No Cheese Barley Risotto

I was under the impression that Barley is an unknown term to most people, until I remembered it’s used as a the base for many alcoholic drinks. Apparently 98% of the barley produced in this world is primarily used to make beer and certain distilled beverages and that meagre 2% that remains is used as a health food product.

I remember the doctor suggesting drinking boiled Barley water to flush out toxins. I’ll be honest, this wasn’t at all easy for me. But trying it as a rice replacement was the next best thing! I have successfully tired Barley in soups and stews, but this Risotto recipe was a clear winner, since the plates got wiped clean. I used a pressure cooker to save time, but don’t fret if you don’t have a pressure cooker, a large casserole dish is also a great replacement. Don’t forget to pre-soak and wash your barley well, especially the organic variety needs a good rinse.

High fiber content, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, heart health and diabetes protection are just some Barley’s benefits that make it one of the better whole grain choices. Barley is actually one of the oldest consumed grains in the world. And the best part is, a whole cup of cooked barley has only 1 gram of fat (oh yes, you can do that happy dance)! Soaking and sprouting the uncooked barley, can also help to lower the level of antinutrients significantly, making it more beneficial and also easier to digest. It can also reduce the amount of gluten present within barley to some degree.

Barley nutrition can benefit blood sugar level management, making it a wonderful option for those with diabetes. How about trying this no-cheese risotto as a meatless monday option?


1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 box mushrooms (200 gms) sliced

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 tsp red chilli flakes

1½ cups Pearl barley

4 cups water (or vegetable broth- optional)

1/2 cup carrots, cut into roundels

1 tbsp onion powder (optional)

1 tsp dry Thyme/ oregano

Himalayan salt /Rock salt to taste

Wash the barley well and soak it for a minimum of two hours, then strain this and keep it aside.

In a large pressure cooker, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and red chilli flakes and stir for a minute. Now add the onion and sauté it until translucent. In goes the sliced mushrooms and cook until they begin to release their moisture and attain a nice colour. Add the carrots, barley, water, thyme, onion powder, salt; mix this well. If you have vegetable broth, then skip the onion powder and check your salt levels. Close the pressure cooker with the lid and put it on high flame. When the whistle blows, reduce the flame and cook this for another 15-20 minutes. Turn off the flame and let it cool down, check the risotto for the consistency, you can add some more hot broth or water if it’s too dry for you. Serve this hot garnished with a gentle sprinkle of chilli flakes.

Tip- It’s absolutely essential to soak and wash the barley well if it’s organic, this helps it to cook faster. Please omit the chilli if it’s too spicy for you and sub with black pepper. Incase you don’t have Mushrooms, try making this with green peas or fresh pumpkin cubes. To make it child friendly, omit the chilli and add assorted colourful veggies.

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