I was introduced to the health benefits of barley when I was expecting my son. I had edema of the feet and was asked to cut off salt completely from my diet. The days that followed weren't fun. Eating seafood especially without salt is terrible for the taste buds but then it was a small price to pay considering that I could have had many other complications like other women were faced with during their pregnancies. God was merciful. My mum fed me a lot of barley water during that time as it is supposed to be very good for overall health especially for those with high blood pressure.
Now if you're wondering why I came up with a health recipe in the midst of all the festive posts, well, the reason is this. Over the past few years as a food blogger I have been inclined towards all things food even on social media. It is almost impossible to dodge the festive posts that bombard one's news feed. In some way I have contributed to this deluge too. However, this time I decided to post as many healthy recipes as possible during the festive season in order to help people with several dietary restrictions and special needs enjoy the season just as well as the rest of us do. Nobody should be deprived of good things to eat especially during the festive season cuz 'healthy' doesn't have to be 'bland and boring'. So here's today's recipe for you. A simple yet delicious pulao or a one pot meal made of an assortment of veggies and barley cooked to perfection in homemade chicken stock (you may use regular water, vegetable stock or coconut milk too!)
I was reintroduced to barley lately when my friend Kavitha spoke about it and urged me to try it. I eyeballed the ingredients and cooked it in a 1:2 ratio (for every 1 cup of barley, use 2 cups of liquid) similar to how we cook rice. Barley is a great replacement to rice and is very beneficial to diabetics as they are often asked to avoid rice. Being an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals amongst a host of health benefits it helps manage blood pressure, keeps the heart and bones healthy and aids weight management and satiety. These are just a few points that I've mentioned here but I urge you to Google some facts about this lovely grain and incorporate it into your diet like I have.
Over the past few years I have introduced my family to different grains, pseudo grains and millets with barley being the latest addition. I am very happy with my experience (as I was with brown basmati) as I simply love its nutty taste. You can cook barley in plain water and add it to soups. Increase the amount of liquid, cook till almost mushy and eat it like a porridge or steam cook in plenty of water, drain and use in salads. In the coming months I will share more recipes with barley so do stay tuned!
Prep time: 5-10 mins | Cooking time: 15 mins | Serves: 2-3
- 1 cup barley
- 2 cups water or stock (chicken or vegetable, freshly boiled * see notes
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 4 fat cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup carrots, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup coriander leaves, chopped
- 5-6 button mushrooms, sliced
- juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1/2-3/4 th cup boneless chicken pre boiled & shredded * optional
- 2-3 teaspoons olive oil (or any other oil)
- salt & pepper to taste
1. Wash the barley in a couple of changes of water till the water runs clear. Keep aside.
2. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and toss in the garlic and fry for a few seconds. Add in the chopped onions and fry till they turn pale.
3. Add the chopped carrots, celery and mushrooms and fry for half a minute. Add the washed barley and mix. Toss in the chopped coriander and chicken if using
4. Add the freshly boiled water or stock and adjust seasoning (salt & pepper to taste). Add the lime juice too.
5. Cover the pressure cooker and place the weight (whistle). Cook on full heat for 2 whistles and then turn off the heat. Let the cooker cool down to room temperature (whistle should be loose enough to be removed)
6. Open the cooker and fluff up the grains. If the grains feel a little tough and there is still some liquid/moisture left, cover the cooker and heat it for another 5 minutes on sim (very low heat so that the whistle doesn't go off) and let the cooker cool down once again to room temperature before opening it.
7. Serve hot with yogurt or any veg or non veg curry of your choice.
1. If you are using stock, make sure it is homemade and free of preservatives - this is to ensure that you make it as healthy as possible.