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Recipe | Pumpkin and Carrot Barley Risotto – You never know how much you can achieve until you try

11 July 2015 One Comment

healthy pumpkin carrot barley risotto

People will walk in and walk out of your life, but the one whose footstep made a long lasting impression is the one you should never allow to walk out.” ~ Michael Bassey

Moving through my own life, I have crossed path with many such persons who have left a lasting impression on me. Some of them are talented writers, passionate bloggers and excellent cooks who constantly inspire & motivate me at every step.

One such person for me has been Pratibha, a wonderful writer and a remarkable friend whose warmth, simplicity and achievements I appreciate.

The trust and faith she has on me and my work has proved me wrong, time and again. Last time it was a project I did for her which required shooting close to 60 dishes in 5 days time. She made me realize the saying that “You never know how much you can achieve until you try”. 

This time again she called me and explained about a project for a magazine which require me to don the hat of a cook, stylist and a photographer every month.

Over the years, I have become quite comfortable executing any food styling project, but the idea of taking up ‘commercial photography’ for a magazine sounded intimidating to me.

I have a make-shift set up in my balcony and no studio lights to work with and have just the basic kit lens with which I shoot for my blog…am not sure if the resolution of my pictures would qualify for a magazine”  I answered to her on a phone call the other day.

I love your pictures, am sure they will also like your photographs and you are taking up this project. The concern person from the magazine ‘S’ will call you to finalize other formalities today.” she replied back with a flattering sense of authority.

Recipe | Pumpkin and Carrot Barley Risotto

It feels so surreal, to hold the July edition of the magazine, with published  images of the food I cooked, styled and clicked at home which says ‘Photographs by Sanjeeta kk!

These small achievements do make a world of difference….it gives hope to keep taking new path and new adventures and keep going…..

Pumpkin-Carrot Barley Risotto

Recipe | Pumpkin and Carrot Barley Risotto

And now for the recipe I wanted to post for long…Pearl Barley Risotto with vegetables.

Barley or Jau as is called in Hindi is a popular grain in many houses in my native, Rajasthan. Jau ka khichda (barley porridge), jau ki kheer (barley dessert), jau ki roti (barley flatbread), jau and sattu drink (barley-chickpea flour health drink) are a few recipes quite popular there.

Most of the local recipes are cooked using whole grain, especially the jau rotis and drink uses ground barley with the husk on it for better nutrition and more fibers in the recipe.

But the whole barley is pretty hard and takes ages to cook, the reason pearl barley is used to prepare dishes which require it in whole grain form such as khichdi, kheer and soups.

Pearl Barley is hulled starchy grain, its chewy texture and ability to release starch when cooked makes it a perfect choice for risotto.

High in fiber, this wonderful nutty grain has earthy taste, imparts creaminess to the dishes and has a tendency to absorb all the flavors from the spices it is cooked with.

Barley risotto makes a perfect one-pot meal for a cold night, but for us, it is a great anytime comfort food wherein I can include loads of vegetables and still indulge in a healthy yet scrumptious meal.

Mom prepares Khichda during winters with a mix of various grain and lentils cooked till creamy and mushy and serves it with a little jaggery and loads of homemade butter.

Here is what I do at my home with barley to please (err…read ‘cheat’…well, there is pumpkin in it) my children and transform my humble khichda into a creamy Risotto topped with rated cheese 🙂

I liked the idea of adding pumpkin (from here) and carrot puree to cooked barley, and I promise you that you can never make out these vegetables in the final recipe.

Recipe | Pumpkin and Carrot Barley Risotto


(serve 3)

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 cup chopped Pumpkin
  • 1 large Carrots
  • 4-5 Garlic pearls
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Green chilly
  • 1/2 tsp. Black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • Salt as required
  • A pinch of Saffron
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • Basil leaves to garnish
  • Water about 4 cup Recipe | Pumpkin and Carrot Barley Risotto

Method; Rinse and soak pearl barley for 1-2 hours or overnight.

Add 4 cups of water in a vessel and bring it to a boil, add saffron into it and take it off the heat.

Peel pumpkin and carrot and dice in fine cubes. Peel and finely chop onion and garlic.

Heat 1/2 tbsp. oil in a pan and add diced pumpkin, carrots, onion, cover the lid and cook until soft.

Put cooked pumpkin and carrot into a food processor and make fine puree.

Recipe | Pumpkin and Carrot Barley Risotto

Heat 1/2 tbsp. oil in the same pan and add finely chopped garlic, sliced green chilly and sauté for a few seconds.

Add soaked barley into the pan and let it cook on medium heat. The barley pearls will turn glossy in a few minutes.

Recipe | Pumpkin and Carrot Barley Risotto

Add a ladle of warm saffron water into the pan and let it simmer. Keep adding more water and stirring till the barley become tender but still have a bite in the centre.

Add pumpkin and carrot puree, crushed black pepper, salt, lemon juice in the pan, combine well and cook it for 2 more minutes.

Do not overcook barley as it will release too much starch and make the risotto soggy and loose its texture.
Recipe | Pumpkin and Carrot Barley Risotto

Remove the pan from heat and serve the barley risotto with more cracked pepper,  low-fat cheese, toasted nuts and a drizzle of olive oil.


  1. Replace pumpkin and carrots with fresh tomatoes in the risotto recipe.
  2. Add vegetable stock to make the risotto more flavorful.
  3. Use fresh coriander to garnish if you don’t have basil leaves.
  4. Add a tablespoon of butter and grated cheese just before serving for better taste.
  5. Use spinach puree to give a different colour and dimension to the risotto recipe.
  6. I don’t puree the vegetables into fine paste and keep it course to give a lovely bite of vegetables in each spoon.


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One Comment »

  • lakshmi said:

    Wow!! never thought that barley could make such a wonderful mouthwatering dish . Thanks for posting the recipe. will surely give it a try.

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