Barley and Bean Stew is a great addition to your vegan diet in Winter. In Ayurveda, this is an example of how to make a dish more Tridoshic, by including all the 6 tastes.



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.

Barley in Chinese Medicine

Barley like Rice, is a very easily digested grain. In Chinese Herbal Medicine, barley, especially Job’s Tears barley (Yi Yi Ren In Chinese, Hato Mugi in Japanese) is in the category of Kitchen Medicine. Kitchen Medicine’s are foods that are found in Chinese herb prescriptions,  as well as in the kitchen.

The Chinese Herbal Pharmacopia, the Ben Cao, says that Barley “drains dampness.” To drain dampness in Chinese Herbal Medicine is to improve digestion and promote urination.

Barley is also said to improve Lung function and clear pathological heat toxins. This refers to its use in both Lung infections, and abscess as well as hot type skin disorders like Acne and Eczema. Indeed Job’s tears is in many herbal formulas for skin diseases and bronchitis.

The ability to drain dampness and eliminate digestive toxins (Ama in Ayurveda) makes barley an excellent grain in winter, when we consume more heavy food like meat that creates dampness and heat. Barley is also mildly cooling, so it balances the internal heat created by rich food.

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 should be modified.

How to Modify for Kapha Dosha

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.

How to Modify for Pitta Dosha

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.

How to Modify for Vata Dosa

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.

Why Is This Dish Tridoshic?

Tridoshic means suitable for any or all of the three doshas. In moderation, a tridoshic dish or food will not aggravate, unbalance, or elevate any one dosha. A tridoshic dish balances the flavors and innate temperatures of foods in once dish.

How can this dish be both cooling, warming, damp draining, 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 sauteeing 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. Hence, Tridoshic 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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