Recipe 5 minPreparation Time 15 minCooking Time


5 minPreparation Time 15 min Cooking Time

About this Recipe

Talbinah, or variations of it, can be traced to pre-Islam Arabia, where a wholesome diet revolved around dates, dairy, and barley, which was added to breads and porridge. Now, Muslims around the world prepare talbinah, especially during Ramadan, in honor of prophetic traditions: the Prophet Muhammed often spoke of the nutritious and healing benefits of barley. Most families rely on packaged premixes to whip up a warm bowl, but it’s equally quick and easy (and far more satisfying) to make from scratch.

The Benefits

Food for the mind! Talbinah is a high carbohydrate food, rich in tryptophan and zinc, a combination that studies suggest may help to significantly ameliorate the symptoms of depression. The brain metabolizes tryptophan to serotonin, and quality carbohydrates enhance serotonin synthesis; meanwhile zinc is linked to anti-depression benefits. Barley is also a good source of fiber, vitamins (Bs and E), and sodium, selenium and magnesium, while milk adds calcium and honey bumps up the recipe’s probiotic potential.


Serves 2
  • 1/4 cup (28 g) whole grain, roasted barley flour
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water
  • 1½ cups (360ml) milk
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • Raw local honey to taste
  • 2 Tbsp (5 g) ground pistachio


  1. Step 1
    In a saucepan or small pot, combine the flour with water, then stir in the milk. Mix well for a smooth, lump-free slurry.
  2. Step 2
    Place the pot on the stove over low heat. Stir frequently to prevent sticking or lumps. Cook for 10 minutes, until you get a runny, porridge-like consistency. The talbinah will thicken slightly as it cools down. Add cardamom powder, mix well and remove from heat.
  3. Step 3
    Transfer to serving bowls, add honey to taste, garnish with ground pistachio, and enjoy warm. You can also dress the porridge with banana, berries, seasonal fruits, and nuts and seeds for a seasonal, eye-popping breakfast bowl.

Level Up: If whole grain roasted barley flour is hard to find, look for hulled or pot barley and make the flour at home. Here’s how: Wash and soak the grains in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain the water and spread the grains on a clean cloth to dry under a fan or in a sunny spot at home for an hour. Fill a wok with fine salt (about 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp per 1 cup of barley). Add the dried grains and roast on low to medium heat. Stir frequently to ensure even roasting and wait for the crackling sounds. When the popping peters out, turn off the heat. Once the grains cool down, use a strainer to sift out the salt. Grind the roasted grains in a heavy-duty food processor or a coffee grinder. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge and use in smoothies, bakes, and porridge.