It is hard to keep a south Indian away from rice for too long – And yet, study after study claims that white rice is simple sugars and the carb of all carbs! With a strong diabetic gene in my family, and being luck enough to learn , I am exercising extreme caution with rice – This is not to say it is out of our lives – Hardly! But it only makes its appearance once or twice at the most in a week. That’s been pretty good control for us – Heck who wouldn’t trade a good rasam shaadam or sambar shaadam with a scrumptious curry on the side for a plate of raw veggies? H’uh?
By the way, the usage of Curry is rather loose – All it means in certain homes, like the one I come from, is a sauteed veggie on the side to be had with rice and lentil soups for want of a better word.
I was going to call this dish Barley Baath until I googled the meaning of Baath, a Kannada word for rice – Ironic, given this is a substitute for that incredible white soft fluffy thing …. oh well..
I must tell you something about my barley experience. A good doctor who has been helping me overcome some joint pains suggested a change in dietary habits in which figured “puhl baali” – This is, I swear, how I’d made a notation – I thought that if I went to the store and showed it or asked for it, someone would recognize what it was – For the life of me I did not connect it to PEARL BARLEY – I kept going back to my list to check on other foods that were good for me and bang! Like a shot, it came to me – could it be pearl barley that he spake of in such affable terms? So, last night, I came home armed with 2 bags of it – caught a good sale – and following instructions on the bag, soaked a couple of cups in water overnight.
4-5 veggies of your choice: I picked onion, yellow squash, green bell pepper, red bell pepper and zucchini.
1 tsp of grated ginger – also amounts are as per desire (sample in picture below)
3 green chillies (optional for the faint hearted)
2 cups of barley soaked in water over night and pressure cooked for 10 minutes – if cooking in a covered pan, it will take longer; Microwave, my guess is about 8 minutes (not recommended)
2 teaspoons of olive oil or sesame oil
Salt to taste
Including chopping of veggies, but excluding the time it takes to cook the barley, this dish should not take more than 10-15 minutes.
In a large pan, heat the oil and add some rosemary to it. Quickly add all the veggies and stir them around the pan in high heat. They will soften in a couple of minutes. Then add the barley on top and gently stir it into the veggie medley. Turn the mixture a few times until the barley is mixed in well with the veggies. Turn off stove.
Garnish: There are several garnishes that can be used for this – But cilantro is always a good choice, which is what I used today. Optional garnishes I’ve suggested are raisins, pine nuts and fresh squeezed lime for a tangy zest. You can substitute pine nuts with peanuts, cashews or roasted almond slivers or walnuts even.
This dish can be served hot or cold per personal choice.
Secret tip: If you have a finicky child who is not into trying anything new, just grate a cheese of his/her choice and melt it over the dish. Although my older children have blind faith in my cooking skills – nothing mom makes can be bad – (praying that lasts forever) they are both cheese heads, born in Madison WI – Hence anything topped with cheese tastes better!
Hope the pictures below are appetizing enough to set the gastric juices flowing