Belila is an Egyptian breakfast made from pearl wheat, anise seed, and toasted nuts.
What is belila?
I know you are probably wondering what belila is. It's an Egyptian breakfast dish (but it's also yummy as a snack or a hearty dessert). If you are somebody who loves rice and grain dishes, this is definitely one for you. Belila is made from pearl wheat, cooked in a light syrup with anise seed and golden raisins, served with chopped toasted nuts and a splash of milk. It's one of my fave Egyptian dishes, after pistachio baklava.
What is pearl wheat?
Pearl wheat looks like pearl barley, but it's not barley. Pearl wheat is white wheat that has had the outer bran husk removed. A pearling machine is used to remove the hull. So it cooks faster than the whole wheat grain and also can be stored longer because it is less likely to spoil when pearled.
This is one of the few places where I think raisins are acceptable because the cooking revives them into plump, delicious morsels. This dish is a little nutty, with a light sweet licorice flavor. Pearl wheat should be available at your local Middle Eastern store. If not, try pearl barley which you can find on Amazon.
- 185 grams (1 cup) pearl wheat
- 500 mL (2 cups) cold water
- 30 grams (3 tbsp) granulated sugar
- 7.5 mL (1½ tsp) anise seed
- 50 grams (¼ cup) golden raisins
- almonds toasted for garnish
- milk (2 % fat) to serve
- In a medium pot, combine the wheat, water, sugar, anise seed, and raisins. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce the heat so that the mixture is just simmering (like you are cooking rice).
- Cook the wheat for about 40 minutes, til the grains are a bit chewy but tender, and the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
- Serve warm in bowls with a sprinkle of chopped toasted nuts and a splash or two of cold milk.
- Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave.