Spicy Barley Pulav with Vegetables

When I was a kid my mother used to make barley water for my grand mother since it has many health benefits.  But I used to hate the smell when barley is being cooked.  With that I never tried any recipes with barley.  Since I started cooking healthy home made lunch meals for work, I have been looking for varieties since it has become boring to eat rice, pasta, and quinoa every single day.  Thought to give it  a try with barley and to my surprise, I really liked the taste of barley.  This recipe is almost a copy cat recipe of my recipes with bulgur and quinoa, but with a different grain.  Well I will have to come up with more variety of recipes with barley since it has become one of my favorite grains.

Note: Soy chunks can be replaced with tofu and for non-vegetarians, I believe it can be replaced with chicken


  • ¾ cup quick cooking barley
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup soy chunks
  • Hot water to soak soy chunks
  • 1 ½ cups mixed vegetables (carrot, green peas, string beans, cabbage, cauliflower etc.)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ inch piece ginger
  • Curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seed
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Urad dhal
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • Salt to taste


  • Add a dash of salt to 2 cups water and bring to a rolling boil. Add barley and once it starts boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 12 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Keep covered until use.

  • Soak soy chunks in hot water for about 20 minutes (soaking time will vary depending on the firmness of soy chunks and the consistency of soy chunks. To test if soy chunks had soaked enough, squeeze a soy chunk and it should be squeezable and should release water that was absorbed, but firm and not too soft like jelly)

  • Cut vegetables into small cubes/chunks (see picture) and steam for about 7 minutes
  • Dry roast coriander seed, cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, cloves, and urad dhal until spices emit fragrance and urad dhal is lightly browned. Let cool and grind in a coffee grinder to a powder.
  • Crush garlic and ginger.
  • Once soy chunks are soaked, add 2 tablespoons oil to a non-stick skillet and fry until soy chunks has browned and slightly crisp. Set aside.
  • To a large skillet add 2 teaspoons oil and add garlic and ginger and sauté until lightly browned. Add curry leaves and sauté for another minute.  Now add ground coriander mixture, chili powder and fry for a minute.
  • Add vegetables, soy chunks, and barley and mix and cook on low flame until the vegetables, barley and the spices are well mixed. If needed sprinkle a little bit of water to keep the moisture.
  • Serve immediately with your favorite pickle, pappad (pappadam in Tamil), fried curd chili, or even baked potato chips.

Yields: 2 main dishes


5 thoughts on “Spicy Barley Pulav with Vegetables

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