 teaspoon sea salt


Boil the freekeh in a saucepan of salted water for about 30 minutes. Check to see if it needs longer as the grain tends to come in diff erent sizes. Remove the pan from the heat, drain and then leave the freekeh to cool down slightly. I like to keep it a little warm so that it soaks up the flavour of the dressing.

Preheat the oven to 190°C fan (210°C/415°F/Gas 6–7).

Put the chicken in a bowl and add the dried mint, za’atar, chilli flakes, and pomegranate molasses, a drizzle of olive oil and season with some salt and black pepper. Mix to ensure it is all coated. Tip the chicken out onto a baking tray, pouring over any excess juices from the bowl as you do. Bake for about 20–25 minutes until cooked through. Slice the chicken into strips lengthways.

Add the parsley, spring onion and chives to the freekeh and mix together. Add the pomegranate seeds, sliced chicken and its juices, the rocket and red chilli and mix well.

Mix the dressing ingredients together and toss them through the salad. Serve this salad in a beautiful bowl, as this dish really deserves it. Add a bit more salt or sugar or whatever seasoning you prefer – it should be made to your taste, but you are aiming for something tangy, sweet and spicy.


Tip: Middle Eastern rocket, jarjir, is bigger, less tough and slightly more peppery than other varieties – you can get leaves that are half the size of your palm! This is the best kind to use if you can find it, but normal rocket is fine if not.