Tag Archives: Pearl barley

Diabetic Friendly, Rice Free, Bisi Bele Bhath

Rice Free Bisi Bele Bhath

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Diabetic Friendly, Rice Free, Bisi Bele Bath








The other day, I had my friend Shamala and her husband Bachu over for dinner. Both have diabetes and Shamala doesn’t eat rice.

I decided to make bisi bele bhath, the famous one-pot meal of rice, lentils and vegetables from Karnataka.

Kind of ironic since Shamala doesn’t eat rice, right?! Well, in my kooky version, rice is replaced with diabetic friendly pearl barley and pearl millet (bajra).

Now I make bisi bele bhath (with rice) quite often and, if I am allowed to boast a little, today’s diabetic friendly version is just as good – if not better – than the traditional one. The best part, it got full marks from Shamala and Bachu who loved it.

some of the words I would use to describe bisi bele bhath: comfort food, crowd friendly, healthy, nutritious, balanced, delicious, satisfying

A couple of points on the vegetables and spice mix used in this recipe.

You can use any vegetables of your choice but avoid sticky ones like okra.

The traditional recipe does not call for onion or garlic so I have not included them either.

For the spice mix, I have used MTR bisi bele bhath masala. If you can’t get hold of it or want to make your own powder at home, click on this link and have your pick from the list of recipes.

Serve this with some savoury boondi or potato wafers/chips/straws and a dollop of ghee.

I didn’t serve any starters, just some Bombay mix with beer and wine. But I did make a diabetic friendly dessert which is coming up next!


3/4 Cup tuvar dal (pigeon pea)

1/4 Cup pearl barley

1/4 Cup pearl millet

1 Tablespoon fenugreek seeds

1 Green pepper

4 Ripe tomato

100 Grams french beans

100 Grams shelled green pea

1 Large carrot

1 Small head cauliflower

1 + 1 Teaspoon turmeric powder

1 Tablespoon rasam powder (optional)

2 Tablespoons bisi bele bhath powder

2 Tablespoons tamarind paste

1 Tablespoon mustard seeds

A large pinch of asafoetida

15-20 cashew

15-20 Curry leaves

1 Tablespoon oil

Boondi to sprinkle on top

Ghee to drizzle on top


  1. Wash and soak the tuvar dal, pearl barley and pearl millet along with fenugreek seeds for 6 hours.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder and salt to taste and boil the lentil and grains till they are soft and mushy. You can either do this in a pressure cooker or on stove.
  3. Now prep the vegetables.
  4. Chop the cauliflower into bite size pieces. Use the leaves and stalk if tender.
  5. Wash the green pea.
  6. Top, tail and cut the french beans into 1 inch pieces.
  7. Scrape, wash and chop the carrot into bite size pieces.
  8. Wash, de-seed, de-core and chop the green pepper.
  9. Wash and chop the tomato.
  10. Break each cashew into two.
  11. Heat the oil in a large pot.
  12. When it is hot, lower the heat and add mustard seeds.
  13. Once they start crackling, add the asafoetida.
  14. After about 10 seconds, add the curry leaves and stir for 30 seconds.
  15. Next, add the broken cashew and stir for a couple of minutes till the nuts turn a shade or two darker.
  16. Now, add the chopped green pepper, cover and cook for about 3 minutes.
  17. Uncover, add the chopped tomato, salt to taste, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
  18. Uncover and add the chopped cauliflower, french beans, carrots and peas.
  19. Add the rasam powder (if using), turmeric powder and salt to taste.
  20. Mix well, cover and cook for about 15 minutes till the vegetables are tender.
  21. Uncover and add the boiled lentil and grains.
  22. Add the bisi bele bhat powder and tamarind paste.
  23. Add about 2 cups of water.
  24. Mix everything thoroughly.
  25. Bring to boil, lower heat, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
  26. Uncover, check for salt, spices and tamarind. If you feel it needs any of these, add a bit more according to your taste.
  27. Serve hot with a dollop of ghee and a sprinkling of savoury boondi or potato chips/wafers/straws .


Saffron Infused Pearl Barley with Rocket, Pomegranate & Chickpea

Saffron Infused Pearl Barley with Rocket, Pomegranate & Chickpea

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Saffron Infused Pearl Barley with Rocket, Pomegranate & Chickpea








To borrow a phrase from my blogger friend Teagan of Teagan’s Books, at times a particular ingredient leads me to a recipe.

In Teagan’s case, she lets ingredients provided by her readers shape episodes of her Three Ingredient serial.

In my case, today’s recipe was guided by boiled chickpea leftover from Avocado and Chickpea Spread.

My kooky imagination thought of combining the chickpea with some pearl barley and to add a bit of colour and fragrance, decided to cook the barley with a pinch of saffron.

TSaffron Infused Pearl Barley with Rocket, Pomegranate & Chickpeao add to the mix, managed to get some peppery rocket (arugula) and fresh pomegranate and that’s how this recipe was born.

Apart from being low in calorie, rocket “has many vital phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can immensely benefit health.”

Pomegranate is full of antioxidants, vitamin C and potassium. It helps in fighting cell damage, controlling weight, reducing cholesterol lowering risk of cancer (specially prostate and breast) and lowering risk of heart disease.

a bowl of different colours and textures makes this one a healthy meal

Rocket may not be to everyone’s taste in which case you can use spinach, kale or watercress.

I didn’t add tomato but am including them in the ingredient list because I think it will improve the taste (and as a future reference for myself).


1/2 Cup uncooked pearl barley

A pinch of saffron

1 Chicken stock cube (you can substitute with vegetable if you prefer)

1 Cup boiled chickpea

A handful of rocket leaves

1/2 Cup fresh pomegranate seeds

1 Yellow pepper

8-10 Pearl onion

2 Ripe tomatoes

1-2 Tablespoons seeds of your choice (I used pumpkin and sunflower)

1 Tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

Salt to taste

1-2 Teaspoons olive oil


  1. To cook the barley, put about 3 to 4 cups of water and stock cube in a pot. Bring to boil and ad the barley and saffron. Lower heat, cover and let the barley cook for 45 minutes. You can do this ahead of time if you like.
  2. Dry roast the seeds till they turn a couple of shades darker. Set aside.
  3. Peel and wash the pearl onions.
  4. Wash, de-core, de-seed and chop the pepper.
  5. Wash and chop the tomato.
  6. Wash and dry the rocket leaves.
  7. Heat the oil in pan.
  8. Lower the heat and add the pearl onion and tomato with salt to taste. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  9. Add the pepper, mix, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  10. Next, add the cooked pearl barley, chickpea and rocket.
  11. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  12. Take the pan off the heat, add the roasted seeds and pomegranate along with balsamic vinegar.
  13. Toss well and serve.

Pearl Barley Stirfry, The Oriental Way

Pear Barley Stirfry, The Oriental Way

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Pear Barley Stirfry, The Oriental Way








There are different varieties of barley liked hulled, pot, pressed and sprouting but pearl barley is the one which is most commonly used in cooking.

Pearl barley has the husk and bran layers removed; you end up with the ‘pearl’ inside which is faster to cook and chewy in texture. In terms of nutrition value, it is the least nutritious type of barley but it is still fairly nutritious.

Cooked Pearl BarleyOnce boiled, it looks very much like some round, plump variety of rice (photo to the right). It is slightly chewy and pretty much bland.

However, in terms of nutrition content, I like to think that it performs better than brown rice because it has slightly less number of calories but – and this is where it really wins – it has four times more fiber.

I fancied some Chinese style stirfry but wanted to avoid having it with rice or noodles so decided to substitute with pearl barley. The combination works quite well.

I couldn’t get hold of tofu so used eggs for protein and added spring onions and peanuts for texture.

a delicious and inviting stirfry

When making stirfry, you don’t want the vegetables soggy. This is what works for me. I wash and cut the vegetables and put them in a colander. I let them sit for a couple of hours till any excess water is drained. When you are ready to cook, the vegetables will be without any moisture.

You can serve the stirfry on a bed of cooked pearl barley or mix the barley at the end of the stirfry. I did the latter simply because when I am cooking for myself, I try to make one-pot meals as far as possible to save on washing up. So I cooked the barley a few hours ahead of time and when the stirfry was done, I tossed it in (a bit like stir fried rice I guess?).

In the past, I have used pearl barley in a soup. But now that I have discovered the world of cooked pearl barley as a substitute for rice, look out for more kooky recipes featuring this ingredient :-).


1/2 Cup uncooked pearl barley

2 Eggs

1/2 Cup babycorn

1/2 Cup mushrooms

1/2 Cup broccoli

1 Bunch spring onion

1 Head of garlic

A piece of ginger, the size of your thumb

5-10 Basil leaves

1/2 Cup Fresh coriander

1 Star anise

2-3 Dry birds eye chilli

1-2 Tablespoons raw peanuts

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

A pinch of pepper

Salt to taste


  1. Cook pearl barley according to instructions on the packet. Drain and set aside till you are ready to make the stirfry. You can drink the drained water, it is very healthy.
  2. Dry roast the peanuts, remove the skin and split them in half. You can use a knife or do this in pestle and mortar. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the eggs, add a pinch pf pepper and some salt and make an omelet. Once it is cooled, roll it and cut it in slices. You will end up with strips of omelet. Set aside.
  4. Wash the coriander, retaining the stem if tender. Set aside.
  5. Wash the basil leaves and set aside.
  6. Now work on the vegetables.
  7. Peel and crush the garlic.
  8. Peel, wash and grate the ginger.
  9. Wash and slice the spring onion.
  10. Wash and chop the broccoli, mushroom and babycorn.
  11. When you are ready to cook the stirfry, heat the oil in a wok.
  12. Add the star anise and birds eye chilli.
  13. Stir for half a minute and add the garlic, ginger and half of the sliced spring onion.
  14. Stir for a minute.
  15. Add the broccoli, mushroom and baby corn along with some salt to taste.
  16. Stirfry on high heat for a few minutes till the vegetables are tender yet have a bite to them.
  17. Add the cooked pearl barley and basil leaves. Stirfry for a couple of minutes till heated through.
  18. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with strips of omelet, toasted peanuts and coriander.
  19. Enjoy hot.

goes very well with some soya sauce and chilli oil

Fat Free Pearl Barley Soup

Pearl Barley Soup









Run up to the festive season, my adventure with soup has begun! For last night’s dinner, I wanted to create a soup using one of the many grains I have in my kitchen cupboard.

enter the delightful pearl barley

English: Pearl barley (Hordeum vulgare) Deutsc...
English: Pearl barley (Hordeum vulgare) Deutsch: Graupen Nederlands: Gort (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a very useful and interesting link to the different types of barley out there. In terms if nutrition value, pearl barley falls below hulled barley since it is stripped of the outer bran layer. Having said that, it is still more nutritious compared to white or brown rice.

I like the chewy texture of pearly barley. Add it to soup and you have a delightfully delicious, complete meal.

The soup I made was fat free but you can use a tablespoon of oil to fry the onions if you like.


3-4 Tablespoons pearl barley

150 Grams pumpkin

2 Tomatoes

One whole head of garlic

2 Onions

A generous pinch of allspice powder

Salt to taste


  1. First, we need to cook the pumpkin and the tomatoes.
  2. Wash and dice both, add a pinch of salt and a cup of water and boil them in a saucepan or a pressure cooker.
  3. While they are cooking, peel and chop the onions and garlic.
  4. Once the pumpkin and tomatoes are cooked, strain the liquid (stock) and keep aside.
  5. Make a puree of the cooked pumpkin and tomatoes.
  6. Heat a soup pot (or equivalent).
  7. Once it is hot, lower the flame and add the chopped onions and garlic along with salt to taste.
  8. Stir it around for a couple of minutes.
  9. Now, add the pearl barley, reserved stock, 2-3 cups of water and bring to boil.
  10. Lower the heat, cover and let this cook for about 20 minutes.
  11. After this, add the pureed pumpkin and tomatoes and the powdered allspice mix. Ad this stage, if you feel that it needs more water, add some.
  12. Stir well, cover and cook for further 20 minutes.
  13. Once the soup is cooked, let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.


  1. Pumpkin skin is edible and nutritious so I don’t peel it. But you can do so if you like.
  2. You can substitute pumpkin with courgette.
  3. Sweat the onions in oil first if you prefer.