I love making dinners based on a theme, love bringing all the elements of the meal together. Sometimes the common thread can be a cuisine, an ingredient, season or sometimes it can be a cooking technique. Tonight’s meal was Smoking hot.

I love the smoky flavor in dishes, be it a spice like a smoked paprika, smoky pepper like chipotle, smoked gouda, hickory smoked meats or smoking a cooked dish using a traditional ‘Dhuri’ technique from India. I just learnt that the Dhuni technique is used very extensively in a Dham cooking. I make this condiment with Walnut Chutney, a recipe from the northern indian Kashmiri cuisine, where I use a hot coal & ghee to create the smoke to flavor the dish.

Going back to my dinner theme tonight, so if you have not already guessed, the theme was ‘smoking’. I made this Barley Risotto with a mexican twist, Shrimps in tomato based sauce & Corn salad. Each dish had a ‘smoky’ element to it. Today I am sharing the recipe for the risotto. The smoky flavors come from the roasted poblanos and smoked paprika.

As I mentioned, my family is trying to eat only whole grains and use as little processed food as possible. So I try to make different grains every day, rotating between brown rice,quinoa, bulgur, wild rice, farro, whole wheat & barley. Today it was barley’s turn. So I decided to make this dish, I think it tasted like the risotto, and since I incorporated the mexican flavors, I called it Mexican risotto. Barley is a very commonly eaten in many parts of the world. It is known for many good things including calming your stomach down. My grandmom used to give us barley water when we went a little crazy eating garbanzo beans. 🙂


1 cup of Barley

1/2 white onion finely chopped

1 garlic chopped

2 Poblano peppers

1 tbsp Cilantro chopped

1/2 cup cream

1/4 cup white wine ( optional)

1/2 tbsp Smoked Paprika

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1 tbsp oil


Pressure cook barley with a little bit of salt & 2 1/2 cups of water. I like to cook it in a little more water so it cooks and has extra starchy liquid, this makes the dish creamy with little amount of cream. 
Roast the poblanos until charred. Keep them covered in a bowl and when cooled peel and chop.

Heat oil, saute onions & garlic. When lightly browned, add the chopped poblano and paprika. Now add the wine if using and cook for 2-3 mins.

Add the barley along with the cooking liquid and mix through. Adjust the salt.

Add the cream and heat it through.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Sometimes I add chorizo to make it a one pot meal. I saute the chorizo, when cooked remove it on a plate. In the rendered fat, saute the onions etc and follow the rest of the steps.