Beetroot and Beet Tops Pearl Barley Pilaf Recipe

1 hour 15 minutes


  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods, bashed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 50g of unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 bird's eye chilli, seeds left in, finely chopped (use two if you prefer a spicier finish)
  • 250g of pearl barley
  • 700ml of chicken stock, or vegetable stock
  • 4 raw beetroots, well-scrubbed and coarsely grated (no need to peel)
  • beetroot leaves, stalks finely chopped and leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of coriander, mint or dill (use a small bunch), roughly chopped. If using coriander, the stalks can also be finely chopped and used
  • 1 handful of flaked almonds, toasted
  • salt
  • pepper


Dry-fry the spices in a skillet or sauté pan until fragrant. Add half the butter and the onion, garlic and chillies for 5–10 minutes, or until soft, but not coloured
In the meantime, put the pearl barley in a sieve and give it a good rinse under running water. Add the barley to the pan, along with the stock and grated beetroot
Season generously, give it all a good stir, then bring it up to the boil
Once boiling, put the lid on, reduce the heat and leave to simmer gently for about 50–55 minutes. The pearl barley should be soft, but still retain a little bite. You may need to give it another stir halfway through cooking. Try to hold your nerve and not add any extra liquid, you don’t want to end up with soup
Stir through the beetroot stalks and leaves and add the remaining butter. Put the lid back on and leave to stand, off the heat, for another 5–10 minutes
Taste for seasoning, then lightly fork through the herbs. Scatter over the almonds (if using) before serving