Monday, April 16, 2012

Barley congee or jau ki ghaat : a light cooling, healing drink for summers

Barley congee is a thinner version of the famous Rajasthani Jau ki ghaat. Jau ki ghaat is a raita like dish that is made the same way but is kept thicker so it makes a dip like consistency. Both the versions of this cooked barley flour drink or congee are extremely good for gut health. Barley is considered cooling for the system and toning up the GI tract, cleansing it at the same time.

We often eat for social reasons and indulge a bit more. Some refined carbs and refined oils inevitably find their way to our stomach when we eat out or when the food preparation is not under our control. On such occasions we eat bigger portions sometimes or just too many dishes for the comfort of the gut. So the next day should be a relaxing time for the digestive tract. Something light that soothes the inflammatory effects of badly prepared food or poorly chosen portions. Or simply bad combinations of food.Whatever that disturbs the harmony in our digestive system.

Some meals are simply inflammatory to the system. Very high sugar in one meal is one example when the meal turns inflammatory, especially when the sugars are prepared with refined flours and refined oils too. We can undo the damage to an extent.

Barley congee helps doing just that. Damage control. And much more. A detailed post is intended, stay tuned for that.

I am going to tell you how simple is this congee to make. I am almost forced to write this recipe as one of the my clients couldn't understand the cooking procedure and the congee turned out an unpalatable experience. I would never want someone to turn away from a yummy solution to such recurring problematic meals we have to have sometimes.

So the step wise recipe or better to say a how to procedure of the Barley congee is here. All done in a few steps in microwave.

Two tbsp of Barley flour is all that is required to make 2 huge mugs of this congee. Here is the flour in a microwave safe jug . A carafe can be used too.

Add half a cup of plain water to this flour and mix well so no lumps are there. Now add a cup of water again to make it thinner. 

This can be done in a thick bottom pan too and then cooked on stove top till the mixture boils and becomes transluscent. 
Just like this. 

This pictures is after a 2 minutes boil in the microwave. Cook it till the slurry becomes frothy and rises in the jug. It looks like this.
Cook again till it gets frothy and rises till the neck of the jug.. 

This time when you check it , the slurry becomes even more uniform and smooth. 

Emulsion like.
Now add plain cold water to this slurry to make 2 mugs full of this drink.
Add salt to taste and any seasoning you like. 

Chaat masala or roasted cumin powder (bhuna jeera) makes a tasty blend with salt n pepper. 

Use the seasoning according to the mood of the day I would say, you need different spices on different days. Isn't it?
In my case it was a chutney made using mint, spring onion, green chilly and salt. Two tsp of this chutny in my barley congee makes my tummy happy.

The same drink can be converted into a great pro and prebotic health drink by adding some natural yogurt to it and let it sit on the kitchen platform for about 12-14 hours. 

A slight lacto fermentation of the Barley congee makes it a lovely tasty gut healthy drink. Thinned down to your wanted consistency at the time of consumption. Almost like buttermilk.

Whenever there is constipation, I recommend fermenting this drink using natural whey. The whey that is the byproduct of making paneer cheese. It works well for making the gut movements ease out. Seasonings of this drink can be any one of the above mentioned.

Now you see how versatile is this Congee. Different seasonings and different liquid mediums to get desired results. This is a favorite detox recipe for me in the summer months. It can be given to children too.

Serve cold or chilled. I like to serve it thinned with buttermilk, finely chopped green chillies, mint and coriander greens.

To cook the barley congee in a pan you just have to mix 1 tbsp of barley flour with 500 ml water, whisk well and cook on medium heat till it froths. Cool, dilute with buttermilk or whey and serve as desired.

It can be a daily healthy summer drink as well. The same way we have our buttermilk or Lassi.

Let me know if you liked this drink. It will be a helpful recipe up your sleeves.

Edited to add : The drink can be made using pearl barley as well. The procedure is simple.

Soak the pearl barley for 3-4 hours or overnight.
Now make a paste adding some water to it.
This paste would directly be used as a paste of the flour and water in the second step of the microwave recipe.
Just dilute the paste with a cup of water and cook till frothy and the mixture rises up the vessel.
Dilute again with cold water, add seasoning and serve cold or chilled.

1/2 cup pearl barley soaked in a cup of water. The paste will be about a cup, 2 tbsp of the paste would make two large mugs of a thick buttermilk like consistency Congee.


  1. as kids every time we had fever, we used to have hot barley drink with little sugar for lunch. never liked it...but also dint know this has so many properties. recently started adding barley in soups and slowly developing a taste for this.must give it another thought.

    1. I remember having salted barley drink that was made using a 'Purity Barley'(a yellow colored tin pack) and I guess it was refined Barley starch. This drink is unrefined and the probiotic version is great.

  2. Hi sangita, I have pearl barley grains not barley flour with me. Can I make this by cooking the barley grains? Mum says this is very cooling, but I haven't had much success in cooking barley grains.

    1. Yes Gangubai :-) I love your pen name :-)
      Pearl barley can be used for making this drink as well. Wait I would add the procedure using pearl barley as well. Thanks for reminding me.

  3. Thanks, sangeeta (sorry for misspelling it, in the first comment)
    Will wait for the updated procedure!

  4. Oh...just saw that you have updated the post already! Thanks. Will try this for sure.

  5. ohh this is how it is supposed to be. Hmm.. I made it so thick and horrible. Thanks for sharing this on your blog

  6. Looks worth experimenting with sangeeta... I made barley salad for the first time it came out good so thinking of trying this next !

  7. I had one of those weekends with lots of over indulgence, and not good choices (ugh). I have heard about congee but was not familiar with it-thanks for sharing it with us.


  8. I don't think I've ever had anything like that before.....but good to know about how good it is...

  9. Hey ! thanks..I didnt realize u had updated the detail..Thanks..:)And the spring onion chutney with the barley congee is just delicious..!!
    Sunita Damodar

  10. WOW! This is wonderful! I just stumbled upon your site.. Thank you so much for sharing your culinary heart with all of us :)

    1. Thanks Laura. Glad you liked it :-)

  11. Baley flour=jau ka aata? Right?

  12. Dear Sangeeta,
    Lovely post.
    (might be a repost of my earlier comment, I'm not sure if my comments were added second time around, pls ignore if so.)
    I was narrated a hurried quick recipe for barley drink/conjee by a kind Punju aunty while paying for groceries.
    I also was told about this quinoa breakfast drink, peruvian, also at a grocery store , while purchasing groceries. you might know of it , as you experiment with such delicious flavors and ingredients and make them so easy for us to learn and repeat in our homes.

    best wishes,

    1. Thank you so much Kamal Ma. I had received your comment on the earlier post, been loving this interaction :-)
      I am planning to make this Peruvian breakfast drink as well. Thank you for the link.
      Keep in touch, we learn a lot from each other :-)