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What do you think about barley? If you ever think about it, that is. I really only ever thought of barley as a part of the classic beef & barley soup or stew and I knew it was an ancient grain. I loved it in that soup, but barley is a grain I don’t always think about using often. But when I do, I remember how much I like it and that I should make it more often. It’s got a nutty, chewy and substantial taste and texture that is much more robust than rice.
Wow. That last sentence sure sounds rather obnoxious, doesn’t it? Robust? Substantial?
OK, let’s just call it good. And the addition of curry in this recipe? Really good.
Barley is also a healthy addition to your diet, with double the amount of fiber of brown and wild rice, per cup. Pearled barley, while not as healthy as whole grain hulled barley, actually beats or meets the nutritional makeup of wild, brown, and white rice. (source)
It’s best to use the hulled barley if you can find it (Amazon has a lot of choices), since it includes the extra nutrition from the bran (you’ll need to cook it a bit longer so I’ve included directions for both types in the recipe). You can find more about the nutrition of hulled barley here.
Slow Cooker Curried Barley
This recipe for slow cooked curried barley was a revelation when I first made it years ago. I served it to guests (food rule #1 broken right there) after church because it would be ready when we got home. It was a simple meal of this, grilled chicken, and salad eaten on our patio – and the barley was the star of the meal. Yep, humble barley. Everyone at the table, me most of all, was completely surprised at how good the curried barley was.
As you can imagine, this has become a slow-cooker go-to recipe. It’s a great side dish for baked chicken in the winter and equally good with grilled meats or seafood and vegetables in the summer. Oh, and to make this even more amazing, serve it with a bit of yogurt and a good chutney like Addictive Tomato Chutney or Spicy Rhubarb Chutney. Yum.
And easy? How about simply dumping all the ingredients in the cooker and forgetting about it? Well, until you start smelling the wonderful aroma of curry, that is!
You can vary the amount of curry based on your preferences. For just a light curry flavor, use 2 teaspoons of a mild Indian curry powder. We like things spicy, so I use 3 teaspoons of Indian curry labeled “hot curry.” And if we only have mild curry, I’ll add a bit of cayenne powder for that extra kick. If you’re unsure, start with the smaller amount and add more to taste when you make it again.
Because I’m pretty sure this will become one of your go-to recipes, too.