Duncan’s Barley Dal Recipe

(You can also make Kicheree by substituting Rice for the Barley)


1. Rice Cooker

Start with a Rice Cooker with a Steamer Insert (I use a Lotus Foods-brand Rice Cooker, $80, solid stainless steel, purchased from the At Home Store in Fairfield, Iowa). There’s also a Stainless Steel Rice Cooker available at the MUM Bookstore, and at Everybody’s, for $70. The Miracle Exclusives Rice Cooker is available from Amazon.com for $60 plus shipping. All of these are very similar; stainless steel throughout, same warm/cook switch, same steamer tray.


2.a Recipe (based on 1 cup dry ingredients—modify all amounts based on amount of dry ingredients)


2.b. Quantity

Makes 48 oz (approx. 4-6 servings)


2.c. Ingredients and Preparation

·         1/2 cup hulled barley (organic preferred, from Whole Foods, $2/lb. You are not recommended to use “Pearled” Barley, which has the nutritious and fiber-filled barley hull removed.)

·         1/2 cup split mung dal (organic preferred, I get mine from Everybody's in Fairfield, Iowa in 25-lb bags for ca. $75 plus shipping. It lasts forever.) [Dal is a high-protein Legume like Peas or Lentils. It is very popular in India; there are many types of Dals available; I like Mung Dal.]

·         Put the barley and dal in the cooking pan. Add water and swirl around the water to wash the dry ingredients. Then pour the water out. Repeat 2-3 more times or until the water is clear, not cloudy. Pour off the clear water.)

·         Add 4 cups of pure good-tasting water to the rice cooker pan. (If you can plan ahead, set aside the water and grains to soak overnight; this step is not critical, but nice. It makes the cooking time shorter and is said to reduce the gas in the dal.)

·         Add 2 tbsp oil (prefer extra virgin olive oil, or grape seed oil, or sesame oil, or ghee (clarified butter). This oil is the secret ingredient that helps stop your rice cooker from making a mess on the counter and the floor when the dal/rice/barley boils and threatens to overflow.


Add the cooking spices/herbs:

·         ¼ tsp of Asafoetida (aka Hing), ground fine (I get mine from Everybody's in Fairfield, IA. This is a pungent ingredient made from a crystallized plant sap that adds a lot of flavor with just a little bit added.)

·         1-2 tsp ground Turmeric powder (a few liberal shakes)

·         1-2 tsp each of dried chopped Chives, dried Basil, and dried Cilantro (a few liberal shakes)

·         (optional) 1 tsp ajiwan seeds

·         3 bay leaves


3. Cooking

·         Plug in the Rice Cooker. Turn the switch from warm to cook on the rice cooker (with the Lotus, flip the switch down).

·         Add the steamer insert on top of the cooking pan. Wash and dice up your favorite vegetables.


Some of My Favorite Vegetables:

·         Add the steamer insert on top of the cooking pan. Wash and dice up your favorite vegetables.

·         A couple of carrots, diced small (always)

·         Some stalks of celery (very good, diced small) (often)

·         ½ a head of cauliflower, diced small (sometimes)

·         A stalk of broccoli or cauliflower, diced small (sometimes). Dice up the tender part of the stem (closer to the florets) into small pieces.

·         1/4-1/2 pound of asparagus diced small (delish) (sometimes)

·         A couple of small potatoes diced small (instead of the cauliflower/broccoli) (sometimes) (starchy, but tasty)

·         5-15 Brussels sprouts (diced smaller if large) (a nice variation instead of broccoli) (sometimes)

·         Greens like chard or bokchoi (excellent, finely chopped). (sometimes)

·         Green Beans diced small (sometimes)

·         Da Add the steamer insert on top of the cooking pan. Wash and dice up your favorite vegetables.

·         ikon Radish (sometimes, finely chopped)

·         Etc. etc. Pick your favorites, try them out.


Go and meditate (or whatever).

45 minutes to 1½ hr. later, it's almost ready. After it finishes the main cooking cycle, it automatically switches to warm. So, no burnt cooking pan, and no burnt food. You can leave it to cook further for up to an hour after the 45-minute cooking phase finishes with no bad results. Unplug the Rice Cooker. Stir the Barley Dal, stirring up all that’s sticking to the bottom of the pan.



Into a small frying pan (non-stick), put in 1-2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Put on low to medium heat.


Put in the whole spices you want to fry, including:

·         1 tsp whole Cumin seeds (a few shakes)

·         1 tsp whole Coriander seeds (a few shakes)

·         2 tsp whole Fennel seeds (a few shakes, then some more shakes)

·         (optional) 1 tsp ground ginger powder

·         (optional) 1 tsp ground fennel


Then add the ground spices:

·         1-2 TBSP Maharishi Ayurveda Vata, Pita or Kapha Churna (seasoning). This is a spice/herb mixture with calming (vata) cooling (pita) or stimulating (kapha) qualities. I mostly use Vata or Pitta Churna. (Available from the Health and Wholeness Store in Fairfield, Iowa, ca. $15 for the 8-oz. (large) size plus shipping. (You can also buy generic Pitah, Vatah, and Kaphah spice mixtures at Everybody's, Fairfield, IA.) (Note: Vata Churna Ingredients: Cumin, Ginger, Fenugreek, Turmeric, Turbinado Sugar, Salt, and Asafoetida (Hing) in a Rice-flower base; Pitta Churna Ingredients: Coriander, Fennel, Cumin, Turbinado Sugar, Cardamom, Ginger, Turmeric, Cinnamon, and Salt. Kapha Churna Ingredients: Ginger, Pepper, Coriander, Turbinado Sugar, Turmeric, Salt and Cinnamon.)

·         (optional) 1 tsp ground Amchur (Green Mango Powder)

·         (optional) 1/8-1/4 tsp of Rock Salt (i.e. Pink Himalayan Salt Crystals, fresh-ground).


Heat the spices until you smell their aroma (they will brown). Then pour the cooked spice mix into the Barley Dal. Stir. You can even spoon some Barley Dal into the fry pan to soak up the last of the spices and oil, then put it back into the whole.


Now, stir in the veggies. You're ready to eat, or to scoop it into a wide-mouth food Thermos (I own two 24-oz. Thermos-Brand Stainless steel wide-mouth food thermoses (I got the latest one from Amazon.com) and head to the office. The Barley Dal with Veggies recipe described above fills them both up neatly.


5. Notes


5.a. Notes on the Grains you Use

·         You can vary the grains. For instance, you can substitute Organic Brown Rice or Organic Brown Basmati Rice for the Barley. Since the dal takes 45 minutes to cook, I use a matched grain that also takes a similar time to cook. (This is why I don’t use Quinoa or White Basmati rice.) Wild rice is wonderful as well; it also takes about 45 minutes to cook. (I’ve tried 1/3 cup dal, 1/3 cup brown rice, and 1/3 cup wild rice—it came out great! I’ve also tried 1/3 cup dal, 1/3 cup brown rice, and 1/3 cup barley—again, delicious!). ¼ cup wild rice, ¼ cup dal, ¼ cup pearled barley, and ¼ cup brown rice was quite good, also.


5.b. Notes on the Legumes you Use

·         You can use Split Peas or Split Lentils or other types of Dal instead of Mung Dal. I just really like the taste of Mung Dal. The grain provides the texture; the legume provides the soup-like quality.


5.c. Note on Dal Boiling Over

·         Dal has a tendency to boil over and make a mess on your stove or countertop when cooked by itself in a rice cooker with lid on (or in a pan on the stove for that matter). Ways to prevent this: 1) Cock the lid of the rice cooker or pot so that the dal doesn’t boil over. 2) Put 1-3 TBSP of oil into the Dal at the start of cooking 3) Put vegetables (or whatever) in the steamer insert above the cooking pan. This will prevent the overflow altogether. 5) Put the Rice Cooker onto a plate or large deep-sided glass or ceramic deep-dish pie pan so that, if there is any overflow, it ends up on the pie pan and not on your counter 6) Don’t cook the Dal all by itself—the addition of Barley and/or Rice and/or Wild Rice seems to prevent or at least reduce boil-over.


c. 2013 by Duncan H. Brown (Article can be freely shared as long as you acknowledge me as the author and/or point back to www.duncanhbrown.com.)