Freekeh with Lamb and Rhubarb

A succulent dish of slow-cooked lamb with freekeh, a grain made from young wheat, and rhubarb, which is eaten as a vegetable in savory dishes in the Lebanon, Israel, West Bank, Gaza, Jordan and Egypt. An d the beauty of this dish is its versatility; you can switch to chicken or vegetables if you please.

Freekeh with Lamb and Rhubarb
Freekeh with Lamb and Rhubarb

This dish was prepared already during the Ottoman period in the Middle East.

But making it takes you two and half hours and 15 steps. And if you start to experiment, then it might be longer! But it’s a beautiful recipe and everyone’s eyes will popup when you serve it on the table. Not to forget the wonderful smell when you cook it. Keep all males out of the kitchen when you want to surprise them.


  • 30g/1oz/2 tbsp salted butter
  • 240g/8½oz pearl onions or small shallots, peeled
  • 900g/2lb lamb shank(s)
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes or crushed chilli flakes
  • 5cm/2in piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped very finely
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed with the blade of a knife
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp coriander seeds
  • 2.5l/88fl oz/10½ cups vegetable stock
  • 400g/14oz/2½ cups wholegrain freekeh or wholegrain farro, rinsed well
  • 250g/9oz rhubarb, cut into 2.5cm/1in lengths
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 30g/1oz/scant ¼ cup blanched almonds
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander/cilantro leaves, to sprinkle
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Greek yogurt, to serve

    Freekeh with Lamb and Rhubarb
    Freekeh with Lamb and Rhubarb

  1. Melt 20g/¾oz/4 teaspoons of the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium–low heat, and fry the pearl onions for 3–4 minutes until golden.
  2. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.
  3. Rub the lamb shank(s) all over with the allspice and Aleppo pepper flakes and  season to taste with salt and pepper, then transfer to the saucepan.
  4. Return the onions to the pan, and sear the onions and lamb until browned all over.
  5. Remove the shank and set aside on a plate.
  6. Add half the remaining butter to the pan, along with the ginger, garlic, bay leaf and coriander seeds, and cook for 1 minute or so until aromatic.
  7. Return the lamb shank and pour over 1l/35fl oz/4⅓ cups of the stock, then cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1¾ hours, turning the shank around a couple of times during the cooking time.
  8. Meanwhile, put the freekeh in a saucepan and pour over the remaining stock, then cover the pan and bring to the boil.
  9. Reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer for about 45 minutes or until the stock has been absorbed and the grains are cooked through but still have a slight bite to them.
  10. If the grains have not cooked through in this time, but the stock has been absorbed, add a little water as needed.
  11. Once cooked, set aside, covered, until ready to serve.
  12. Just before the lamb stew finishes cooking, melt the remaining butter in a pan over a medium heat, add the rhubarb and toss to combine, then cook for 4 minutes until just beginning to soften.
  13. Spoon the rhubarb into the lamb stew and toss well, then remove the stew from the heat and leave it to sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  14. Toast the pine nuts and almonds in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until golden and fragrant, shaking the pan often.
  15. Transfer the freekeh to a serving plate, top with the lamb and rhubarb, sprinkle with the nuts and coriander/cilantro and serve with yogurt.
Freekeh with Lamb and Rhubarb
Freekeh with Lamb and Rhubarb
Freekeh with Lamb and Rhubarb
Freekeh with Lamb and Rhubarb
Freekeh with Lamb and Rhubarb
Freekeh with Lamb and Rhubarb
Freekeh with Lamb and Rhubarb
Freekeh with Lamb and Rhubarb

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