When I saw Quinoa in our local ‘Bulk Barn’ store I was fascinated by its grainy appearance. Later, I learned that it is actually a seed related to beets and spinach. It is one of nature’s super foods, rich in healthy doses of complete protein and fiber. Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, is from South America, originating with the Incas, in Peru and held sacred in ancient Inca and Aztec cultures. Oh my!…so this is a trendy seed that is fit for a gluten free diet and an additional protein source for vegetarians.
I like its nutty flavor and replacing one ingredient in an otherwise normal dish was not a big deal. I tried a simple vegetable pulav to introduce the talk of the town quinoa into our home by substituting it for rice. Toasting adds a deeper flavour and crunchier texture to quinoa. Before cooking rinse the seeds under running water while rubbing them together as the seeds are covered with a bitter resin called saponin.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 ½ tbsp. ghee
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 green cardamoms
- 4 cloves
- 2” cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 onion finely diced
- 2 green chillies
- 1 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste
- ½ tbsp. garam masala
- 1 tbsp. mint and coriander leaf paste
- 1 ½ cups chopped mixed vegetables (beans, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower)
- 1/2 cup thick coconut milk
- 1 ½ cups water
- salt to taste
- Mint leaves for garnishing
- Soak quinoa for 5 minutes, rinse twice, and leave it to drain
- Cut vegetables like carrots, beans, broccoli, and cauliflower.
- Heat vegetable oil in a pan and add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves.
- Sauté chopped onions and when it turns translucent add ginger-garlic paste.
- When the raw smell of the ginger-garlic paste disappears, add garam masala and stir.
- Add the cut vegetables and green chillies.
- Toast drained quinoa and add to the vegetable mix and cook with 1 ½ cups water and half a cup coconut milk.
- Stir in the mint-coriander paste.
- Cook on low flame till all the water evaporates or use a rice cooker.
- You will know that the quinoa is done when all the grains have cracked open, and the spiral-like germ has separated.
- Add 1 ½ tspn. ghee and serve it hot.
- Garnish with mint leaves.
The grainy texture of the seeds with the soft crunchy vegetables make this dish a delight. Stores also sell quinoa flour and the possibilities of cooking with Quinoa flour is endless.