In the diverse world of whole grains, barley occupies a prime spot. Aside from its stellar, nutrient dense profile, it’s been regarded as one of the best foods to eat for women with PCOS (me) and for women prone to UTIs (also me). I can attest to its remedial benefits from personal experience.
Apart from cooked barley, I’ve found barley water—the grains boiled and strained—to be really effective. Also, coconut water, buttermilk, copious amounts of water (you knew this one), and cranberry juice: made from fresh or frozen cranberries blended up with water; not the sugar-laden packs. I am no medical expert but I know that sugar only does more harm than good for UTIs. But I digress.
Although barley and millet are a healthier source of carbs than white rice, I can’t imagine eating it everyday as a replacement for rice. I love my white rice a little too much for that. I do however try to make substitutions wherever I can and wherever it works: barley or millet porridge for breakfast, quinoa or millet upma/khichdi, and millet bowls with meat and veggies. Sweet or savoury, choose your own adventure. They are versatile either way. I often also blend up cooked oatmeal or barley in my whey protein shakes for a great post-workout snack.
Ever since I brought back a whole load of dried shrimp from Sri Lanka a few months ago, I’ve been on the lookout for recipes to use them in. Talk about putting the cart before the horse, right? I know. A handful thrown into stir-fries or fried rice, made into a sambal with coconut (how it’s typically eaten in Sri Lanka) or blended up to a coarse powder and tossed with green beans for that very desirable crunch and flavour. If you like fish sauce, it’s very likely that you’ll like dried shrimp. It’s got a similar funk to it.
Cooked barley, raw mango, onions and coriander form the base of this salad. The dressing is a refreshing combination of flavours: yogurt, garlic and lots of fresh mint blended up with a hint of cumin and chilli. For a vegetarian version, a handful of fried shallots would work really well in place of dried shrimp.