Burbara: Middle Eastern Spiced Wheatberry Porridge

London's porridge sensation Alex Hely-Hutchinson, founder of 26 Grains, starts her cookbook by stating: 'Everybody has a story about porridge'. It's true. Porridge is eaten across so many different cultures and is made in many ways, based on different grains, methods, and flavours. Of course the Middle East has its answer, in fact, it has several porridge-like dishes, but I thought I'd try my hand at making the Levantine 'Burbara' with a bit of a 26 Grains twist.  

Burbara is traditionally eaten on St. Barbara's day by Christians in the Levant, and it's usually served as a dessert, be it hot or cold. Although it's loaded with loads of great stuff (nuts, spices, grains), it is normally very sweet, so I've toned it down to make it a bit more breakfasty. 

Recipe - Serves 2


100g wheatberries, whole wheat grain, or pearl barley (soaked in 250ml water overnight, or at least 30 minutes)
250ml almond milk (or milk of your choice)
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp aniseed
1/2 tsp nutmeg
maple syrup, to taste
a handful of pine nuts, toasted
a handful of pistachios
a handful of pomegranates
half an apple, grated or julienned
date syrup, to drizzle
a dollop of greek yoghurt


1. Place your soaked wheatberries and their water in a pan on the hob. Add the almond milk and spices, and boil for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down and simmer for a further 30 minutes or until the wheat grains have softened, stirring occasionally so they don't stick to the pan.
2. When you're ready to serve, add in however much maple syrup you'd like to sweeten your porridge. Pour into two serving bowls and top with the nuts, pomegranate, apple, a drizzle of date syrup, and a dollop of greek yoghurt.
3. Serve immediately. Without the toppings this will keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days.