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Hibiscus Barley Water

sorrel drink

It’s Wimbledon fortnight and here in SW9, I am feeling the excitement building in my nearby borough. I’ve been sneaking a peek when Andy Murray is playing because I’m not sure I can take more tears this year, but I know others are glued to the screen all day everyday. So it seemed appropriate to create a drink that would capture that British tradition of this time of year and accidentally make dinner at the same time…

Barley water is just that. It’s the water in which pearl barley has been cooked, strained off and flavoured with something sharp or citrussy to refresh on humid summer days. Reputed to be as excellent for one’s system as cranberry juice, it’s a healthy and cheap thing to make from scratch. I’ve flavoured mine with hibiscus or as it’s known in Jamaica, sorrel for a scarlet twist on the more classic lemon version.

It also means you have delicious nutty barley cooked and ready to eat. I’ve made a fresh salad, stuffed full of grilled courgette, scallion and fennel, studded with emerald green broad beans and salty capers before being dressed with mint and olive oil. Make a big batch and keep it in the fridge for a tasty lunch or dinner when you can’t leave Centre Court for long. It’s fabulous as it is or with cold chicken or grilled halloumi on the side.

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Sorrel Turkish Delight

Sorrel Turkish Delight for Christmas

I seem to have got stuck into the Christmas drinks already with absolutely no worries of what anyone might think. One those festive tipples is sorrel drink which is traditionally drunk for Christmas  all over the Caribbean, either as a non alcoholic drink for all the family or with added rum and wine to make a punch. I’ve been quaffing the virgin version since seeing a bottle of cordial in Esme’s in Market Row the other week. Since I won’t be in Brixton for Christmas I wanted to think of a way to incorporate the flavour without being hard to transport and my intention to make Turkish Delight became a reality.

This recipe isn’t difficult, but it is a little bit time consuming and potentially nerve wracking due to the molten sugar. Lay everything out in advance, use a sugar thermometer, take your time and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how straightfoward it is. Christmas music is optional…

Originally published in the Brixton Bugle….

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