With the Indian festival of Holi and St. Patrick's Day falling on the same date this year, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take creative license, blur geography and develop a dish that speaks one language that we can all understand. Some of the best recipes in my mind are the basic ones, requiring no fancy treatment other than a deep respect for the ingredients themselves and the way they communicate with each other. The Irish Apple Barley Pudding is definitely one such. It is a clean canvas that is light, slightly sweet and tart and just splendid left alone. But, in keeping with the spirit behind this post and the festivities, I chose to add a couple of intensely fragrant Indian spices for just a touch of mystery and whimsy without complicating the simplicity of the traditional version.
The Apple Barley Pudding is one of just a handful of Irish desserts that are non-alcoholic. If you must however, I suggest spiking the cream with Whiskey and not the pudding else it will interfere with its ability to thicken adequately.
Ingredients (Serves 6)
5 small sweet apples, thinly sliced
4 Tbsp pearl barley
4 Tbsp raw sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 quart water
1 cup coconut cream or heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
Ground cardamom, 1 tsp
2 hefty pinches saffron, dissolved in 2 tsp warm soy or other milk
Rose extract, a few drops
Bring the water to a boil, throw in the barley and apples and cook until soft. Purée.
Return mixture to the pot. Stir in lemon juice, half the saffron, 1/2 tsp cardamom and sugar and boil for another 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, cool and chill to set.
Pour the cream, confectioner's sugar, remaining cardamom and rose extract into a chilled bowl. Whip until soft peaks form.
To serve, spoon alternating layers of the apple barley mixture and cream into a glass serving dish. Top with chopped pistachio and drizzle with the remaining saffron.