This sweet, fruity, nutty pudding (often referred to as 'sweet soup') is adored by Armenians, especially during the festive season. The barley does take some time to cook, and because of the sugar, you will need to stir and add more water regularly to prevent it from catching and burning.
200 g (1 cup) pearl barley (see Note)
220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
160 g (1 cup) sultanas
1 cinnamon quill
ground cinnamon, pistachios, walnuts and blanched almonds, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Rinse barley under cold running water, then place in a saucepan with sugar, sultanas, spices and enough water to just cover barley.
Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to low and cook for 2½ hours, adding ½ cup water every 30 minutes or until barley is soft. Discard cinnamon stick. Blend using a handheld blender until a porridge-like consistency; the high sugar content means it is likely to burn easily, so keep topping up with more water and stirring occasionally, if needed.
Remove from heat, then pour pudding into a shallow dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and decorate with pistachios, walnuts and almonds. Refrigerate until cold before serving.
You will need the heavily hulled pearl barley, available from Middle Eastern shops, which is a smaller, whiter grain.
As seen in Feast Magazine, Issue 15, pg50.
Photography by Sean Fennessy