Talbina is a soothing and nutritious porridge which is prepared by slow cooking barley grains / barley flour with milk for a long time, then sweetening it with dates or honey. It is made with natural ingredients and has numerous health benefits.
Ever since I incorporated it regularly in my diet I have been feeling so good overall, lost so much weight and feeling more active and energetic. I am eating this wholesome porridge like a cereal for breakfast with dates or honey or as a soothing drink before going to bed and it helps me sleep better as well. All my aches and pains are now like a thing of the past and it is so true. Isn’t that something we all struggle so much for? I was curious to know more about barley and as I tried to plunge deeper and deeper into its amazing properties I liked it even more.
The use of Talbina dates back to the prophetic era 1400 years ago. It so happened that I recently stumbled upon this website which discusses about the foods liked by our Prophet Mohammad (May peace be on him) and one of them is Talbina which he recommended for many forms of ailments of the mind and body and when a loved one passed away. He said “The talbina soothes the heart of the patient and relieves him from some of his sadness“. [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (5058)]. Barley was one of the favourite foods of our prophet and there is a mention of its use and benefits in those days in 250 hadiths which shows that it was used as an important nutrition in islamic history. Hadiths show barley taking place in trade life, economic life, health and social life of muslims.
I did a bit of my own research on its various health benefits, nutritional value, its history, origin etc and found a wealth of interesting information. It is an excellent source for high fibre and is loaded with vitamins, minerals such as selenium, B vitamins, copper, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium, niacin and antioxidants to boost immunity………read more.
After learning so much about this wonderful grain and its health benefits I feel interested in trying out different recipes using barley as the main ingredient. I also feel so curious to know how it was cooked in the ancient times in different countries around the world and how it is used in various cuisines of every culture. So I intend cooking barley in combination with meats, vegetables and fruits using various spices using different cooking techniques and keep posting their recipes.
I love the nutty flavour of barley and this porridge Talbina is so tasty. It is similar to “kheer” which is also a porridge but made with rice. The cooked grains of barley have a chewy, gummy candy like texture more or less like tapioca pearls. You could make your own variations of Talbina. Either blend the cooked barley coarsely and add more whole / skimmed milk to make a drink or eat the cooked barley as a hot cereal for breakfast. Add chopped almonds, raisins, bananas or berries as toppings or flavour it with cardamom/cinnamon powder etc. But for sweetening it, use only natural ingredients such as honey or dates and no added sugar.
I tried two kinds of barley for this recipe – the pot barley and the pearl barley. The difference between them is in their processing – the pearl barley being a little more polished and refined than the pot barley which means that its nutrient value is a little less than the other one. After trying both of them for making Talbina, I realized that the pearl barley tasted better for making this sweet porridge. So I decided to use the pot barley for broths and soups and use the pearl barley for Talbina.
You could also use barley flour to make Talbina. Add one tbs of barley flour to one cup of warm whole milk, sweeten with honey or dates and enjoy.
Here’s the recipe:
1 cup Pearl Barley
1.5 litres Whole Milk + 2 cups more
Honey as per requirement
Dates soaked over night and pits removed (optional)
Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios (optional)
Fresh fruits, berries (optional)
1. Wash the pearl barley in running water till the water runs clear.
2. Switch the Instant Pot on to sauté normal.
3. Add the barley and the milk to the Instant Pot just to heat it up a bit then switch it off within 5 minutes. Now press the slow cook button, close the lid, turn the valve to venting position, set the time for 2.30 hours and forget it.
4. When the Instant Pot beeps, open the lid and stir gently from the bottom. You would see that the grains are puffed up and are sticky and chewy. There would still be some milk on top.
5. Add the remaining 2 cups milk, simmer a bit on sauté less. You could also blend the barley grains a bit to get a porridge consistency or leave them whole. I like to keep them whole for my cereal but blend them up for a drink.
7. Add honey to sweeten as needed. You could either add dates or honey or both. It depends on your taste.
8. You could also make different variations of it. Add some chopped almonds, walnuts, berries, apricots, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds etc and eat it as a cereal. Or you could add some kewra or rose essence or orange blossom water to flavour it, sprinkle some almonds on top and enjoy it as a drink or kheer.
1. A 1/4 cup of raw barley makes 1 cup of cooked barley . You could prepare large quantity as per your requirement in advance and store it in the fridge for a week.
2. I soak the dates over night, mash them with a blender and add them to the Talbina just before eating it. I believe the dates could ferment the Talbina so I always add them later – either mashed or just small pieces of ripe dates.
3. Talbina has to be slow cooked to retain all its nutrients. That is how it was done in those times, so I don’t like to change the cooking technique. Cooking on high heat, steaming or pressure cooking the barley makes the barley stick to the bottom and it leaves a dark brown hardened burnt layer which is hard to scrub and clean. So it is best when slow cooked.
4. Adding whole milk makes it really tasty and delicious.