“Pearls, glorious pearls
Infused with spices strong,
A creamy mixture stirs
With flavors that don’t go wrong.
Risotto has a re-birth
In an Indian-inspired home,
On a bed of Korma broth
Far far away from home..“
½ cup barley, washed & drained
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp fresh ginger, crushed
2 green chilies, slit in half
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup mixed peppers (I used red & green), chopped in cubes
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup spinach leaves, washed & roughly torn
Fistful of fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
1 green cardamom
2 cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin powder
¼ tsp paprika
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ cup cashew nuts, soaked in water
½ cup grated cheddar (optional – skip for vegan)
Pomegranate seeds to garnish
Boil 1 cup of water with a little salt. Add the barley and cook till most of the water has been absorbed and the grains are tender (al dente). Cover & keep aside.
Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add the cumin seeds, green cardamom, cloves, chili, garlic & ginger and cook till the seeds start to splutter. Add the onions and cook till they turn translucent and begin to brown. Stir in all the remaining dry spices, along with the tomatoes. Cover and cook till the tomatoes are tender and the oil begins to separate. Mix in all the remaining vegetables, with 1.5 cups of water, and let the mixture boil on medium-low flame for 20-30 minutes till all the vegetables are tender. Now add the cashews and cilantro, and cook for another few minutes. Turn off the heat, and blend everything to a smooth curry in a blender.
Mix the barley & korma curry and let it simmer on low heat till the barley swells up and is tender – approximately 15 minutes. Add a little water if needed. Finally stir in the cheese, and cook till its melted and the risotto is thick & creamy. Simply skip this step if you want to keep it vegan – it’s stilly pretty creamy & delicious!
Remove from heat, spoon into bowls & garnish with pomegranate needs. Serve hot.