Make Oklava's sour cherry pearl barley

Pearl barley? As a simple side? You've been doing it all wrong – try this flavour- and texture-laden recipe instead

Oklava's sour cherry pearl parley

Serves 4

Preparation time 20 mins

Cooking time 60 mins

Whether it's flavour or texture you're after, this dish from modern Turkish-Cypriot restaurant Oklava has it all. We mean it. It's crispy, creamy and chewy all at once, with sweet, salty and sour notes. It's the king of side dishes. In fact, we wouldn't even serve it as a side at all – it's so good we'd make it the main event. 


  • 1 quantity chilli butter (see below)
  • 6 tablespoons Turkish or Greek yoghurt
  • Small bunch of mint, leaves only, shredded
  • Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves only, shredded
  • 1 quantity crispy kale
  • 60g hard sheep's cheese, such as pecorino

For the pearl barley

  • 150ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 banana shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 200g dried sour cherries
  • 250g pearl barley, rinsed with cold water
  • Fine salt

For the crispy kale

  • 250g kale, central stalks sliced out and the leaves torn into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the chilli butter (makes about 250g)

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Turkish chilli flakes
  • 50ml extra-virgin olive oil


  1. To make the chilli butter, melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat and keep it there until it turns nut brown.
  2. Strain it through a fine sieve into a large heatproof container and add the chilli flakes immediately (it will puff up, hence the need for a large container). Stir in the olive oil, then set aside to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.
  3. To make the crispy kale, coat the kale leaves in 1 tablespoon olive oil and a little salt. Spread them out flat on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes, or until crispy. Check the kale every 5 minutes and move it around on the tray so that it bakes evenly.
  4. To prepare the pearl barley, heat the olive oil in a pan over a very low heat, add the shallots and cook very gently for 20 minutes, until soft but with no colour.
  5. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the sour cherries and pearl barley and stir to coat in the oil and shallots. Pour enough cold water into the pan to cover the barley by about 2cm.
  6. Gently cook over a medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until just cooked through. Season with fine salt. Meanwhile, melt the chilli butter and keep warm.
  7. Transfer the pearl barley mixture to a serving platter or individual plates. Put the yogurt in a squeezy bottle (if you have one) and drizzle it over the top. Add the herbs and a trickle of warm chilli butter, top with the crispy kale and finely grate over the cheese.

Taken from Oklava: Recipes from a Turkish-Cypriot Kitchen by Selin Kiaziam, published by Mitchell Beazley