Barley, 3/4 Cup, Cooked till Soft
Pinto Beans, 1 Cup, Cooked
One Head Beet Greens, or 1 small bunch of Kale or Spinach
Turnip, 1 Small, Sliced
Red Onion, One Medium, Sliced
Raisins, 1 tbsp
2 tsp crushed Garlic
1 tbsp Coriander powder
1 tsp Cumin powder
1/2 tsp Indian Turmeric Powder
3/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Sea Salt
2 tbsp Sesame oil (not the black roasted type) to saute the onion and spice
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Raw Dark Sugar

How To Prepare:

Wash and soak the barley for at least an hour. The longer the better. Boil with the raisins until soft. Cook pinto beans or open a can. If using canned I prefer Eden brand, as they are well cooked, organic, and made with Kombu Sea Vegetable, which aids the digestion of beans and grains. Trader Joe’s organic pintos are nice and soft, too.

Saute the onion on a medium flame in sesame oil. For this dish I prefer a large cast iron pan. When the onion turns translucent, add the coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper, and lower the flame so as to not burn the spices. Stir for about 2-3 minutes and add the crushed garlic and turmeric. Stir for another 2-3 minutes and add the beet greens and cover for 5 minutes.

Add the beans, sugar, vinegar, and barley with 1/4 cup water if necessary. (This depends on how much water is in your green veggie; the goal is a thick stew like an Indian vegetable dish). Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Ayurvedic Analyis

Barley like Rice, is a very easily digested grain; in Chinese Medicine it is said to “drain dampness,” which makes it an excellent grain in winter when we may consume more heavy food that creates damp. It is also considered mildly cooling.

Pinto beans are a very easy to digest bean with a mild flavor that blends well with stronger tasting ingredients; hence its popularity with the hot spices of Mexican cuisine.

This dish is fairly tri-doshic; containing all 6 tastes, sweet, salt, sour, bitter, astringent, and pungent, it is nourishing, easy to digest, and suitable for all three doshas in balance. But if you suffer dosha aggravation this dish will need to be modified.

The combination of astringent beans with light, easy-to-digest, damp-draining barley and spices make this dish excellent for Kapha, but with a Kapha aggravation I would omit the raisins, sugar and vinegar.

The cooling barley and astringent beans combined with mild sweet spice like coriander and raw sugar are good for Pitta, but with Pitta imbalance, I would omit or reduce the black pepper, garlic, vinegar, and and substitute rutabaga, parsnip, or potato for the turnip.

The sweet sour salty warm moistening qualities of this dishes preparation method balance the light barley and beans, so a healthy Vata could enjoy this dish, if they are not bean sensitive. But if they are out of balance I would delete the beans and even make this dish with rice, bulgar, or buckwheat rather than barley.

How can this dish be both cooling, warming, moistening and light at the same time? The dish is fundamentally light; as its main ingredients barley and beans are. And barley is cooling, too. But the spices added, and the method of sauteing them in warming sesame oil with onion make the dish gently warming and moistening.

So this dish lives in the middle. Light, but not dry; moistening, but not damp producing; warming, but not hot; cooling, but not cold, containing all 6 tastes, and fundamentally easy to digest. Enjoy!

copyright eyton shalom, january 2009, san diego, ca. all rights reserved, use with permission.

Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego

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