Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Cumin spiced Barley with broccoli

I am happy to look at other grainy alternatives such as bulghur wheat, couscous, farro, oats and rye and expand my culinary repertoire, but not for barley. I don't make time for barley. I had horrible experience of it at school. Instead of a hearty bowl of soup it looked like a porridge of vomit (sorry I know thats too much information for a food blog), worse still I remember my spoon standing upright in the bowl, that is how thick it was. However, many years later I found myself at the University canteen, hungry with only a few pence on me. The affordable option was Barley soup. Due to my hunger pangs, I was willing to give barley another try and overcome my prejudices towards it, but as soon as I parted with my coins I instantly regretted wasting my pennies. Instead of being soft plump cushions of grains, it was like eating pellets.

So a few years on again, was I going to give barley another chance. Yes, but it just had to be cooked to my taste with flavours I like.
I was so concerned with my own taste buds, that I forgot to consider D's feelings towards barley. It was only upon serving hat I became a bit nervous on how D would receive this dish. I was waiting for him to say 'eek, barley should only be used for winter soups'. But I was pleasantly surprised as he got up and cleaned out the remaining barley grains in the pot.

Oh I nearly forgot, my verdict. I am not saying I am a convert of barley, but I actually enjoyed it cooked this way. The grain soft and chewy. It benefited from the additional spices too. In fact I am thinking of doing a bit more experimenting with the grain. I served the spiced barley with some grated carrot.
Cumin spiced Barley with shallots and broccoliServes 2 people
2 shallot, finely sliced
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
150g barley
1 generous teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon chilli or cayenne powder
Salt to taste
Broccoli for two
Gently fry two shallots in the olive oil, then add the barley with the cumin and cook until the shallots are tender. Then cover the barley with water and simmer for 20 minutes. Then place the broccoli on top of the barley, do not stir. Cover ad cook for another 10 minutes, or until the barley and broccoli is tender. A little bit of the juice left in the pan is okay.


  1. Mmmm! I love cumin and coriander - this sounds lovely!

  2. Do you use a rice cooker? A few weeks ago I was making some brown rice in my rice cooker and threw in a handful of barley in along with it... It turned out really good! It was the perfect amount of chewiness to add to my rice. I think cooking it in the rice cooker helps... it always gets cooked perfectly.

  3. Thank you affectioknit.
    I was rather pleased with the flavours and the way it turned out.

    Thanks Roxan,
    No, I don't have a rice-cooker. My husband won't let me invest in one :( he thinks the method we use for making plain boiled rice is fine, I am sure this opionion will extend now to the barley dishes.

  4. This sounds like a perfect autumnal dish to me - but then I love the texture of barley!

  5. I'm not a fan of barley in soup either (I like the idea of it, but in practice I seem to spend half an hour desolatly chewing & wishing I'd made something a bit more tender), but I like using it to make risotto, or combining with roast squash, tomatoes & cheese in a bake.
    This recipe looks delicious! Would it work cold as a salad d'you think?
    Much love, dear friend!

  6. Ooooh, I adore barley, so I now very much look forward to fixing your beautiful colorful dish!!

  7. I love barley! But then again, I do think it has to be prepared well. I love the way you used it here with broccoli!

  8. I'm on a very strict diet right now for food allergies--but this looks like something I could make (minus the shallot). Barley isn't my favorite thing in the world, but right now I'm not supposed to be eating wheat and several other grains, so I'm trying to find ways to cook the things I can eat. Are the grated carrots raw?

  9. Like D I love barley in winter soups. My few other encounters with it have been displeasure at its stodgy nature - I have seen some barley salads that look good but I don't think i have tried them

  10. It looks lovely so I am glad it has cured you of Barley Fear.

  11. This looks delicious! I must try cooking barley sometime :)

  12. Hello darling! Thanks for this timely recipe, I keep getting broccoli in my box and because it holds such strong flavors, am not sure what to do with it besides my usual dishes.

    I think you should buy a rice cooker too, they aren't that much money and with all the use I've given mine, it pays for itself. I bought a Japanese Tiger one for $80 six years ago and I love it, use it always and clean up is a breeze. Plus it frees up another burner on my stove. Let's see, $80 over six years, used once a week.....not even $.25 per use!

    Like Roxan, I recently have gotten into making a combo using barley, wild rice and quinoa! DIVINE!!! I added that to some other ingredients, including kale, ground turkey, red beans and southwest chile powder and had a lovely little casserole.

  13. This looks wonderful! I adore barley, and I adore cumin, and I adore broccoli... did you write this post for me, by any chance? ;)

  14. Thanks freerangegirl.

    Ah my dear friend littleblackfox.
    Sorry to read that you too have not enjoyed barley much. I like the idea of it as risotto, may just have to give that a soon.

    Yes, I think it would as a salad and was considerig doing that with the leftovers had there been any, but D said to me he'd prefer his warm!

    Thanks Astra Libris.
    Hope your feeling better and drinkign lots of lemony gingery drinks.

    Thank you Morgan. If I did not have a veg with it, i don't thiink I would have enjoyed it as much.

    Oh Kateri - I am so sorry to learn that you have some food allergies. You could sub the shallots with leeks if you wish - unless of course you are avoiding the allium family all together.

    Yes the grated carrots are raw with a little salt and pepper to taste. It was a good accompaniment.

    Johanna GGG.
    It has to be good barley soup though :D
    I'm lookign forward to trying some barley salad recipes, hopefully some of them will appeal.

    Thank you Kath.
    Fingers crossed the next barley dish is as good, as the fear of barley going wrong will still linger in my mind.

    Thanks sooz.
    Please do try it. I think it would be good for as a cold lunch too :)

    Thank you LaDivaCucina.
    YOu must make some broccoli soup. It converted me to eating more.

    I'd love to have a rice cooker, and apprciate the encouragement, but the husband won't permit me to have one. He thinks I make good rice. Also on my kitchen wish list is a food dehydrator. So it will have to wait. And that day will be when I smuggle it into the flate without him noticing :D

    Must try the combo of grains as suggested, sounds really good. Its on my list to make one of these days.

    Of course Mo. I made this dish especially for you, but as you did not turn up at my door. I had to feed it to my husband.
    Warm wishes :)

  15. Heh, I love the flavour of barley, and when I'm cooking with pot or pearl barley I really enjoy the results. My barley love is however thwarted by those packs of soup mix (usually called 'country soup mix') that my Mum (who I love to bits, and hopefully isn't reading this!) makes; a mish-mash of grains & pulses with wildly different cooking times, so you can either have well-cooked red lentils with pearl barley like bullets or well-cooked pearl barley in an overcooked mush (or in my Mum's case the middle ground - over cooked lentils & undercooked barley!)

    I forgot to ask - how is the experimenting with the gluten powder? Let me know if you need any more (MikeyFox decided to buy a 25kg sack of the stuff!)
    Much love!

  16. LittleBlackFox,
    Sounds like you've been eating barley an eternity and in so many interesting ways (cough) that I just can't help smiling :D. Give myou mother 10/10 for trying though.

    I have not had the opportunity to use the gluten powder yet. Will think over the weekend what to do with it. Thanks for reminding me. And of course, I know where to come should I want more. Thank you.

    PS Hopefully your mum hasn't read your comment. Even if she had, I know she would love you the same :D

  17. i love barley, i eat it too seldom. but then i've not experienced any school meal horrors with it;) i suppose it was not even available when i was in school actually, it feels quite modern (for a swede at least). this dish looks lovely!

  18. Thank you Pia.

    I need to try more recipes, I am sure I will find one I like.


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