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The Forgotten Drink

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Come summer and we adopt various strategies to fight the sweltering heat. We go to the rescue of tender coconut water, lime and various other fruit juices, butter milk, cucumber and water melon to keep our body cool. But does “barley water” strike a familiar chord to you? I sincerely doubt if many of us remember this simple yet excellent thirst quencher. I call it simple because the preparation does not require any culinary expertise or many ingredients. Here is how you prepare it:


  1. Pearl Barley-2 to 3 tbsp
  2. Water             -3 cups
  3. Sugar              -3 tsp or as per taste
  4. Lemon juice -1 or 2 tsp according to your preference
  5. Lemon zest   – few strands

    Pearl Barley and Lemon Zest


  • Rinse pearl barley to remove any dirt or debris in it.
  • Boil barley in water and then simmer it for 10-15 min.
  • Strain clear barley water into cups containing sugar and lemon zest.
  • Allow it to cool down and add a few ice cubes to it.
  • Add lemon juice for flavor and stir it well. 

And yes your nutritious coolant is ready. 

Lemon Barley

No of Servings: 2


Orange juice or mint can be used to flavour it. Sometimes I also add a small quantity of milk to barley water. If you do not want it sweet, just spice it up with a pinch of cumin powder and salt… and when it comes to combinations sky is the limit.


Learning about some of the benefits of this drink may prod you to include it in your routine menu.

  • It rehydrates the body and is an excellent thirst quencher.
  • Pearl barley is loaded with copper, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. The presence of potassium and the fact that it leaches into water has been exploited in using barley water for restoring fluid and electrolyte balance of the body.
  • It acts as a diuretic and comes handy when you want to relieve yourself of oedema i.e., swelling caused due to retention of water in the body.
  • It helps in preventing urinary tract infections and soothes inflammations in the tract.
  • The soluble fiber in barley called beta-glucan softens stools by its capacity to absorb water and hence eases bowel movements.
  • Beta-glucan binds to bile acid and flushes it out along with the cholesterol contained in it, thereby reducing blood cholesterol level in the body.
  • Beta-glucan also delays absorption of carbohydrates thus reducing Diabetics’ need for insulin.
  • It can be given for convalescing patients and just plain barley water can also be used as weaning food.

Well, if  barley water’s long association with Wimbledon will help to elevate its image, then it is worth mentioning that it has been served to the players off and on the court since 1935!!! And for those who want to maintain the reputation of a teetotaler and still have a taste of barley, this drink might be an ideal option.


I usually reuse the same barley three or four times before discarding it.  

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