South Indian Style Farro with Carrots and Peas

July 15, 2011

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I used to think of grains as a bit bland and boring. There. I said it. Sad but true. For years I avoided the bins of farro (barley), oats, wheat berries and quinoa assuming they were meant for vegetarians who didn’t like salt and spice in their food. Oops. There were years where I completely missed out on enjoying these tooth popping textures and vehicles for spice and salt, partners for veggies, cheese and sauce.  But then I started reading about grains on 101 Cookbooks. And Heidi’s recipes looked like things I would enjoy. So I made a mental note to pick up some farro.

First, I made her Baked Farro Risotto – I omitted the onions because we were out of them, added chopped broccoli and used a combination of parmesan cheese and gruyere cheese. I also spinkled a bit of bread crumbs on top and broiled the dish for a few minutes to get a nice parmesan-y bread crumb-y crust. It was an instant hit – even among certain diners in my house who also harbored preconceived notions about farro and “healthy grains”.

Then I decided to substitute some farro for semolina to make South Indian Upma. It’s easier than traditional upma, has a chewy, tooth-y texture and melds well with Indian spices. The farro was even just a little creamy without adding any cream.

South Indian Style Farro with Carrots and Peas

Prep Time: 15 minutes

I used farro (pearled barley) for this upma, but you can try it with any other grain. You may need to add extra water as the farro cooks. At the end of cooking the farro, I had extra water still left in the pan but let the farro sit for about 15-20 minutes and it just got absorbed resulting in a naturally creamy, loose dish.


  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon channa dal
  • 2-3 green chilies
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • ~2 cups farro
  • ~3 cups water
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wide, deep saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and toast for a minute or two until they pop.
  2. Add the urad dal, channa dal and green chilies and toast for another 5-8 minutes until the dal is golden.
  3. Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes until translucent.
  4. Add the peas and carrots and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the carrots are soft.
  5. Add the farro and mix with the vegetables. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil.
  6. Cook for about 20 minutes until more than half the farro has popped and is al dente. Add more water as needed and stir occasionally.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Nithya July 20, 2011 at 2:59 am

Wow!! this is delicious 🙂 Looks so yummy and love your clicks too 🙂


nithya August 2, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Thanks Nithya! It was really great…and healthy to boot which I love.


Mansi April 30, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Hey! Are farro and barley the same ?


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