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The Estonian’s eat this stuff by the gallon, it is highly popular, cheap to make and very traditional.  This is not something to prepare if you’re trying to wow dinner party guests, but if you’re looking for comfort food it’s a good call.

 Consider halving or quartering the recipe if you’re not serving an army. One of the few dishes we’ve tried for which Cosmin still remembers the native name, we were eating this for days afterwards.

Makes Cosmin's List


  • 200g pearl barley (7oz / 1 cup)
  • 1.2 kg potatoes (42oz / 5.3 cups)
  • 750ml water (1.3 pints / 3 cups)
  • 100ml milk (0.2 pints / 0.4 cups)
  • Salt
  • 250g gammon (8.8oz)
  • 2 large onions
  • 1.5 tbsp sunflower oil


  • Calories | 284
  • Fat | 4.5g

Serves | 10 portions

Prep Time | 2 hours 15 minutes (includes soaking time)

Cooking Time | 30 minutes


  1. Wash and soak the pearl barley for at least two hours.
  2. Peel, and chop the potatoes and place in a large pan together with the drained pearl barley and water. Simmer over a low heat until the barley is cooked (approximately 20-25 minutes.
  3. Add the milk and with a big wooden spoon beat the mixture until it has a smooth porridge-like consistency.
  4. Dice the gammon and onion and fry in the oil until golden brown.
  5. Some Estonians serve the porridge with the onion and meat on top, some serve it stirred in. You choose.

Based on a recipe found at

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