In Indian kitchens, pearl barley is still the most underappreciated ingredient. It should be the summer's star grain, but because barley does not produce processed products like wheat (white flour), it is rarely farmed commercially. Even though peninsular India relies more on millets, it is fortunately farmed in smaller scales across diverse climatic zones in the country from Leh to Rajasthan. Thankfully, we have good grade barley (jau) accessible for us to use for the same reason. Pearl barley is just hulled barley known in northern India as jau ki gulli, pronounced slightly differently in different places as gulli, guli, or gulrhi, but you may tell your local neighborhood grocer what you want. If your local chakkiwala does not already have it in stock, he will gladly order it for you. 

It's a cooling grain that needs a lot of water when cooking. The roti made with chana atta (known as jauchan ka atta) is highly delectable, but the khichdi, Jau ki Ghat or Raab, Jau ka sattu can be mixed with water and seasoning for a rapid lunch. Jau ka daliya, and other summer-friendly dishes include khichdi, Jau ki Ghat or Raab, Jau ki Ghat or Raab.  

Barley has a high fibre content that is good for gut health and bulks up the stool, making constipation easier to manage. Although it contains gluten, most gluten-intolerant people (not celiacs) are able to consume barley without difficulty. Millets are not suitable for people with a weaker digestive system, but barley is. You just need to soak pearl barley if you're using it.

Image credit: Pexels 

It's time to make Pearl Barley and Tomato Risotto 

Ingredients:  

100g sundried tomatoes, finely chopped 

1 tbsp olive oil 

1 onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

15g fresh coriander, stems finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped

350g pearl barley, soaked

400g chopped tomatoes

600 ml vegetable stalk, salted  

100g Salad cheese, crumbled 

Method: In a large, covered saucepan, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring periodically, for 5-7 minutes, or until the onion, garlic, and coriander stems are tender and translucent. Combine the pearl barley, sundried tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, and stock in a large mixing bowl. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low heat setting and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes, or until the barley is just cooked and the liquid has been absorbed. Season with pepper and mix in the barley until it has released its starch and the risotto is creamy. To serve, mix in the cheese and coriander leaves.

This quick vegetarian dinner is packed with exotic flavor thanks to tart sundried tomatoes, garlic, and parsley, and it's also healthful.