South Indian Coconut Barley and Millet Soup

South Indian Coconut Barley and Millet Soup

I really enjoy using lots of the ancient grains that we have forgotten about in the West. Two such grains are barley and millet which make a feature in this South Indian soup. While I don’t really know if these grains are used much in India now or in the past, the flavours in the soup are very South Indian. Delicious served by itself for breakfast or as part of a dinner served with rice and a vegetable.

Ingredients (serves about 2-4)

2 tbsp each of millet, barley, red lentil
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
4 cups water
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 dates finely chopped
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger finely chopped
1 clove garlic fine chopped
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 small tomato finely chopped
2 whole dried red chilis
2 tsp fresh chili finely chopped
A dash of hing (asafetida)
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oats
1/3 can coconut cream
1.5 tbsp tamarind puree or lemon juice (to taste)


1 tbsp sunflower oil
1.5 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp curry leaves fresh or dried


Dry roast the barley, millet and lentils along with the cumin and fenugreek seeds until they are fragrant. Use a saucepan big enough to fit the finished soup. Add the water along with everything except the oats, coconut cream, and tamarind. Cook for about 30-40 minutes until the barley begins to soften. Add more water if it is getting too dry.

Add the oats and coconut cream and cook till oats and barley are soft adding water to bring to the desired consistency. Turn the heat off.

Begin the tempering. Heat the sunflower oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle add the cumin seeds and cook for a minute or so. Add the curry leaves and cook briefly.

Add the tempering spices to the soup. Add tamarind or lemon juice. Taste and balance the flavours as desired with more salt, sugar or tamarind. Garnish with cilantro or spring onions.

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2 Responses to South Indian Coconut Barley and Millet Soup

  1. Pragya says:

    This recipe sounds tasty and unusual, and I’m planning on making it for company in 2 days. Question about the oats – are they steel cut or rolled/old fashioned oats? I assume they’re not the quick cooking sort.

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