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Barley Upma and Tomatillo Gotsu

August 5, 2008


About a month ago, G and I ate at this small restaurant in Half Moon Bay called Chez Shea. Chez Shea has a very eclectic menu with flavors from all over the world made with wonderful local ingredients. One of the dishes served there (which G had) is falafel served on a bed of barley risotto ( you won’t find it on the menu on the website). Of course, we had to try making the barley risotto at home (which we did- and since it was G’s creation, he’ll be posting it sometime). Anyway, we cooked so much barley that we had left overs after making the risotto which I froze for use later. A week later, I was mulling over what to make for dinner when I thought of making upma out of the frozen cooked barley. And to go with it gotsu made with tomatillo and cherry tomatoes. Now, traditionally, gotsu is made with tamarind. I used tomatillos to get the same tangy, sour taste that tamarind lends.

Barley has a whole lot of health benefits to boot, way more than rava (semolina flour which is usually used to make upma). Did you know that barley helps with regularity and lowering cholesterol? And that it is good for lowering sugar levels and therefore, is good for diabetics? When I can, I try to use good whole grains in traditional south indian recipes that use white rice or other such high simple carbohydrates.

What You Need

For the Barley Upma

  • 2 Cups of cooked barley
  • 2 Small zucchinis
  • 1 Small red bell pepper
  • 2 Carrots
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 Tsp each of Mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal
For the Gotsu
  • 2 tomatillos
  • 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1/2 Tsp of turmeric
  • 1/2 Tsp of asafoetida
  • 1/2 Tsp each of mustard seeds, methi seeds
  • 1/2 Tsp of coriander powder
  • 1/2 Tsp of cumin powder
  • a few curry leaves
  • 1 Tsp cooking oil
  • Water as needed
  • Salt as needed

How Its Done

  1. Dice the zucchinis, bell pepper and carrots. Slice the half onion.
  2. Heat the cooking oil in a non-stick frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and wait for it to splutter. Then add the urad dal and chana dal and stir till they turn a light brown
  3. Then, add the chopped vegetables and saute till tender (about 3-5 minutes).
  4. Add the cooked barley, salt and pepper and a little water to help cook the vegetables and meld the flavors. Put the lid on so that the flavors assimilate and the vegetables cook (and still be crunchy)- about 5 minutes.
  5. For the gotsu, heat a saucepan and add the cooking oil. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let splutter. Then add the methi seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves.
  6. Add sliced onions and saute till the onion changes color and is almost brown. Add the turmeric, coriander powder and green chilli (if you like it spicier, add a little bit of red chilli powder or cayenne)
  7. In the meanwhile, cut the tomatillos into cubes and put in a microwave-safe bowl with a little salt. Microwave for about 3 minutes till the juices start flowing. Do the same with the chopped cherry tomatoes
  8. Add this cooked tomatillo and the chopped cherry tomatoes to the onions, stir and add water. Add salt to taste and let it come to a boil. About 5-7 minutes. Then let it simmer so all tomatoes are cooked. Use your spoon and mush the tomatoes so the juices are well combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust.
This is a really satisfying meal- the grainy, chewy barley makes a hearty upma and the tangy and spicy gotsu is the perfect accompaniment- it will leave you licking your fingers or spoon…
  1. Loved the twist to the regular upma using barley and the gotsu using tomatillo,both look super delicious and so very healthy 🙂

  2. The gotsu sounds really yummy TT, I love anything that has a tangy edge to it. I bought barley cous cous this weekend and tried cooking it last night. It turned out into a total mush 😦 The instructions were so stupid, the cous cous-water ratio given was 2 1/4: 3 1/2 !!

  3. Very creative idea to use barley in upma, have heard of cracked wheat upma, besides the regular one etc. but this is a new one. And the gotsu wuth zucchnis must also be a nice combo, never tried that out. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Rekha permalink

    Hmmm…I may make squash gotsu as I have a ton of squash at home.

  5. Hi There is a book tag for you at my blog,please check it out:)

  6. I’ve never had barley before but your pic is actually tempting me to try out some. fantastic idea, and put together so creatively!

  7. but how did you cook the barley — that’s what I’d love to know.

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