Burbara is a soupy dessert that I grew up eating once a year on December 4th in celebration of Saint Barbara. The story of this day goes back to when Saint Barbara disguised herself in different characters in order to escape the Romans who were persecuting her. She used to hide in wheat fields and that is why we eat this wheat-based dessert on Saint Barbara’s Day. To learn more about the saint, you can click on the link below:
Christian families in Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan celebrate this holiday every year. The tradition in our neighborhood was that each family makes this recipe and each will share a plate with the other neighborhood families. The fun part was that we would compare whose burbara is the best of the year. At our household, of course, no one can make a better burbara than my mother. So, she always wins.
Barley is the main ingredients for this recipe. Some Christians believe that barley is considered a symbol for life. One seed of barley if planted can grew and produce more seeds.
The other ingredients are the licorice spices, anise, and fennel powder. Fennel and anise have a licorice sweet taste, therefore, the dish itself doesn’t require a lot of sugar, and for those who like it sweeter extra sugar can be added, spices also can be adjusted depends on your taste, you can start by less and add-on. Make sure that barley pearl is the kind of barley used for this dish, not the regular barley, as the regular one can take much more time to cook. Raisins are usually added with spices and cooked, however, they turn too soft once cooked. So raisins can be left as an option to be added later on top with nuts.
Barley can suck all the water pretty easy, so don’t be alarmed if you overcook it and water started drying out you can always add more water, recommended boiled water for this step. This step can also be done if dish is preheated.
- 1 cup uncooked barley pearl
- 4 cups of regular water
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons anise powder
- 1 teaspoon fennel powder
- 3-4 tablespoons sugar
- nuts for decorating (raw almonds, pine nuts, walnuts)
- pomegranate (optional)
- Soak barley overnight
- Rinse water and place barley in a pot and cover with water and let cook.
- Lower the heat to medium once it starts boiling.
- Let it simmer for about 20 minutes and until barley seeds have softened.
- Add spices and sugar, stir and let it simmer for 3-5 more minutes
- Serve hot or warm. Decorate with nuts
This recipe is about 3-4 servings