One of the things I decided on, when the year 2015 began, was to try out as many new (to me) foods and drinks as I could. Another decision was to learn how to cook with as many new (to me) ingredients as I could. Recently, when I spotted a packet of barley in a departmental store, the latter decision was what I had in mind. Curious and eager to try it out, I got it home.
I have never had barley before – except for lemon barley water, which tastes lovely – so I had no clue what to expect in terms of taste. I had no clue about how to cook it, either. The Internet came to the rescue. I found several recipes for barley-based dishes, many of them slow-cooked stews or soups that make for a one-pot meal. Most sounded promising, but I was in no mood to cook the barley for close to two hours, as they seemed to suggest. So, I decided to make a sort-of fast, one-pot barley khichdi, with little touches adapted from several Internet recipes. I decided to pressure cook the barley, to make the process faster, instead of letting it slow cook in a pan. Also, instead of the basil and oregano that many recipes suggested, I decided to use ajwain aka omam, fresh coriander and mint. The result was, I must say, quite good!
Barley has a number of health benefits, and it is good to include them in your diet every once in a while. I know I am going to, henceforth.
Here is how I made the khichdi..
Ingredients (for 2 people):
About 100 grams of barley
3 green chillies, slit lengthwise
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 medium-sized onion, peeled and chopped finely
1 small-sized capsicum, chopped finely
A handful of shelled green peas
1 small-sized carrot, peeled and chopped finely
2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
A few fresh mint leaves
A pinch of asafoetida
1 teaspoon oil
Salt, to taste
Red chilli powder, to taste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ajwain (omam)
- Soak the barley for about half an hour in just enough water to cover it. Keep aside.
- Grind the garlic and ginger into a paste in a mixer. Add a little water if required.
- Heat the oil in a small pressure cooker. Add the mustard seeds, and allow them to splutter. Then, add the asafoetida and the ajwain. Ensure that the ajwain doesn’t get burnt, otherwise the dish might get bitter.
- Now, add the onions. Saute for a minute or two, till the onions begin to turn brownish.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste. Saute for a minute or two.
- Add the finely chopped carrot, capsicum and green peas. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Drain off all the excess water from the barley, and add it to the vegetables in the pressure cooker.
- Add salt, slit green chillies, red chilli powder, and turmeric powder. Mix well.
- Add just enough water to cover the barley and vegetables, along with the chopped tomatoes. Mix well. Let it cook on a high flame for about 2 minutes.
- Now, add the chopped coriander leaves and lemon juice. Shred the mint leaves with your hands and add them to the pressure cooker. Mix well.
- Close the pressure cooker and put on the whistle. On a high flame, let it cook for 4 whistles.
- Once the steam has released entirely, open the pressure cooker. Serve hot.
Do you use barley at home? How do you cook it? Tell me! I’d love to know!