If you’re in the market for something weird yet tasty then give this recipe a go… I guarantee* you’ve never eaten anything like this before. A word of warning though, pearl barley has a bent for clogging up dishwashers so best go manual on this one.
* UK and Ireland only. Terms and conditions apply.
Preparation time: 45 minutes plus OVERNIGHT SOAKING
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Skill level: easy
Serves: 2 – 4 depending on level of greed
For the soup
- vegetable stock – 1.5 litres
- pearl barley – 100g
- finely grated rind of 1 lemon
- saffron – pinch
- Greek yoghurt – 500g
- cornflour – 2 tsp
- 1 free range egg – lightly beaten
For the kofta
- dried chickpeas – 125g
- bicarb of soda – ½ tsp
- 1 onion – finely chopped
- ground turmeric – 2 tsp
- smoked paprika – 2 tsp
- ground cumin – 2 tsp
- coriander and/or flat-leaf parsley – finely chopped – big handful
- fresh mint – finely chopped – small handful
- tomato purée – squirt
- olive oil
- s & p
Start by soaking the chickpeas overnight in 2 litres of cold water with added bicarb of soda.
The next day boil them up for about 20 minutes until tender, drain and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
When cool, put the chickpeas in a food processor with the onion and process to a fairly fine paste.
Scoop out into a large mixing bowl, add the herbs, spices and tomato purée and stir to combine. Season to taste.
Lube your hands up with some olive oil and then roll the kofta mix into walnut-sized balls.
Place on a baking tray lined with lightly oiled baking paper and place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until pleasantly golden brown (turn occasionally to avoid hot spots).
Meanwhile make the soup…
Bring the stock to a boil over medium heat, add barley, lemon rind and saffron and simmer until barley is tender (20-25 minutes).
As this is happening, pour the yoghurt into a large bowl along with the beaten egg and mix until smooth.
Mix the cornflour with 50ml of cold water to form a smooth paste and then add to the yoghurt.
Add 100ml of the barley stock to the yoghurt mixture and whisk to combine.
Now add the yoghurt mixture to the barley stock, place on a low heat for 4-5 minutes and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring continuously … take care NOT to boil.
Season to taste.
To serve, place some koftas in the bottom of warmed soup bowls and pour over the soup. Drizzle with olive oil if the mood takes you.
Prepare yourself for strangeness …
Verdict: Wow, this is the weirdest soup I’ve ever had … a sort of savoury lassi with the consistancy of tapioca … unsual but pretty darn tasty, and perfectly accompanied by the spicy (and fairly hot) koftas. If you are put off by the tapiocosity of this dish, try substituting the pearl barley with rice. Weird.
Drink: A crafty monday night bottle of Rosé.
Entertainment: Still working our way through the fifth season of ‘Homocide: Life on the Streets’.