Beet-Barley-Brown-Rice Pilaf with Ginger-Lime Dal

Given how much I love beets, I surprised myself the other day when I realized I’ve never posted a recipe with this wonderful, healthful veggie, unless you count this curry.

I am not sure what I love more about the beetroot: its gorgeous color, its earthy flavor, or its highly nutritious properties. Or, maybe, its long shelf life: it keeps forever in the refrigerator (okay, maybe not forever, but for a few weeks) which is important in my kitchen that’s far from organized

This week, I’ve been rather busy at work so I haven’t been able to go buy any veggies, and have been relying on the frozen ones I always keep on hand for exactly just such occasions. I also had, sitting there, three very lovely beets whose greens I had already used up.

Now I had been wanting to make something fun for this month’s Jihva for Ingredients which is being hosted by Suganya. The theme she chose is Whole Grains.

The beets gave me a great idea. In my pantry was some barley leftover from the last time I cooked a barley risotto. So out it came, along with some brown rice, and together with the beets, frozen spinach, and some sambar powder, it morphed into my Beet-Barley-Brown-Rice Pilaf.

The dish took minutes to make and was simply gorgeous to look at, with the jewel-like color that beets impart to anything they touch. It also tasted amazingly good, and was perhaps one of the healthiest dishes I’ve ever cooked. And I cook healthy most of the time.

To go with the pilaf, I made some very simple, very quick, very delicious Ginger-Lime Dal.

The whole meal was ready in less than 45 minutes, and made for a truly wholesome dinner with nothing more than some microwaved papad. I think I could eat this every day.

Beet-Barley-Brown-Rice Pilaf


1 cup brown rice + 1/4 cup barley, cooked(I put them together in the rice cooker and follow instructions for cooking 1 1/4 cups of brown rice)

2-3 medium-sized beets, skins scrubbed clean, then grated

1 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed (I just do this in a microwave which saves a LOT of time)

1 habanero pepper, finely chopped (replace with 2 or 3 of any other hot chili peppers if you don’t have habanero. You need a good amount of heat, though, because it has to stand up to the sweetness of the beets and the robust flavor of the brown rice and barley.)

2 heaping tbsp sambar powder

1 onion, sliced thinly

1 sprig curry leaves

1 tomato, chopped

2 tbsp canola oil

2 tbsp grated coconut, for garnish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, curry leaves and chili peppers and stir until the onions turn translucent but not brown.

Add the chopped tomato and sambar powder. Stir until the tomato turns mushy and expresses the oil.

Add the spinach, mix to coat with the spices, and then add the grated beets.

Add salt to taste.

Cover and cook for a few minutes until the beets are tender.

Now mix in the cooked rice and barley. Mix well.

Add the coconut and either mxi it into the rice or just leave on top as a garnish.

You can also add some coriander, if you like.

Serve hot with the Ginger-Lime Dal (recipe follows).

Ginger-Lime Dal


3/4 cup moong dal, cooked until soft

1 tbsp grated ginger

2 green chilies, slit

1/2 tsp turmeric

Juice of 1/2 lime (can substitute with lemon)

1 tsp mustard seeds

3/4 tbsp canola oil

Salt to taste

Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they sputter, add the green chilies.

Stir for a few seconds, then add the ginger and stir again for about a minute. Do so on medium heat so the ginger doesn’t burn.

Add the turmeric. Stir in.

Add the moong dal and salt to taste.

Let the dal cook for another 5 minutes on low heat. Turn off the heat and squeeze in the lime juice.

Serve hot with the beet-barley-brown-rice pilaf.


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  1. says

    Habenero peppers! Boy! Those little bombs, way too hot for me.
    Tried to spice up a couple of large pizzas with one pepper, and we were convinced that we aren’t as brave as we thought we were when it comes to hot peppers.
    All said, that beet rice is painting the town red.

  2. says

    BEAUTIFUL COLOURS. Love that rice.
    If you would serve me this i would be just sitting there and adliring the colour of the dish for a while before i started eating them.

  3. says

    Hi Vaishali, I love beetroot! And Ginger -Lime Dal is my fav too:-) Your picture makes me want to make it right now. I only make beetroot rasam, and beetroot rice, the colour is amazing. This combo of barley and brown rice is too tempting:-) I add beets to my soup too, just for that colour! Great entry..

  4. says

    very colourful and interesting. i am somehow not too keen on beets but my hubby is. but because i know it is a nutrient power house, i force myself to eat it :-)

    lovely dhal.

  5. says

    hi vaishali…this is my first visit to ur wondeful blog….n its also nice to see a another dog lover….i have a section for dog food and treats in my blog…do check it when u r free… :-)

  6. says

    I made this recipe today and it was my very first venture into bread-making. I’m not much of a baker in general. This recipe is wonderful! It was easy to follow and understand, the bread smelled amazing while baking and it tasted wonderful when done. I used all-purpose flour instead of bread flour, but it still came out perfect. It was spongy and moist with a harder crust on the outside. Delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe :)

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